Creating Poetry Videos

by Melinda Storey

Poetry may be the least understood of any creative writing classes. Most students do not like poetry. In fact, some of my students turned their noses up at the mere mention of poetry. But this unit uses technology to really hook students!

Creating video poetry motivates students to read poetry so they can "find the perfect one" to use for their video. Mixing poetic lyrics with visual interpretations and background music addresses visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles. Another pleasant outcome is that video poetry actively engages the students in decision-making, planning, problem solving, and critical thinking. This dynamic way of teaching poetry seduces reluctant learners into actually liking poetry. Imagine that!

In this project, students make poetry come alive by creating a poetry video that is sure to create immediate enjoyment and an interest in poetry. Teachers can use either a digital camcorder or the older analog variety. If you prefer the regular VHS camcorder, find one that has a fade in and fade out option. If using digital, the editing software will make this process even better.

I use the Apple product, iMovie, on my iMac machine and I highly recommend it! iMovie allows students to learn how professionals plan and edit movies and how to create a poetry video presentation using a variety of technical editing techniques such as camera shots (panning, zooming), segues (transitions), timing shots with narrative, credits, and background music.

I begin the poetry unit by reading some musical lyrics. I usually use lyrics from old Beatles songs but most any of today's music will work. Tell students that you are going to read some of your favorite poems, but read the lyrics. Soon the students will realize the words are songs. Discussions can follow about the use of literary devices and analysis of the poems. Emphasize that songs are just poems put to music. Also emphasize that not all poems rhyme. Then read some poems aloud for the class, choosing modern poets, classical poets, and tongue twisters (see Teacher Resources) Stress to your students how oral presentation adds meaning and enjoyment to poems. Next, allow students to work individually or in small groups to read from a variety of books (see Teacher Resources) and prepare 2-3 poems to share orally with the class. The assignment for the poetry video is to choose a poem to use for a visual interpretation and use the editing program iMovie.

Project Steps
  1. Teacher and students read poetry aloud
  2. Assign students to groups and give assignment to create a poetry video
  3. Students should analyze their poem line by line and plan to shoot video images that will interpret each line. Have students draw a series of images that they want to represent each line on a storyboard.
  4. Teacher checks the storyboards.
  5. Students shoot video with a digital camcorder. Students can video other students or they can have someone video them if they want to be the star!
  6. After shooting the video, students should record themselves orally reading the poem using dramatic pauses.
  7. Choose instrumental background music.
  8. Import video and background music.
  9. Using the iMovie software, record voice, edit video clips, create title page, transitions, and credits.
  10. Top this unit off with an Academy Awards of Poetry. Kids love it!

Students can assess themselves and teachers can also assess using a poetry video rubric (40k, PDF). Give this rubric to students before you begin so they will know exactly what is expected of them. This video can be added to students' portfolios and also used for documentation of exceptional students. Check to see if your state participates in the local International Educational Film Festival Awards.

Tools and Resources

  • Batty" by Shel Silverstein (A Light in the Attic, p139)
  • "You've no need to light a nightlight," (Tongue Tanglers, p 14)
  • "Bubble Gum" by Nina Payne (The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, p 106)
  • "I Love You," (The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, p102)
  • "Song of the Pop-Bottlers" by Morris Bishop (More Tongue Tanglers, p 35)
  • "By Myself" by Eloise Greenfield (Honey I Love, p 24)
  • "Betty Botter bought some butter," (Tongue Tanglers, p 27)
  • "Listen to the Mustn'ts" By Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends, p 27)
  • "The Worm" by Ralph Bergengren (The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, p 127)
  • "Anteater" by Shel Silverstein (A Light in the Attic, p 115)
  • "The Creature in the Classroom" by Jack Prelutsky (The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, p212)

  • Bennett, Jill, ed. Noisy Poems. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987
  • Cole, Joanna, Anna Banana. 101 Jump Rope Rhymes. New York: Marrow Junior Books, 1989
  • deRegniers, Beatrice Schenk, et al. Sing a Song of Popcorn. New York: Scholastic Inc. 1988.
  • Greenfield, Eloise. Honey, I Love. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1972.
  • Jacobs, Leland B. Poetry for Space Enthusiasts. Champaign, Illinois: Garraed Publishing Co. 1971
  • Potter, Charles Francis. Tongue Tanglers. New York: The World Publishing Company, 1962.
  • Prelutsky, Jack. Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1976
  • Silverstein, Shel. Where The Sidewalk Ends. New York: Harper and Row, 1974.

Internet Sites:

Facilitation Tips:
  • Group students in twos or threes
  • Use a tripod to videotape performance
  • Provide storyboard template so students can organize their shots
  • Use instrumental music CDs
  • Use a quality microphone (boom microphones) to ensure quality audio if you are recording voice with a VHS camcorder and not using the microphone on the iMac

©2004 Melinda Storey