Monday, August 3, 2009

Where I'm From

Have you read Where I'm From, an amazing poem by George Ella Lyon? If not, click here to read it. During the first few weeks of school, while you are getting to know your students, it would be a fun idea to have them write a poem using it as a model, or mentor text.

I wrote one this afternoon, and it was not as easy as it looks! My struggle illustrates yet again the need for us, as writing teachers, to write ourselves. (I still maintain that we shouldn't ask our students to do what we are not willing to do ourselves.)

Here is the first draft of my poem:

I am from dirt roads and tobacco farms,
From Old Bay and Sears and Roebuck.
I am from the little green house on 15 acres.
Oak trees swaying, birds singing, and heavy with deer.

I am from the Chesapeake Bay,
Laden with blue crabs,
Bushels, steamed and dumped on newspaper every Wednesday I can remember.
I’m from Christmas at Nana’s, and eyes that disappear when we smile.
From Mike and Jack (one mom, one dad),
From Girl Scouts and 4-H, eating breakfast for dinner when Dad worked late.
I’m from “Do your best” to “You may not be excused until you finish your peas.”
From CCD, CYO, and Our Father Who Art in Heaven,
Pancake suppers and Fat Tuesdays.
From hotdogs on Mondays to spaghetti on Fridays, but not during Lent.

I am from the time Tommy plunged into the icy lake to save a drowning ice-skater.
From Grandaddy’s forbidden chocolate covered cherries and Nana’s three bean salad.
From Andy Gibb in fifth grade to Prince in eleventh,
Hotel California, Stayin’ Alive, Let It Be, and Dancing Queen.
From kickball in the street with ghost runners and roaming the neighborhood all day.
(You better come home the first time you are called.)
Dusty, faded memories, stacked haphazardly in a shirt box on the top shelf.

Here are some helpful links if you would like to try this out in your classroom.

Step-by-step instructions
Template and sample

Okay, now it's your turn:

Where are you from?