The Learning Hub

MS/HS Poetry Collaboration

Subject:  English/Language Arts

Grades:  6-12

Creating sophisticated poetry can be an intimidating challenge for some at the middle at the high school levels.  Students may hit a complete road block when trying to get started on choosing a theme for their poem or even selecting the most effective words to articulate their verse.  Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative poetry game that can get students past their initial intimidation.  Coupled with the Write About This app, it may even help them realize how the arrangement of simple words can make amazing poetry!


The Activity

Depending on the comfort and experience level of the students, the Exquisite Corpse game can be set up in different ways.  The premise of the game is based on participants contributing a word or line(s) of text after seeing only a concealed portion of preceding words/text.  The end result is a collaborative poem in which the theme, text, and flow is a surprise to the entire group.

Key Procedures for a Successful Poetry Collaborative

  1. Have small groups of students choose a Write About This image prompt or create a Custom prompt as a fundamental starting point for the collaborative poem.
  2. Students decide on a format for the lines of their poem.  This can include adjective, noun, verb, adjective, noun and so forth.
  3. Developing writers can create their poem by contributing words (and even include current vocabulary words!).  More comfortable writers can contribute single or multiple lines of text each.
  4. Conduct the game round in a “pass the iPad” fashion.  The first student can write their initial word/poem line in the Write About This app and pass the iPad to the next person.
  5. Remember that students must “conceal” everything written for the next writer except for the previous word/poetry lines that were just written.  This can be done by entering lines in the Write About This app or physically covering what was written with a piece of paper.
  6. Consider setting a time limit to create the poem.  This can range from 10 minutes to a little longer depending on the student level.  Remember that students are to exercise their focus on creating a single word/line from the preceding, so there shouldn’t be a need to give an extensive amount of time for the entire exercise.

The Product

Choose one reader to read the finished collaborative poem to the group.  The poem can be shared through the Write About This app to teachers and parents either as plain text or with an audio recitation by the group or a single student!

What’s Next?

Supplementary extension activities can include:

  • Have a poetry reading for the whole class and invite guests to hear the collaborative poems.  This can include other classes, parents, and community authors/poets.
  • Upload shared Write Abouts with audio recordings to class or student blogs, YouTube channel, or another online showcase.
  • Have students create an illustration for their poem.
  • Complete a poetry analysis activity with students regarding poems of other groups.  They can respond to questions based on the current poetry unit of study and identify elements such as similes, metaphors, alliteration, etc.



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Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

Lani deGuia is a teacher, instructional technologist, and social media manager.  She has over 13 years of educational experience in traditional and online classroom settings for both K-12 and adult learners. She currently works in digital content and strategy for businesses and personally blogs at Rose Tinted Traveler.

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