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Title: Cut and Paste Poetry

This activity provides a way to help all students become more actively involved in reading poetry.
Although I have only used this activity in a high school, it could be adapted to work for students in earlier grades.
Choose a poem that is several stanzas long and is appropriate for the level of the students.
Some suggestions for high school include:
“Out, Out-“ Robert Frost
“The Lady of Shallot” Alfred Tennyson
“Ballad of Birmingham” Dudley Randall

Rearrange the stanzas or lines of the poem and distribute them to the students. In groups, have the students cut out the stanzas or lines and paste them on a page in the order they think is best. Have each group perform their version aloud (taking turns to read verses, reading in unison, etc.). After each group has read, as a class, discuss why the orders varied (if they did) and try to create a “class version” of the poem.

This activity is works well with new language learners because in small groups students must discuss the logical sequence of the stanzas in order to complete the task. Therefore, through this activity, new language learners have “opportunity for extensive oral interaction with English speaking peers” (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 to 12: English as a Second Language and English Literacy Development, page 8), and they are able to take part in the authoring of the new version of the poem. Also, all groups are encouraged to read their version aloud. Students who are struggling with speaking English will have an opportunity to participate orally through a relatively low-risk group reading.


Submitted by: Colleen Grandy

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