Concrete Found Poems

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1; R.2; R.3

What You Need: Fiction, dramatic, or nonfiction texts; Concrete Found Poem reproducible; drawing or construction paper; pens, markers, and crayons

What to Do: One novel way to go deeper into a prose text is through poetry. By combining two poetic forms—the concrete, or shaped, poem and the “found” poem, which is composed solely of words from another text—you can push students’ thinking
                                                                                             and analysis to a higher level.

Students will first decide what type of concrete found poem they’d like to create: character, setting, conflict, or theme. Then, using words, phrases, or sentences from their chosen text, they will shape these words into a visual representation on paper. For example, if they’ve chosen to do character, they can use the narrator’s or character’s own words to create a poem, but the exact words must appear in the text. (Students should keep track of the page numbers where they’ve found their phrases.) The image they create might be in the shape of the character’s face or a symbol related to the character. Your grading rubric might include the following criteria: aptness of quotations from text, inclusion of citations for quotes, suitability of image for topic, creativity, and accuracy with quotes/effort.

Chain of Events

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1; R.3

What You Need:
Fiction or nonfiction texts; Chain of Events reproducible; precut strips of different--colored construction paper; stapler; markers

What to Do: Middle schoolers will create an actual chain of events to come to a deeper understanding of a story by working in pairs or groups to summarize key points or events.

Give each pair or group 10 strips of paper. Ask them to identify the 10 most important events in the story, summarizing each on a strip of paper and citing page numbers. Then, have them staple the strips together to form a colorful chain, putting events in the right order; the strips should be curved so that the words are visible on the outside. Display the chains. If several groups are working on one story with multiple plotlines, you can splay the chains out like tentacles, ensuring that the interconnections are visible. You could also color-code different parts of the story (e.g., blue for introduction, orange for rising action, etc.).

Take it a step further by trying this activity with nonfiction forms, such as persuasive arguments or descriptive texts. Each idea can go on a link, and links can be color-coded to represent theses, examples, reasons, steps, conclusions, and so on.

Create a Mockumentary

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1; R.2; R.6

What You Need: Fiction, autobiography, or dramatic text; Mockumentary reproducible; videotaping equipment

What to Do: Form groups of five or six and explain the concept of the mockumentary: Students will act out the plot of a story but interrupt it with interviews from individual characters who reveal their true feelings about the other characters or an incident that has occurred. Students must remain in character and use direct information or inferences from the text. Each character must give at least one on-camera interview.

After going over the assignment sheet, assign or let students choose a section of the text to reenact; give them ample time to rehearse and then have them make their videos.

Once students have finished their mockumentaries, set aside time to screen all of them. After the viewing, focus discussion on point of view. Ask, “Would this story have been different with a different narrator? How?”

Genre Recipes

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.5; R.6

What You Need:
Texts from any genre; Genre Recipe reproducibles

What to Do: Assign a genre (science fiction, limericks, etc.)—preferably one you’ve just read or are reading—to pairs or small groups. Ensure that students understand the nuances of the genre, such as its structure, characteristics, and purpose. Then, review the Genre Recipe assignment sheet, which asks students to come up with “ingredients,” or characteristics, to include when they write in that genre as well as cooking verbs and amounts to use in their recipe (whisk, drizzle, serve; pint, dash, scoop).

Finally, students should use the Genre Recipe sheet to write down their ingredient list and directions for how to “make” that genre. For the satire genre, for example: In a large bowl, mix 1 pound of politics and 2 cups of current events.… Your students will be master chefs in no time! 

Adapted from 50 Common Core Reading Response Activities, by Marilyn Pryle.


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