Students compose and share a biographical poem using descriptive language, sensory details, personality traits, emotions, and actions.

Objectives

  1. Cognitive: Students will be able to identify and communicate their personal traits and characteristics.
  2. Affective: Students will develop a positive self-concept about unique traits, recognizing and accepting the diversity of peers.

Materials

Journals or paper and writing utensils

Facilitator Prep

Prepare an “I am” poem of your own to share as an example.

Exercise

Time Activity Notes
1 min
  • Explain to students that they will be using imagination, descriptive language, and personal preferences to complete a biographical poem.
  • Then they will share their poems anonymously while aiming to be supportive of their other classmates as they share theirs.
Remind students that each poem will be different. There is no right or wrong way to compose this poem.
2-8 min
  • Walk students through the following outline of the “I am’ poem”, asking them to write their own and encouraging their use of sensory details.
  • They should not put their names on their poems.

First Stanza
I am (2 special characteristics you have),
I wonder (something of curiosity),
I hear (an imaginary sound),
I see (an imaginary sight),
I want (a desire),
I am (the first line of the poem repeated).

Second Stanza
I pretend (something you pretend to do),
I feel (a feeling about something imaginary),
I touch (an imaginary touch),
I worry (something that bothers you),
I cry (something that makes you sad),
I am (the first line of the poem repeated).

Third Stanza
I understand (something that is true),
I say (something you believe in),
I dream (something you dream about),
I try (something you really make an effort about),
I hope (something you actually hope for),
I am (the first line of the poem repeated).

Optional:

  • Introduce the poem’s structure and have students complete a draft as a homework assignment.
  • Or, have students complete 1 stanza per class session, offering students the opportunity to review and revise.
Either hand out a printout or post on a board for all to see the structure and instructions for the poem and suggestions.

Encourage students to disclose only what they feel comfortable sharing.

Consider posing the stanza lines as questions to generate responses.

For example: “What do you wonder about?” “What do you wish you could see?”

Optional: Offer a rubric mapped onto English class or adopt a rubric for purposes of this lesson.

9-10 min
  • Collect anonymous student poems and read through a few to class, asking students one thing they could say or do to the person (whose poem you read) to help that person feel more safe and comfortable.
  • Wrap up the activity by highlighting that each student’s individuality makes the community more diverse. Being open to and supportive of each other’s differences helps us all feel more safe and comfortable in our community.

Optional: After poems are collected, hand out again so that no student has his or her own poem.

  • Go around the room (on one day or spread across multiple days) and have students:
    • Read the student’s poem that they have
    • Say one thing they could say or do to the person (whose poem they read) to help that person feel more safe and comfortable.
    • Discuss as a class how this process can help us to better understand and accept others.
What’s it like describing yourself and sharing with your peers?

How might this activity help our learning environment feel more safe and comfortable?

Optional: Dim lights or create the environment to read anonymously.

 

 

Facilitator Reflection

How did you feel after the activity? Did students participate and seem engaged?

Remember to ask the students to share their feedback on the activity: What went well? What suggestions do they have for making the activity better? Think about what you might do differently next time.

Emotional Intelligence Tips

  • Offer suggestions for content for student poems if students seem stuck.
  • Encourage students to be patient, respectful, and open, and to reserve judgment of themselves and of others and their ideas and poems.

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