Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How to Create a Digital Blackout Poem in PowerPoint or OneNote


(Scroll Down for OneNote Directions!)

My tutorial on how to create a digital blackout poem using Google Slides has been a hit, so I wanted to give Microsoft users some love as well. :) When I design my digital lessons, I always make them Google Classroom, Microsoft OneDrive, and LMS compatible so no matter which platform your school is using, you can enjoy these paper free options!

For example, I love assigning blackout poems when we read challenging texts. I feel that it gives students a fun and effective way of finding main points, revealing author's craft, and highlighting deeper meanings of passages. However, I have found that students don't know where to start when I assign this type of thinking-ahead activity because they are afraid of messing up and having to start all over. 
Paper blackout assignments leave no room for mistakes. 


Here is a complex passage from "To Build a Fire" by Jack London:
After giving an assignment to find the overall theme of this text, here are a couple of results:


Since I want my students to be able to revise their work and close read without fear of messing up their final product, I have found that digital blackout poems are where it's at! Blackout poems without the Sharpie high, ink-stained fingers, and unintentional mistakes, whoop! 

How to Create a Blackout Poem Using PowerPoint 
(scroll down for the OneNote instructions)
Step 1: 
Open up a new PowerPint presentation and go to Design>Side Size>Custom Slide Size 

Step 2: 
Change the slide size to paper size (8.5x11) if you want to be able to print these off and to fit more text inside. 

Step 3:
Select maximize

Step 4: 

Step 5: 
Step 6:
 You will need to play around with the text box, font, and font size to get it to where it fills up the entire page (***Note, make sure your font is single spaced before you get too precise with your text. See next picture for how to do this). If you find that you are in between font sizes on the scale, simply type in a number to make it the exact size you need. Notice that I needed size 19 font even though that wasn't an option in the drop down menu.  
Make sure that your font is single spaced 

Step 7: 
Go to Design>Format Background>Choose Black (or really any dark color) 

Step 8:
Highlight your text and change the color to white 

Step 9:
Work through your text to create the words that you want to keep. The rest of the words will be changed to black. 

Step 10 (optional): 
To add a little more artistic quality to it, you might choose to add in an image. 
If you do want to add art, be sure to add the letters PNG after the term! This will give you a transparent background so that it doesn't mess up the look of your poem.

Finished product: 

I have included this activity in my Digital Unit Plan for "To Build  Fire" if you want to check it out! I'm in the process of digitalizing my entire catalog of lessons, so be sure to follow me while you are there for future Google and Microsoft lesson plans! :) 

How to create blackout poems in OneNote: 

If you are an avid OneNote user like I am, then you can have your students do these digital blackout poems directly in OneNote as well!


Step 1: 

Open a new page in your notebook and go to Insert>Online Picture 

Step 2:
Search for a "black square" 

Step 3: 
Drag the corners until you get it to the size that you want then right click and "set as background" 

Step 4: 
Paste in your text, right click, and bring to the front 

Step 5: 

Change your font color to white then follow the steps above in the PowerPoint tutorial 

You may also like my other OneNote Posts here:



Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter (top bar) and follow me on Pinterest for more ideas like these! 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

How to Create a Blackout Poem Using Google Slides



There's a certain zen quality to creating traditional blackout poems...that is until in your Sharpie induced brain fog, you accidently mark over a word you needed then have to start all over. ;)

The zen before the breakdown, ha 

I love assigning blackout poems when we read challenging texts. I feel that it gives students a fun and effective way of finding main points, revealing author's craft, and highlighting deeper meanings of passages. For example, here is a passage from "To Build a Fire" by Jack London :
 The assignment that you see one of my students doing above was to find the central theme of the story by creating a blackout poem. Here are some digital examples of the outcome of this assignment:

(A student example printed out) 


Since I use blackout poetry in a less free-style and non-fluff way, I want my students to be able to revise their work and close read without fear of messing up their final product. Digital blackout poems to the rescue!!! Blackout poems without the Sharpie high, ink-stained fingers, and unintentional mistakes, whoop! 

How to Create a Blackout Poem Using Google Slides: 

Step one: Open a new Google Slide 

Step 2: Right click and cut out all of the text boxes 

Step 3: Go to File>Page Setup 

Step 4: Click the drop down menu then select "custom." You will want your slide to be 8.5x11 if you wish for it to be printer paper size (***Note: when printing be sure to click "scale to fit" so that the edges aren't cut off) 

Step 5: Go get the text you want to use for your blackout poem. You will be copying and pasting this into your slide. 

Step 6: Paste it into your slide. You will need to play around with the text box, font, and font size to get it to where it fills up the entire page (***Note, make sure your font is single spaced before you get too precise with your text. See next picture for how to do this). If you find that you are in between font sizes on the scale, simply type in a number to make it the exact size you need. Notice that I needed size 20 font even though that wasn't an option in the drop down menu.  

Step 7: Duplicate your slide so that you have creative choices (background colors, font colors, etc) 

Step 8: To make the background black (or a different color). Go to Background >Color>Select Color. Be sure to change your font color to where it's readable! For example, the black background will need white font.  


Step 9: Now to the fun part!! Depending on which slide you are working on, change either the text color or the highlighting color to black out the words. For example, if you are using the white background, you will select the words you want to disappear and go to highlight then click black. 


Step 10: To add a little more artistic quality to it, you might choose to add in an image. 
 If you do want to add art, be sure to add the letters PNG after the term! This will give you a transparent background so that it doesn't mess up the look of your poem 

White background example:

I have included this activity in my Digital Unit Plan for "To Build  Fire" if you want to check it out! I'm in the process of digitalizing my entire catalog of lessons, so be sure to follow me while you are there for future Google and Microsoft lesson plans! :) 

Sign up for my newsletter (see top bar) and follow my Pinterest for more English teacher ideas! 

Are you in a Microsoft classroom? You can also create these digital poems in PowerPoint and OneNote! I have a separate post with these directions!