George Ella Lyons, contemporary poet from Kentucky, has crafted a nuanced genre of poetry commonly referred to as “I Am From” or “Where I’m from” Poems. This genre and approach is particularly valuable in engaging students in poetry writing because they may follow a recipe to support them in writing their own poem.
The recipe assures that every student can at the very least fill in the blanks with personal data that make the resulting poetry format both informational and owned by the student.
This includes personal details of address, foods, culture, and experiences, all of which contribute to the student’s expression of personal identity. Since every student knows his or her own identifying data and can fill in the template, this becomes an appealing, easy to do project.
Even more importantly using the Chromebook features, students can create a multimedia picture, music, recorded sound and personal artifacts rich version of the George Ella Lyons inspired anchor poem.
These poems can celebrate diversity or individuality or both. Of course, just as everyone who ice skates, does gymnastics, or roller blades is not necessarily talented at it, the quality of the writing and resulting poems will vary. However, as an introduction to formula-guided poetry writing and as a vehicle for self-expression, this activity is a winner. In particular, it also accesses through the chromebook the possibility of Google Earth or other public domain images of foreign country homes and residences and in some cases video of them that can have both a native language and an English poetry voiceover for this project. This is a shared poetry project that works well in classes with native speakers and ESL intermediate and advanced students.
George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From”
How to go from this anchor to student chromebook centered poems:
- First, the George Ella Lyons poem is read aloud. If the teacher is focused on listening skills he or she or another colleague can record the poem aloud and have students listen to it.
- Next, the following essential questions are used to focus students on author craft, style, and word choice.
– What items in her daily life does Lyons include in the poem that describe or authenticate her?
– Do any of these items mentioned bring to your mind similar items that describe you and where you are from?
– In what ways did studying this poem help you set a model or begin to list some of the actions or items which help “explain” who you are?
- Have the students list the items from the poem that help “define” George Ella. Have them list them in separate word docs. Within this word doc, have students list parallel items of address/geographical site (s), foods, and lyrics or words which they feel define themselves. Remind them that they can use their chromebooks to literally get audio files for the lyrics and perhaps pictures and specific geographical representations for the foods they like.
- Have them share these as a group. Their discussion may be videoed or taped to inspire other peer classes or to post online as a starting video before other chromebook network classes do this project. Nothing can make this more owned by the students than an opening video discussion run by school or chromebook network peers.
- Give out the template for the poem (see options for this below). Point out that there is no single correct way to fill in the blanks, but that the very best way is to give as many detailed responses as will fit the blanks. Point out that given the student backgrounds, their responses can be in different languages (which they can record as an audio file) and reflect different cultural eating, manners, and values traditions. As long as the students provide an explanation through language (in English) or through bringing in an actual object or item, that is fine, and that explanation will enrich the understanding of everyone in the classroom.
- Discuss with the students how they might take their filled in template and use it or modify it to be their finished poem.
- Students may want to finish their poems at home, where they can and share them with their parents and get additional ideas about explaining their background which can be included in the poems
- Have the poems shared aloud in class with the student poets reading their own poetry or designating peers to read the poems for them. These can be recorded and students can receipt written or audio comments from other peers in the Chromebook school or invited network, Students might give one another feedback, suggestions on how to improve poems, etc.
Students should be directed to research and gather images that they feel illustrate the ideas and that express the feelings that they hope to communicate through the words of their poem. These images can be inserted into 1 or more PowerPoint slides (depending on the length of their poem) and serve as a visual backdrop for their poem’s text. The text can be put in over the images by inserting a text box into the slide and typing their words in that.
The poems will be assembled into a class Where I Am From collection of poems, each with an accompany digital photograph or visual art or assemblage of art reflecting the items mentioned. There will also be a Power Point presentation of the poems with audio of student speakers and art interspersed. Chromebook visual slides can be projected behind student speakers.
Beyond the technical quality and digital as well as print personally performed works inspired by this project, the very act situating one’s self in community with distinctive sounds, scents, music, culture and manners, is a needed springboard to evolving a proactive adult community stakeholder. Studying where you are from inspires where you are going and how you will go back and forth within your lifespan.
Note: PowerPoint, the suggested software platform for this project will allow users to record their voice directly into the slide presentation.
e) Standards Alignment
|Common Core Standards in ELA|
|Reading: Literature and Informational Literature||Key Ideas and Details: RL._.1 – RL._.2 – RL._.3
Craft and Structure: RL._.4 – RL._.5 – RL._.6
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: RL._.7 – RL._.8 – RL._.9
Range of Reading and Complexity of Text: RL._.10
|Writing||Text Types and Purposes: W._.1 – W._.2 – W._.3
Production and Distribution of Writing: W._.4 – W._.5 – W._.6
Research to Build and Present Knowledge: W._.7 – W._.8 – W._.9
Range of Writing: W._.10
|Speaking & Listening||Comprehension and Collaboration: SL._.1 – SL._.2 – SL._.3
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: SL._.4 – SL._.5 – SL._.6
|Language||Conventions of Standard English: L._.1 – L._.2
Knowledge of Language: L._.3
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: L._.4 – L._.5 – L._.6
|1. Creativity and Innovation: a – b
2. Communication and Collaboration: a – b
3. Research and Information Fluency: a – b – c
4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making: a – b – c
5. Digital Citizenship: a – b – c
6. Technology Operations and Concepts: a – b- d
Suggested Texts –These texts focus on the poets using data from the natural world, cultural worlds, and objects to define their identity. The Red-Hot Salsa is a bilingual Spanish –English contemporary collection. These poems can be used to situate ESL, Newcomers, and regular education students to share data in the poems.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Emily Dickinson, I’m Nobody
Red Hot Salsa. Collected poetry edition.
George Ella Lyons’ poem is accessible from her website http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html Also see her print book of the same title as the poem: Where I’m From.
Poem templates: There are many online. Here are some examples. Teachers are encouraged, though, to modify these to reflect the specific learning interests and needs of their students:
Dr. Rose Reissman,
Academic and Grant Funding Director for Sector 5
About Sector 5,
Sector 5, Inc. (OTCQB: SFIV), is a Proud American Corporation, that sells, manufactures and develops new innovative consumer electronics under Sector 5 and other brands. The Company markets its partnership with Google approved Chromebooks to educational organizations, other B2B and B2C sales channels, with retail sales on Amazon. It is in development of several new products to serve the educational, business and retail markets. Follow the company on http://www.twitter.com/sectorfiveinc and http://www.facebook.com/sect5 and find further information at http://www.sector-five.com. For Sector 5’s Forward Looking Statements, click here.