Lifted Line Poem


This activity provides a creative way for students to engage in a text after they have worked with it as a class. In a lifted line poem, students collaborate to explore more deeply the words and experiences of first-hand accounts or fictional characters. After reading a short text, students select a line that they find meaningful and, as a class, transform these lines into a poem. The class might then collaborate to rearrange their lines in a different order that reflects a shift of mood or tone or a hierarchy of emotions, for example. This activity provides students with the time and space for individual reflection about what the text means to them as they select their lines, as well as the opportunity to engage in a class discussion while debriefing the activity that focuses on the language of the text.


  1. Select a Text
    Select a short fiction or nonfiction text for this activity. Texts with a powerful sense of voice, perhaps expressing a first-person point of view, or strong imagery tend to work well as source material.
  2. Prepare Students for the Activity
    After reading and discussing the selected text, tell students that they will be working together to create a lifted line poem in which they will each select a meaningful line from the reading and then work together to create a poem from those lines.
  3. Create the Lifted Line Poem
    • Instruct students to review their whole reading, select one line that is most meaningful, important, or revealing to them and mark it with a star or underline it.
    • If you have time, you might ask students to write an explanation in their journals for why they lifted the line they chose.
    • When everyone has selected a line, ask the students to stand and form a circle. Next, pick one student to begin and a direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise). Each student should read his or her line in succession in the direction you've picked. Tell students that it doesn’t matter if more than one person shares the same line.
  4. Discuss as a Class
    • Discuss with students any patterns they noticed in the lines they chose. Were any lines repeated by multiple students? Why did those repeated lines resonate with multiple students?
    • What ideas seemed most meaningful and important to the class? What ideas were not represented in the lifted line poem?
    • How does the class’ lifted line poem extend or challenging their thinking about the text?


  1. Lifted Line Revision
    Time permitting, engage the class in the process of thoughtfully rearranging students into a new order to deliver their lines that achieves maximum impact through repetition, dissonance, or theme.
  2. Multiple Texts, Multiple Voices
    Consider using more than one text for this activity. For example, you might select 2-3 passages that reflect different characters’ interpretations of a scene or 2-3 differing first-hand accounts of a historical event. Divide the texts so that equal numbers of students are responding to them and follow the instructions above to create the poem. Your class discussion might focus on what the poem reveals about the differing viewpoints, and you might use variation #1 to reorder the poem to emphasize the similarities and differences the multiple texts express.

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