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Poetry ... In Reverse

A few years ago I stumbled across the reverse poem, A Lost Generation, by Jonathan Reed.  I was blown away by it.  Immediately, I knew I wanted to share it with my class, and they were just as blown away as I was.  Over the years, I have continued to use it in my classroom, and every year, the reaction by the students is the same.  Many of them even ask to bring a copy home so they can share it with their parents.  (If you can't see the video below, here is the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42E2fAWM6rA)



This year, I was finally brave enough to let my students have a go at writing their own reverse poetry.  After we watched and read the poem numerous times, I gave each student their own copy, and they went to work with a highlighter, highlighting the phrases that made the poem "work" (I had them work in groups of 2 or 3 for this).  They quickly noticed that every second phrase was generic - the fact that it contained no specific references was what made the poem reversible.

Then, we visited the site Budding Poets:  Reverse Poetry and read through some more examples of Reverse Poetry before I let the students loose to begin writing their own.  I did tell them they were allowed to "borrow" some of the general phrases from the poem if they were stuck.  This really helped the students get their poems started.  I asked them to try to write at least 14 lines, but many wrote more.

We have been piloting the use of 10 tablets in our classroom - Surface 2 tablets, so we wanted to be able to incorporate this technology into our poetry, as well.  We decided that when the groups were finished writing their poems (and after teacher approval) they would use the whiteboards and the video camera on the tablets to make a whiteboard movie or slideshow of their poems.  They used one whiteboard per line, stacked them all up, and then got ready to shoot their movies.  Most groups chose to make a video of their poems, but a few groups took individual pictures of each whiteboard (slide) and then put them together into a slideshow.  Both worked equally well.  We didn't read the poems out loud on the videos - the students thought it would be more powerful if the video was silent.

Here is a completed example of one of the poems my students wrote.  This group was made up of two 6th grade students.  The video you see is one I took on my iPad, standing behind them while they made a video on their tablet.  One student took the video, and one student was reponsible for changing the whiteboards.  On the video they took, you can only see the one stack of whiteboards (not the stack of removed whiteboards) - mine shows the whole process so you can have a better idea of what we did.  When all the groups were finished, we shared the poems with the whole class by projecting them onto the board.  What a great project!!  (Here is the link if you can't view the movie below:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IO_B9gS58wg)










15 comments:

  1. This sounds like a great end of year project. Thanks! Now I know how to end my year.

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    1. Thanks, Justin! My students really enjoyed this activity - I hope yours do, too. :)

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  2. OMG this is beautiful! I am going to study this and see if I can make it happen during the last 2 weeks of school...THANK YOU for sharing this!

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  3. I saw the original poem about a month ago on Facebook and I thought it was just amazing. I'm equally amazed that you and your kiddos did this. I got chills watching it "in reverse". Truly astounding. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. I love this idea as well, very challenging. I have never heard of reverse poetry but I bet if I show my students there will some willing to try it!

    Not Just Child's Play

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  5. Wow, that was amazing!! What a challenging and memorable project!

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  6. Wonderful work - super ideas, what a powerful and rewarding experience for the pupils.

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  7. Simply put...Wow. So simple yet so moving. I am always inspired by you. ALWAYS. I will be sharing this with my students...I would love to incorporate it into an art project with their portraits. Thank you for your inspiration.

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  8. A.Ma.Zing. As usual, Runde's Room gives me a mind blowing lesson that I cannot wait to share with my class!!

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  9. WOW! I am so amazed. Way to go!

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  10. What a powerful idea. I can see students, especially middle school and secondary students connecting with this. Great idea!

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  11. A really thought provoking lesson for the students! Just Fabulous!

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  12. What a great idea!! I love how you got your kids to write reverse poems. Thanks for sharing

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  13. WOW! Have never seen or heard of reverse poetry. I have only 5 1/2 days left! Not sure I can squeeze it in effectively but WOW it is on my radar for next year!

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  14. If you are looking for more examples of reverse poetry, Marilyn Singer has two books: Mirror Mirror and Follow Follow. They are based on fairy tales and the kids love them

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