Blackout Poems to Engage Young Readers

I wanted to honor these times by including the lesson plan format and idea I used when working with incarcerated youth. Specifically, students that have limited to no computer access, make-up work for students unable to attend school for extended periods, and more.  

When students are reading novels, I enjoy using blackout poems to engage students in the reading. I like to use these after introducing a writer, to allow students to pick out words and connect their own lives to the writer. Instead of choosing an excerpt, try to locate an interview or article about the writer!

Example of an article: “How a Kid Who Didn’t Read a Book Until He Was 17 Grew Up to Become a Literary Star” by Nora Krug | Washington Post)

Hey there!

I get your first sets of poems on Monday! I can’t wait, and it feels like it’s taking forever. How are you holding up?

Next week you can expect this letter to include group feedback, a couple of lines from classmates that stuck out to me, and the rest will be a personal response to letters I’ve received.

A quick update: I’ve been finding poems everywhere and in everything. In the time of waiting for your words, a poem on silence. In collaborations with visual artists, poetry in their images. There are the stories in books, and then there are the words that jump out of them! Poems!

I’m wondering are you finding poems too? Am I confusing you? Let me explain this week’s poem.

This rest of this lesson plan is best viewed through the attached .pdf. Please download that to read through and teach "Blackout Poems to Engage Young Readers."


Education Level: 

High School




Lesson Plan

Time Frame: 


Required Materials: 

A writer-related news article, the attached worksheet, pencil, black marker or pen

Lesson Plan: