Introduction: In my reading class of 4-6th graders, reading at a
fifth grade level, I am reading aloud a book called Homeless
Bird by Gloria Whelan. It
is set in the past in India.
The main character, Koly, marries at a very young age, as
many young Indians girls do.
In the book, quilting and embroidering are important themes
of the story. Memories
of your earlier life as a child are often embroidered in quilts
that prepare them for marriage and continue throughout one’s
life. We took this
idea and related it in our own lives.
What kinds of memories make up our quilts? We had a great discussion, and it sparked an idea to do some
poetry with these images. This
discussion made me realize that it would work perfectly with the
“I remember” lesson mentioned on p. 78-82 in the required
text, Poetry Everywhere.
Students will write a poem that is a meaningful
reflection or memory of their lives.
Materials: Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan, paper, pencils, art
materials (crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc…).
Procedures: First, I read the first few chapters from the read aloud, Homeless
discussions on the main character and her embroidered memories
will be important to set the tone.
Take a good amount of time to allow students to discuss
with each other what memories they would embroider if they were to
create a personal quilt of their own.
What objects/shapes/pictures would be included?
Then share as a class.
Next, students will write as many memories to complete the
statement, “I remember…” Tell them it doesn’t have to be
important, but can be just a memory that sticks out in their
minds. It can be
anything from the day they were born to this very moment.
Allow students as much time as they need or you see fit to
write as many “I remember” memories (see page 78 in the text, Poetry
Next, have students, who wish to share, read some aloud.
The next lesson involved discussing what good writing is.
I had them give me as many ideas to what makes good
writing. Keep going
until you get something that relates to “details,” or
on details, creating mind-movies, and appealing to the senses.
Next, have them choose one memory.
Have them focus on detail, creating a vivid picture, vivid
colors, and sensory details that bring the memory to life, as if
they were reliving the moment. Students will find a thesaurus very helpful.
I also met with students on an individual level to discuss
their poem, focusing on word choice and form.
I gave suggestions to revisions and form of the poem. I
also was able to do this while continuing my other curriculum in
Ideally, I wanted students to be able to publish their work
before this weekend, but was unable to complete that task.
Instead, I had them write them neatly and draw a picture that
represented that memory, keeping in mind that it was to relate to
being embroidered on their memory quilt.
Evaluation: If my students feel that they have accomplished something and
feel proud that they are actual poets, I feel I have been
were excitedly running up to me asking if we were going to work on
“I remember…” poems. Various
students have been asking if we can share them.
Many, through gestures and their tone of voice, were very
touched and proud of their poems that they created.
These poems are so personal and therefore, make them
meaningful and special for everyone.
Follow-up: I would like to see students share these, as long as they
feel comfortable in doing so.
My reading class is very much a family, (I have them for
the longest period of time in a block) and would like time to
reflect and hear other poems that their peers have written.
An additional art activity would to by white fabric and
have them trace their picture that represents the memory of the
poem. They can use
fabric paints to decorate or crayons.
Crayon fabric would then be ironed and sewed together.
This can be displayed in the classroom or somewhere in the
school for everyone to see.
Reflection: I really think that next time, I would spend more time on
students writing more detail, vivid descriptions, and using
colorful words in their writing before doing this lesson.
They struggled in word choice and being able to add detail
to bring the memory to life.
However, as I’m reading these poems, I am simply amazed.
Most of these poems were awesome and fun to read.
To see students proud to be writing poetry and to hear
students talking enthusiastically about writing poetry makes me
feel content and successful as a teacher.
I also feel that I know more about my students, and see
more of their abilities and talents in this genre.
I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
C. & Noethe,
S. (2000). Poetry
Everywhere. New York: Teachers and Writers