Strategy

Where I'm From Poem

I Am From Poem

“Where I'm From” poems are written by students in the first person and include personal details about a student's experiences, culture, family, and home life. "Where I'm From" poems are based on the anchor text, George Ella Lyon’s poem “Where I'm From”. This anchor text is the basis for many “Where I'm From” poem templates that include prewriting questions. While drafting a “Where I'm From” poem, students are required to reflect on experiences and share sensory details that help illustrate his or her unique personhood. "Where I'm From" poems not only give teachers insight into their students' home life and cultural backgrounds but give students an opportunity to share his or her authentic voice. Students’ poems can be shared with the whole class and be used as an opportunity for teachers to validate and affirm individual student's diverse backgrounds and multiple identities at home (brother, chef, singer, etc).

Implementation Tips

Hook
Share YouTube videos with students reading "Where I'm From" poems as an engagement hook activity. This video from Julia Daniel's class from Tamalpais High School's Academy of Integrated Humanities is a great example: [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGb4oiUqlhA|Where I'm From]].
Anchor Text
Use George Ella Lyon’s poem [[http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/professional_development/workshops/writing/george_ella_lyon.pdf| “Where I'm From”]] as an anchor text.
Templates and Word Banks
Use Scholastic's “Where I'm From” poem [[https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-zPd837yVcwWEY4Z2hteEhva00/view|template]] in the prewriting stage and a [[https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/sensory-analysis-word-bank-6413558|sensory word bank]] during the drafting or editing phase.
Revisit “Where I'm From” Poems
Students can revisit their own “Where I'm From” poem at the end of the school year and reflect on what has changed. This could be a good opportunity to illustrate how our identity and mindset are not fixed and in fact we grow and change. Have students revise their poems to reflect their current self.

Examples

Student Choice of Expression
Provide students different options to express his or her poem such as: spoken word, a rap, a Power Point, illustration, dramatization, digital story, or YouTube video.
Where I'm From Poem Collection Book
Honor and validate the work students have done by compiling all poems together into a class book or digital book.
ELA - Character Analysis
Assign students a historical figure or a character from a novel and have them write a "Where I'm From" poem from their perspective. This can deepen his or her comprehension of who a character or historical figure is, as well as help to build empathy.
Where I'm Not From Poem
Provides student the opportunity to share misconceptions about his or her identity that may be untrue and/or hurtful.
Building Relationships
Have students analyze other students' poems and compare and contrast them with their own poem. Encourage students to find similarities and celebrate differences.

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