How to Implement the Lifted Line Poem Teaching Strategy in Your Classroom


This activity provides a creative way for learners to engage with the content after they have worked with it as a class. In a lifted line poem, learners collaborate to explore more deeply the words and experiences of first-hand accounts or fictional characters. After reading a short piece of content, learners select a line that they find meaningful and, as a class, transform these lines into a poem. The class may then collaborate to rearrange their lines in a different order that reflects a shift of mood or tone or a hierarchy of emotions, for instance. This activity provides learners with the time and space for individual reflection about what the content 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 content.


  1. Select a Text: Select a piece of short fiction or nonfiction content for this activity. Content with a powerful sense of voice, perhaps expressing the first-person point of view, or strong imagery tend to work well as source material.
  2. Prepare Learners for the Activity: After reading and discussing the selected content, tell learners 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 learners 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 may ask learners to write an explanation in their journals for why they lifted the line they chose.
    • When everyone has selected a line, ask the learners to stand and form a circle. Next, pick one learner to begin and a direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise). Each learner must read their line in succession in the direction you’ve chosen. Tell learners that it doesn’t matter if more than one person shares the same path.
  4. Discuss as a Class:
    • Discuss with learners any patterns they noticed in the lines they chose. Did multiple learners repeat any lines? Why did those repeated lines resonate with various learners?
    • What ideas seemed most meaningful and essential to the class? What thoughts were not embodied in the lifted line poem?
    • How does the class’s lifted line poem extend or challenging their thinking about the content?


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