Saturday, January 19, 2013

Where I'm From...

We are wrapping up a short poetry unit we began last week.  Since it was a short week, I didn't really want to start a new unit, but wanted to do something substantial with my kids.

My absolute FAVORITE writing that I have every done with my kids is the Where I'm From poem.  I know many of you have done the same type of writing.  Normally, I do this as the first writing unit at the beginning of the year, but this year started with a ton of craziness, so we didn't start with it.  

I think this is one of the most powerful pieces of writing that my kids do throughout our time together.  

We began our unit by reading Marie Bradby's book Momma, Where Are You From?  If you don't have this book in your collection - get it now.  It is a beautiful illustrated book that digs deep into the nuances of where people are from.  Instead of simply stating geographical places, the main characters add experiences, dialogue, smells, and tastes that are indicative of the family culture that is created.

My students began with a guided imagery pre-write.  We chose a place that we really connected to first.  For some kids, that was not the home they lived in, but maybe grandmother's house, a favorite place that is visited every year, etc.  I had one kid that actually chose our classroom (their choices tell me the place they feel most safe sometimes). Then we closed our eyes and approached the house visualizing what we saw, what we heard, the smells, the tastes, the words that were spoken, etc.

After the guided imagery, we listened to George Ella Lyon's "Where I'm From" poem from her website.

Our mini-lessons focused on imagery, similes, metaphor, etc.  After the guided imagery, we then went back into our pre-write and chose words or phrases that needed to be expanded and added similes, metaphors, and other pieces of figurative language.

The poems were graded on voice and word choice using our state rubric.

Once students published their work, we then published it in BookCreator and added student voices to the mix.  I loved hearing the voices of my students read their own work.

Here are a few examples:

Where I'm From by:Mya
        I am from a place where The grass gleams with sunlight

 I am from a place where an old tree stump turned into a covered hill.
 I am from a place where squirrels run across the top of my fence.

 I am from Sallisha and Doug a caring couple that everyone loves.
      I am the pictures of my family on most of my tables.

          I am from the sweet smells of my Mom's perfume.
   I am from the smell of crunchy bacon sizzling on my stove top.
          I am from the smell of cookies baking in my oven.

    I am from the mashed potatoes and the too sweet of collards.
    I am from coffee in the morning to that sweet ole lemonade.
        I'm from "I love you","goodnight"to "get out!"
           I am from " Hi  MyMy ! "and  "See you later!"
                         This is where I'm from

Where  I'm From

I'm from where the birds chirp a sweet song in the morning lifting me out of bed. Sun piercing my eye. 
From a hot summer gaze into the sky scarring my eyes with shine. From where sweet tastes become wonderlands of joy.  
To Hot Chocolate with marshmallows like bundles of snow. 

      This is where I'm from.

From where the collards are as green as grass,and the tomatoes are fiery red. Where the carrots cut evenly while they simmer and crackle in a pot.

      This is where I'm from.

  I'm from where the pizza always wants to be in the oven, and where someone often wants to go to Jersey Mikes.

       This is where I'm from.

    I'm from where there's always excitement from every corner to cook whenever there needs to be help.
        This is where I'm from. 

 I'm from where there's a hoot or holler echoing off the walls into different directions until it comes to me to make my ears ring.

          This is where I'm from.

I AM FROM...    
by Tom

I am from a couch as brown as bark , from a mailbox as white as snow, a drum set as green as grass, a chandelier as gold as hair. I am from chatting as loud as a tuba, from the best pasta there is, from the softest cushion to the hardest floor, that is where I'm from.

I am from the bounciest trampoline, from grass as green as leafs, a garage as big as the 
White house. I am from a house with bricks as red as autumn leafs, from a floor withe the hardest wood, that is where I'm from.

I am from the tallest fort and the smallest driveway , from a teacher that teaches us, a sister that whines and "GET OUT OF MY ROOM". I am from "honey where's the toilet paper? From can we have a dog? That is where I'm from.

Love, Love, Love this unit!

I'm linking up with Amanda at Teaching Maddeness for Friday Flashback!


  1. LOVE those poems, Shasta! I love to do this with my 2nd graders during poetry, but your older kiddos can expand on it so much better! ;) I am sure those poems become treasured keepsakes at home.

    Teaching Maddeness

  2. Great unit and poems! Thanks for sharing!


  3. Thank you for sharing this--you are helping me plan an art lesson for first graders about where they are from. I hope you don't mind if I read some of them to the kids!

  4. Those were awesome poems!! :)


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