Headline Poetry Reimagined and Redefined

My high school students take headline poems to the next level

Again this year, I chose to start the school year with headline poetry. Both my in-school students and those learning at home created headline poems with words and phrases found and clipped from with a variety of printed materials, magazines, newspapers, and even junk mail.


If you’re unfamiliar with headline poetry, consult my headline poetry page, where you’ll find instructions, lesson plans, mentor texts, poem display ideas, even labels for a gallery walk. Over the past few years, I’ve found headline poetry to be an excellent way to start the school year. Students get to socialize and talk while they work. They cut out words and phrases, then choose and arrange words into interesting combinations to create thoughtful, spontaneous poetry.


August 2020 marked the second year my high school students and I have explored headline poetry. One year ago, our goals were to explore the form for the first time. One month ago, that was the goal again for my juniors, as it was their first time to dabble in headline poems.

For my seniors, since it was their second attempt, I invited them to take it up a notch and try some new ideas with their headline poems, such as:

Adding a drawing on which to arrange the poem

This poem by junior Adalee H. is a good example of how students can combine drawing with headline poems. It’s also a good example of how some of my juniors accepted the challenge to try a more non-traditional design.

Using a photo as a background

Destiny H. used photos from magazines to complement words and phrases.

Manipulating or tearing the background paper

Headline poem
Ella D. tore the paper around the word “breakthrough” to show interaction between the words and their background.

Incorporating lift-up tabs

Slide the arrow back and forth to see how Bayleigh H. incorporated a lift-up tab.

I hope this small gallery of headline poems comes in handy the next time you need a fun writing project that challenges students to think critically. A good deal of creative discernment happens as students choose and prioritize words, arrange and rearrange them, discarding and grouping as they begin to see a theme or central message emerge from the array of clippings before them.

Try headline poetry soon, and let me know how it goes!


Thanks for reading! For more ELA resources, lesson plans, and student writing contests, enter your email below. In return, you’ll receive a free PDF file of this sheet that will teach your students how to write Treasured Object Poems. It’s another favorite my students explore each year!

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Published by marilynyung

Writes | Teaches | Not sure where one ends and the other begins.

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