Saturday, December 10, 2016

How to Create a Blackout Poem Using Google Slides

There's a certain zen quality to creating traditional blackout poems...that is until in your Sharpie induced brain fog, you accidently mark over a word you needed then have to start all over. ;)

The zen before the breakdown, ha 

I love assigning blackout poems when we read challenging texts. I feel that it gives students a fun and effective way of finding main points, revealing author's craft, and highlighting deeper meanings of passages. For example, here is a passage from "To Build a Fire" by Jack London :
 The assignment that you see one of my students doing above was to find the central theme of the story by creating a blackout poem. Here are some digital examples of the outcome of this assignment:

(A student example printed out) 

Since I use blackout poetry in a less free-style and non-fluff way, I want my students to be able to revise their work and close read without fear of messing up their final product. Digital blackout poems to the rescue!!! Blackout poems without the Sharpie high, ink-stained fingers, and unintentional mistakes, whoop! 

How to Create a Blackout Poem Using Google Slides: 

If you prefer watching tutorials, here is mine:

If you would rather read the directions, read on: 

Step one: Open a new Google Slide 

Step 2: Right click and cut out all of the text boxes 

Step 3: Go to File>Page Setup 

Step 4: Click the drop down menu then select "custom." You will want your slide to be 8.5x11 if you wish for it to be printer paper size (***Note: when printing be sure to click "scale to fit" so that the edges aren't cut off) 

Step 5: Go get the text you want to use for your blackout poem. You will be copying and pasting this into your slide. 

Step 6: Paste it into your slide. You will need to play around with the text box, font, and font size to get it to where it fills up the entire page (***Note, make sure your font is single spaced before you get too precise with your text. See next picture for how to do this). If you find that you are in between font sizes on the scale, simply type in a number to make it the exact size you need. Notice that I needed size 20 font even though that wasn't an option in the drop down menu.  

Step 7: Duplicate your slide so that you have creative choices (background colors, font colors, etc) 

Step 8: To make the background black (or a different color). Go to Background >Color>Select Color. Be sure to change your font color to where it's readable! For example, the black background will need white font.  

Step 9: Now to the fun part!! Depending on which slide you are working on, change either the text color or the highlighting color to black out the words. For example, if you are using the white background, you will select the words you want to disappear and go to highlight then click black. 

Step 10: To add a little more artistic quality to it, you might choose to add in an image. 
 If you do want to add art, be sure to add the letters PNG after the term! This will give you a transparent background so that it doesn't mess up the look of your poem 

White background example:

I have included this activity in my Digital Unit Plan for "To Build  Fire" if you want to check it out! I'm in the process of digitalizing my entire catalog of lessons, so be sure to follow me while you are there for future Google and Microsoft lesson plans! :) 

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Are you in a Microsoft classroom? You can also create these digital poems in PowerPoint and OneNote! I have a separate post with these directions! 


  1. Great instructions. Thanks - will give it a go!

  2. Wonderful lesson! My 7th graders loved this. I would do this again using a rubric.

  3. Great content indeed.
    Very Useful post.
    Thanks for providing it

  4. Wonderful...really kind of you to share this cool idea.

  5. you should do a youtube how to video for this. :) The kids always love those for your other lessons.

  6. I love this! I never thought to use Google Slides.

  7. I am so stoked to try this with Night.


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