Site icon Laura Randazzo – Solutions for the Secondary Classroom

Instant Lesson Plan: NYT Found Poetry Contest

Last week, I shared five easy ways to help you celebrate National Poetry Month in your classroom. Today, I’m adding a sixth solid (and free!) resource. The New York Times just launched its 8th annual Found Poetry Contest, a perfect way for us to blend high-quality informational text and creative writing.

Basically, students pick and choose wording from one article or blend words/phrases from two articles to create a Found Poem of no more than 14 lines. Curious what this looks like? Last year’s winning entries can be viewed by clicking here.

To make this work in my classroom, I’ll begin by telling my students that they have an opportunity to become internationally recognized poets by using someone else’s words. Then, I’ll follow this procedure:

1. Have students group themselves in teams of two.

2. Give them the “Amy” poem by Epiphany Jones, one of last year’s contest winners, and a copy of the articles about singer Amy Winehouse that Jones used as source material. (The New York Times holds all rights to this work which is located here. I just re-formatted everything to save paper and make the work more usable in my classroom.)

Click here for my print-and-go version of the “Amy” poem assignment and articles.

3. Give students two different colored highlighters or two different colored pencils and have them mark both the poem and the articles, as directed on the assignment.

4. Review the answers by projecting the first page of the key to allow students to self-check once the work time is finished.

Click here for the answer key.

5. After discussion of the “Amy” poem, project “The Sickness Man Has Spread,” another winner from last year by Luisa Rincon, and have a student volunteer read it aloud to the class:

You could share the two source articles (here and here), but to save time I won’t repeat the word scavenger hunt. The kids should have the idea by now.

6. Explain the contest rules, listed within the NYTimes’ Learning Network Found Poetry blog post.

Click here for a printer-friendly version of the contest rules to give to your students.

7. Finally, set students loose in the computer lab to read articles and build their Found Poem. They’ll actually “turn in” their poems by submitting them to The Learning Network blog by the May 3 deadline and then either sending me a screenshot of their entry once its posted (for security, I’ll have them submit using only their initials and the name of our town) or showing me their submission on my classroom computer during our SSR reading time on Friday.

Not only is this an easy path to get students writing for a larger audience, but it’s also a sneaky way to get them to dig into some non-fiction/informational text while sharpening those creative minds. BIG thanks to The New York Times for helping us inspire our kids!

Teach on, everyone.

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