Introduction to Blackout Poetry & Anthem Fishbowl Discussion



  • Students will read Blackout poems, learn the rules of Blackout Poetry, write their own Blackout poem, share them in small groups, curate them, and share the most interesting ones aloud to the class.

  • Students will continue their Fishbowl Discussions (student-centered formative assessment) for their unit novel, Anthem.


SOL 8.5     The student will read and analyze a variety of fictional texts, narrative

                       nonfiction, and poetry.

l) Use prior and background knowledge as a context for new learning.

SOL 8.7     The student will write in a variety of forms, including narration, exposition,

persuasion, and informational.

e) Select specific vocabulary and information for audience and purpose.

Materials for Learning Activities

Hard-copy Materials

Handout: Page of a novel to use for Blackout poem

Post-its (Students bring their own)

Anthem novels (students already have their own copies)

whiteboards (available in the classroom)

Procedures for Learning Activities (90 minutes)


Silent Reading (15 min) -- Before silent reading begins, I greet students and make sure they read my direction on the whiteboard about finding out which lit circle book they have been assigned and to collect them. I will pass around a chart where they can fill out the code that goes with their assigned novel. This is a system so we can keep track of which book students are responsible for returning at the end of the lit circle unit. I will also ask students to grab a whiteboard before returning to their seats with their books.

Blackout Poetry (Analysis)

  1. I ask students to pull out their whiteboards.

  2. I read the two questions I want the students to keep in mind as we look at 3 new poems. I read 3 blackout poems aloud twice.

  3. I ask students to answer the two questions by themselves on the whiteboard.

  4. I will ask them to share their answers with a shoulder partner.

  5. I ask volunteers from the class to contribute their answers.

Blackout Poetry (Background/History Lecture)

  1. I offer a mini-lesson on the origin of blackout poetry and the rules.

  2. I offer tips on how to write a good one.

Blackout Poetry (Students make one)

  1. I make students count off by 4 and have them sit with their numbers.

  2. I pass out 4 different text excerpts and have each group create their individual blackout poems.

    1. I will ask them to use 20 or fewer words.

Blackout Poetry (Students share their poem)

  1. When ready, students will share with their small group their poem.

  2. Each group must choose two poems to share.

  3. Students share poems with the entire class.

  4. Students gives feedback.

I will assign the homework, which requires students to find text on their own and create a blackout poem.


We will continue our Fishbowl Discussion.

  1. I will read out the names in the remaining two groups who have yet to be in the center for the Fishbowl Discussion. Students will gather in the center circle.

  2. I will review the directions and rules.

  3. We will begin the discussion. I will facilitate with the questions.


I will ask them to submit words on the topic of the novel title, Anthem, so I can create a Wordle for them.

Instructional Strategy

Students will work with a new set of students in groups because I am having them count off 1-4.


If we get to do the word collection for Anthem, I will read aloud their word collection before they started reading it and after.

Estimated Time

(Intro, Instruction, Summary)

1:15pm-1:30pm    Silent Reading

1:30pm-2:00pm    Blackout Poetry

2:00pm-2:30pm    Fishbowl Discussion

2:30pm-2:40pm    Wordle Word Collection and Comparison of Words

Before and After Novel Reading

Extensions or Connections to Other Lessons

Students have been writing original poetry for two class periods. They are now borrowing other people’s words to create meaning. It is a constraint and hopefully also a liberating experience because they don’t have to come up with their own words. Less pressure in one way.


I will be grading students on their verbal contributions for the Fishbowl Discussion using a rubric.


I am curious which students’ poems will be selected to be read aloud. Because I am letting them work on one blackout poem in class, I am scaffolding the experience for them. Having worked on one in class, I hope they realize what it is like and eager to make another one. They can also gauge how much time they will be spending on creating one.


If I have more time in the future, I will allow students to all share their poems. I would like the class to give all the readers/sharers applause at the end.

Next time I will share stronger blackout poems and from varied sources. I might even share student-written ones.