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Lesson Plan Title: Brainstorm for "Where I'm From" poem

Grade Level: 9-12

Duration: . Brainstorming: 50 minutes; Writing/Reviewing/Revising and Polishing this poem can be homework or separate class lessons.

Description: This poetry exercise is inspired by George Ella Lyon's poem, "Where I'm From." It emphasizes creating powerful images in poetry. It's a good assignment to start with in your classes because imagery is the most important element in most poems. Many students who are new to poetry will think of poetry as rhyme and this exercise will introduce an important new skill. Students will go back in their memories for images that stick in their minds and sights, smells, sounds, tastes and touches from their childhoods. They will eventually use this brainstorm to create a "Where I Am From" poem.

Student Objectives: Students will brainstorm with the goal of writing poems that use unique imagery and description.

List Materials (PDF):

  1. "Where I'm From", student example by Scholastic Art & Writing gold medal winner Natalie Wright
  2. "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon
  3. Sensory Detail Brainstorm reproducible

Set Up and Prepare: Make copies of the Sensory Detail Brainstorm reproducible for each student. Arrange chairs facing the board for an initial mini-lesson.


PART I: Mini-lesson on sensory detail

Write all of the senses on the board (Taste, Touch, Smell, Hear, See). As a group, brainstorm about your school's cafeteria. Write down student ideas in the columns on the board. Emphasize using specific rather than generic description, and using metaphor and simile in their description.

PART II: Individual Brainstorm

Students think about their own childhoods and brainstorm lists on their Sensory Detail Brainstorm reproducibles.

Assess Students: As students brainstorm individually, talk to them about their memories. If they list something generic like "food" under "smell", ask them follow-up questions. What kind of food? What did it smell like (can you make a cool simile?)? For these poems, this is the most important step for providing good feedback. If the students create rich, unique images during this stage, their poems will be very good.

Lesson Extension: To build these lists into poems, students will pick out the images and details that are the most meaningful to them. When they start writing, they can repeat the phrase "I am from." in order to structure their poems if they would like. Students can then go on to peer review, revise, polish and publish their pieces.

Evaluate Lesson: Are the images and details that students brainstorm unique and colorful, rich and meaningful? Are subsequent poems rich in imagery and sensory detail?

Assignments: The initial writing of the poem could be a homework assignment.