Monday, January 5, 2009

I Am From Poems

Try this wonderful activity with your students to get them reflecting on their lives - and you learning more about them!


Ask your students to write on a piece of paper:

(This is a suggested list. We have also created some modified lists for discipline specific projects below.)

  • Characteristics of the town they grew up in;
  • Values they were taught as children;
  • Kinds of food they loved growing up;
  • Kinds of food they hated while growing up;
  • What they were taught to fear;
  • What they were taught to love;
  • Significant people they loved;
  • And any other thoughts they want to write down that flow from what they have already written

Then ask your students to compose statements that being with "I am from," using what they have written and adding anything else they want. Encourage them to play with rhythm and flow; for instance, one "I am from" could be followed by a laundry list of places, names, and statements, followed by a series of lines where "I am from" is repeated over and over followed by only one word or phrase each time.

When they are finished, ask for half of the group to sit in a semicircle facing the other half (the audience) and stand behind them. (You may want to work with less than half your class, groups of 3-5 work well.) Have students place their poems in front of them. Tell the students you will tap their shoulder to have them begin reading and tap it again when you want them to stop. If they finish reading what they wrote they should go back to the beginning and continue reading until tapped to stop. Your job is to orchestrate the reading - sometimes having a student read solo, other times initiating simultaneous speaking, sequencing and so forth. When the first group is finished, invite another group to perform.

Then reflect on the process and the product with your class.

Keep in mind that you should modify this activity depending on the needs of your group - you can simply change the prompts or the overall structure. For Pre-K and K students you may ask them to draw pictures instead of writing words. Prompts for younger students might concern favorite colors, foods, cartoon characters, etc.

Subject Area Modifications#

For secondary school subject areas this could be a great way to learn how your students feel about what they're learning. Consider using prompts like those that follow and inserting your particular subject in the blanks.

  • What do you like best about ________?
  • What do you dislike about _______?
  • What aspects of this subject are hardest for you to learn?
  • What do you need as a student to make learning this subject easier?
  • What do you need as a student to make learning this subject more interesting?
  • When have you enjoyed learning _______?
  • What people do you remember teaching you ______?
  • What words do you associate with ______?
  • Why do you think it's important to learn ______?

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