There’s nothing kids love more than talking and writing about themselves! Here’s a fun writing activity to get you going at the beginning of the year!
Autobiographical Poems for the First Week: Time 3-4 40 minute language periods
Period 1: 40 – 50 min.
Intro: Watch I am Canadian Commercial
Read Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon (attached at bottom)
Two options: 1. Print each student a copy and give them a few minutes each to read through the poem, before reading it together or
- Give each student a copy and just read through it together straight away on the SmartBoard
I always, always read anything that’s important together as a group, because 1. Even in grade 7 lots of kids are not strong readers and their ability to comprehend depends on hearing text and 2. I hate when kids tell me they don’t know what to do or aren’t sure what things mean, and if we read it together you really eliminate 90% of the excuses they give you when really they just weren’t paying attention.
After the read through give them 3-4 minutes with a partner to come up with some broad categories that the about me sections fall under.
Examples: important people, items found around your home, items found in yard, sayings, names of important food/ dishes, places they keep childhood memories.
Once you’ve come up with a good list of categories have them create a chart that lists the categories that are important to them and give them a few minutes to add a couple of things from each category.
Next start walking through the setup of the poem and the repetitive parts. I’m from, I am from, lists of important smells, sounds, objects, people.
Finally, read Where I’m From by Natalie Wright (who is a student poet, also attached at bottom)
Spend some time comparing the two and give students some more time to add to their charts.
Ask them to spend a few minutes at home with their parents, sharing thoughts and ideas about what’s important to them and their family history
Period 2: 40 minutes
Give students 5 minutes to have a quick pair/ share of the chart they created last day with an elbow partner.
Then give them another 5 to add anything that they thought of or that struck them while they were at home.
Success Criteria: Here is the most important Part
What do you actually want from them here. I have attached a rubric at the end, it is critical to review this with them before they begin writing.
Now it is time to begin rough drafts. Usually when I get kids started on the actual writing process I set timers on the Smartboard for 10min. or so and every time the timer goes off I have them either read it aloud to themselves or share it with a partner. This gives them some time to shake out the cobwebs and time to reevaluate what they’ve already written. They also know they will get time to share so they are less likely to chat during their writing time.
Period 3 & 4: Finish Rough Drafts and Publish work
For these periods you may want to allow your kids access to technology so once they are done editing they can type up their work.
Peer Editing: Have students get out their rough drafts, no matter what stage they are in. Either partner them up yourself or have them choose their own partners and give them some time to read over their partner’s work.
Step one: Using a coloured pen/ pencil have them mark any spelling or grammar errors that they come across.
Step two: Have them complete the two stars and a wish sheet and give their partner some constructive feedback.
HIghlight that ‘nothing’ is not an acceptable wish and that they are not doing their friend any favours by pretending their work is perfect (it never is).
Publishing: Have students type up their I am poems, print and then give them some time to decorate the margins.
When they submit I always have them include their peer edit component and the rubric they were given before starting.