Bright Spot – PS 17 5th grade – Poem Puzzles


During the first session at PS 17, Teahing Artists Maria and Ally introduced the concept of “poetic license” so that students could feel free to explore and be creative. They created puzzle poems with an excerpt from Langston Hughes’ “Freedom Plow” by printing out the poem and cutting out each individual word.

Table groups were given a baggie filled with the poem puzzle, a piece of poster and asked to work together to put the puzzle together as they collectively decided. The purpose of this lesson was not to perfectly recreate the poem but to start to consider the power of word order and expose the students to collective creation.

The example below is a particularly strong final product created by a very thoughtful group of students.

Freedom Plow (excerpt)
by Langston Hughes 
The hand seeks other hands to help, a community of hands to help- Thus the dream becomes not one man’s dream alone, But a community dream.
Not my dream alone, but our dream.
Not my world alone, But your world and my world, Belonging to all the hands who build.

Puzzle Poem
My Community becomes the world, and our dream
seeks one community
Thus a man’s dream
Belonging to a world

CWP is providing programs at this school with the support of The New York Community Trust.