Teaching your students what free verse is is obviously a great starting point :) For this activity, I had students bring in a copy of a page from a book (as a precaution, I also had an old copy of Animal Farm that was already falling apart). We looked at lots of examples, did one together, going through the steps, and then I simply set them free!
I suggest starting with a pencil. You should peruse the page without really reading- just look for words, phrases, or even sentences that stand out to you. Once you've found something to focus on, create the rest of the poem around it. Put a box around the words you want to use. These poems are still read from top to bottom right to left, so make sure they are easy to follow! Once you have your poem, either black out the left-over words or decorate around the words you're keeping (especially if you can make the drawing emphasize the message).
Our Class Examples
Everyone participated AND most students were happy to do more than one. Students who wished to share were welcome to present their poems to the class.
Next time, if I were going to do something different, I would have them analyze the grammar- why not?! It would also be interesting to give students the same page and see how many different poems are created. We could also identify themes and analyze connotation and meaning.