My Identity: Poetry Writing
- Read a set of poems, and reflect on how the authors expressed aspects of their identity by utilizing different literary tools and techniques
- Write and share identity poems with classmates to learn more about each other’s background, experiences, and perspectives
Research shows that multicultural poetry helps spark classroom discussions around cultural diversity and marginalized identity groups, and creates space for students to share about their own background and experiences. Educators should encourage students to practice self-awareness as they determine which characteristics to share about themselves, and perspective taking as they listen to their peers’ poetry and seek to understand each other’s identity.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
- Invite students to read poetry that revolves around the theme of identity, and decide whether students will focus on the same set of poems as a class, or work in a small group to read and share reflections on different poems. You might even ask students to perform different poems for the class! A few poetry examples:
• I, Too by Langston Hughes
• Identity by Julio Noboa
• Jabari Unmasked by Nikki Grimes
• This is Not a Small Voice by Sonia Sanchez
• Ellis Island by Joseph Bruchac
• In This Place (An American Lyric) by Amanda Gorman
• My Mountains by Gabriela Mistral
• This Body by Renée Watson
• Knock Knock by Daniel Beaty
• I Ask My Mother to Sing by Li-Young Lee
• Amphibians by Joseph O. Legaspi
- After students read their poems, engage them in a discussion by asking the following questions:
• What did you learn about the author’s identity from their poem? What are some of their values, passions, joys, fears, sources of pride, or goals?
• How does the author view themselves? How do they view the world?
• What factors influence the author’s identity? (e.g., their family, friends, experiences, ethnicity, and culture)
• What is something that you liked about the poem?
• Did you notice any particular literary techniques, like the spacing of words or the poem’s rhythm or structure? What was the effect of this technique?
• Did you see any elements of yourself or your identity in the poem(s) that you read?
• What parts of your identity would you share in your own poem? What emotions do you want to express, or invoke in your reader?
- Provide space for students to write their own poems about their identities. Share a list of different aspects they might include, such as their:
• Hobbies and interests
• Family and friends
• Race and ethnicity
Encourage students to get creative, and use some of the literary techniques that they observed! For example, students might experiment with blackout poetry, use a haiku format, or create an acrostic poem!
- Hold an “Open Mic” event, and invite students to read their poems aloud. Consider leading a larger event with other classes, or an Empatico partner class, to help students gain an understanding and appreciation of their peers’ identities.
- Prompt students to write a poem that is 3-7 lines long, and which depicts an important part of their identity (e.g., a special memory, cultural tradition, or hope for the future).
- Then, students will follow a tutorial that guides them through a coding exercise to animate a poem and illustrate its mood. First, they will read and detect the mood of a famous poem, then use coding to add different effects and images that capture this mood. The tutorial can be found here (note: students will need to create a Code.org account to access this page and save their project).
- Once students have completed the introductory tutorial, they will use a new tutorial to animate the identity poem that they wrote earlier! Remind them what they learned about coding effects, sprites, and events in the previous tutorial, and to consider how they can use these coding elements to capture the feeling of their own poem.
- Make sure students capture a screen recording or save the project link for their animated poem so they can share it with their peers!
If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...
Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call.
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.
If students in either class don’t have individual devices...
Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.