At the beginning of the WITS teaching year, I ask my students what they collect. They list items such as teddy bears, stamps, rocks, and snow globes. Next I ask them what they think I collect. They know I’m a writer so they often guess things such as pencils, erasers, or journals. Then, I pull out a box and open the lid. Inside are hundreds and hundreds of words and phrases that I’ve cut out of magazines, newspapers, advertisements, and old books. I tell them that I collect words and that I keep them in boxes and baskets around my house. When I feel stuck or bored with my writing, I often turn to my collection of “found” words for inspiration.

Students respond enthusiastically to the concept of “Found Poetry.” If you’d like to try out a fun newspaper-based lesson with your students, read The Learning Network: Student Challenge | Create a New York Times ‘Found Poem’. Students are asked to choose words and phrases from one Times article and re-combine them into a poem. If the results are fantastic, there is a contest for students ages 13 and up that is sponsored by The New York Times (see above article for rules and submission guidelines). The deadline is Monday, April 19 at 5 p.m. E.S.T.

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