Since we are nearing the end of the unit, kids should be completing at least one novel written in verse from the Book List: Novels Written in Verse. Many students will complete two or three. I've noticed that our librarian takes an active interest in what we're studying, so she tends to collect books for our various units, and displays them prominently throughout the library.
Then, as a class, we select one line from the poem that we deem the most interesting. Each student rewrites that line in their composition notebook, which becomes the first line of their new poem, based on the original.
Kids use this as inspiration to take their poems in many different directions. They always ask, does this line have to be the first? I guess the answer should technically be no, because the goal is to simply get them free-writing poetry, using all of the techniques we've been studying. However, it is kind of cool to end up with a selection of poems that all share the same first line. If you do this, you end up with an amazing collection of poems, all sharing the same first line.
Here are some student samples.
This one is based on the Langston Hughes poem "Dreams:
Here is a "Lift a Line" poem based on Kevin Prufer's "The Gladiator."
As a reminder, students read the two poems presented and answer the three homework questions.
I give them time to work in pairs on this at the end of the block. "Baseball" is a longer poem filled with figurative language, so extra in class time is nice.