Blackout Poets Society.

I woke up one morning and hadn’t put my glasses on yet. I  picked up my iPad and looked at the newspaper. The text was all blurry and I could only see keywords dancing together and forming a new story. That’s when it hit me that this could become an activity to do with the kids using Pages and Apple Pencil.

I have been a fan of Austin Kleon’s blackout poetry work and always thought that this would be a great way to let learners summarize a text to it’s core. Combine this with recently watching “Dead Poets Society” on a flight and you are about to read “Blackout Poets Society”: an interactive poetry bundle.

Apple Pencil guided me over these masterworks to reveal the words that connected the most. Creating a whole new interactive learning experience.

Kurt Klynen

The Steps.

Here is my story:

First you need to capture an image of a piece of text. This can come from anywhere: newspapers, magazines, textbooks. For my example I took some screenshots from public domain books. The theme is rebel girls through history. Meet Dorothy (Wizard of Oz), Alice (Alice in Wonderland), Pearl (Scarlet Letter), Juliet (Romeo & Juliet) and Emma (Emma).

Next you open a blank book template in Pages and add a structure ( cover, table of content, pages for the poems and credits) to your book.

TIP: Leave some room for inspiration and artwork.

Now unleash your creativity on the cover and the table of content.

The next step is to import the images page by page. Tap on the plus sign for this and select Photo or Video.

Select the image from you Photo Library. Adjust the size to make it fit nicely on your page. Double tap your image to add a mask to it.

TIP: Before continuing to the last step of drawing, you might want to make it easy for yourself and lock the image. Select the image and then tap on the paintbrush. Next go to Arrange and tap on the Lock button.

For the final step you need to use the magic of your Apple Pencil. Tap the pencil on the screen of your iPad and start drawing.

Now all that is left to do is tap the three dots and select export. Make sure to select the ePub format and send it to your iBooks app.

Going Further.

Take your blackout poetry even further by adding some shapes and interactivity to it.

Sometimes you want to visualize the feeling of a poem. This is where the shapes section comes in very handy. For the Juliet example I added the heart shape with a border and no filling. After positioning it on the poem I started the blackout.

Once you are finished with the blackout process, you can select it and tap on the paintbrush to pull up the Drawing option. Turn the switch on for Animate Drawing, adjust the time and watch your artwork come to life.

Finally you can go to the next level and record these poems in GarageBand with the right music in the background. Import your recordings in your book and let your readers decide how they want to experience The Blackout Poets Society.


More info:

Everyone Can Create: Music 

Everyone Can Create: Teacher Guide

Apple Teacher: GarageBand for iPad Starter Guide


Have fun!