Where We’re From

In July, I wrote this post about the work I’m trying as a result of reading Katie Kelley and Lester Laminack’s book, Reading Differently https://ebgriffin1119.wordpress.com/2019/07/21/where-im-from/

In this situation, I was working with adults; teachers who were preparing to launch Writing Workshop in their own classrooms.  Now I am trying this same work with kids, and boy has it been fascinating (as is most of the work we do with kids)! Recently, in a fifth grade classroom, I modeled my own Where I’m From poem and then played an interview from NPR where Kwame Alexander and Rachel Martin discuss the original Where I’m From poem by George Ella Lyons and encourage kids to write one and send it in. I invited the fifth graders to generate their own Where I’m From poems.  We then had each student select the one line that they felt best represented them and share it out into the circle.  The teacher followed up by having each student write their phrase on a colored strip of paper and she put them all together on a wall and titled the poem Where We’re From.  What a beautiful way to build an inclusive community.

Here are a few lines from this poem:

I’m from two loud grandparents, one fierce brother, two fun-filled parents, one harsh, but loving dog, one speedy clever cat, and one fish.

I’m from helping to make Thanksgiving dinner and watching the dog lick the bottom of the stove.

I’m from the uncomfortable airline seats flying to Taiwan and seeing my hundreds of family members.

I’m from doing backflips and not knowing what’s happening until I land.

I’m from sinking into the mattress that was named my sanctuary a long time ago, the fluff of the pillow my head calls home from falling into rest.

I’m from the savory taste of crunchy iceberg lettuce, juicy chicken, pita, shawarma sauce and more, swirling together into a blur of awesomeness to create the entire universe in one food.

This is just a sampling of the work, but these kids have used reading, writing, and listening to come together around their unique identities and they have created something truly beautiful.

 

2 thoughts on “Where We’re From”

  1. I love this poem and the way that it mentors writers into descriptions. Two years ago one of my classes created a “We are from” version of this poem and tried to include bits of all of them in the various lines. It remains one of my favourite student-generated pieces. Last year my class wasn’t interested in that – they didn’t gel in the same way – but I wonder if maybe I can try again this year. Thanks for the inspiration!

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