Acrostics and Shadow Poems

Two Writing Teachers Blog đŸ™‚

Today I had the opportunity to finally put one of the Ethical ELA poetry prompts to use with students! It was a rewarding and engaging lesson in the long-term substitution I’m doing in grade 11 sociology.

I wrote an acrostic with its shadow earlier this week.

Today in sociology, we were looking at social problems because they are going to develop a charity proposal. The teacher had me do that. He’ll be back the week after next, so then he’ll do something with it. I just had two more classes with them, so I stretched out this charity proposal. Since it’s (Inter)national Poetry Month, I thought we should write some poetry. Here is my sample for them.

First we brainstormed a list of social problems they were concerned about and how and by whom the solutions would come. (We didn’t dig very deeply, though. It’s been millennia and the world hasn’t figured out how to solve them, so I guess 11th graders in Bahrain can’t be expected to in one period.)

Then they collectively wrote an acrostic using the words SOCIAL PROBLEMS.

n danger of


I told them about shadow poems, as Stacey Joy had taught us this week, how they could take the foundation of the acrostic and search for the deeper shadow poem within the acrostic. They were to find the shadow poem of one of the social problems they had chosen to explore. One pair chose teenage smoking, others: sexual harassment, racism, mental health, unemployment, malnutrition, poverty. The poems are becoming beautiful, as they are continuing to work on them. Here are a few lines from some of their poems:

The constant danger is rising and everyone is not speaking about it. No one is aware; everyone is blindfolded.

We are all In danger of being harmed or harming others. Why is my mental health overlooked, why am I not heard nor seen?

How many people were shunned by society because they are unemployed? How many were overwhelmed with pressure from others to get a job?

It was so great to be able to bring the joy of poetry into the social studies classroom. What a great writing assignment, as opposed to their regular  written paragraphs and essays. I’m sold! Thank you, Stacey!

We are still in the first week of daily #verselove poetry prompts on Ethical ELA for the month of April. Do come along for the joy found in this writing community. (Did you see Dr. Kim Johnson’s poem about what writing communities bring?)

6 thoughts on “Acrostics and Shadow Poems

  1. Wow! I love that you had them writing poetry in social studies!!! Their snippets are absolutely beautiful. I had never heard of shadow poems before, and they seem like a really powerful way to dig deeper!

  2. Oh wow, Denise, this is phenomenal! I love the topic of writing about social problems as an organic way to connect poetry with social studies! You and your students ROCK!! Thank you for acknowledging me as well. You are truly appreciated.

    1. Thank you, Stacey! It was a great start to introducing poetry in a content course with older students. (I had no experience!) We will continue next week, as some classes didn’t get to finish.

  3. Denise, this is fantastic! I know it made your heart burst with joy that the students got so into it. Poetry is the balm!

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