The very brilliant Linda Christensen has created a poetry-writing activity called "Where I'm From." Using George Ella Lyon's poem of a similar theme, she has students create lists of items in their home, yard, and neighborhood. She has students write down sayings they hear around their houses, food they eat with their families, and places they keep childhood memories. Doing this activity last year inspired this poem.
To get to know my new students this year, I took the activity a step further. After we made our lists and wrote our poems, I had students write their poem out on a sheet of paper with their name on the back. We then hung our poems up in the classroom. I read the poems aloud. Then, students wrote each others' names on post-it notes and put their post-its to the poem they thought corresponded to the correct classmate. Students then looked to see how well people had guessed before turning in their poems. We debriefed by talking about what we learned about each other and our community from the activity.
Students had the option to turn their poem in without hanging it up, but most chose to participate. Everyone else was really good about not judging those who chose not to participate. We're going to start blogging next quarter, and I think we might start out by doing another draft of those poems. I'm not exactly sure how to make that work for students who don't want to share their work. We did essays our name as our first workshop, so that's an option, too. What do y'all think? Any ideas on how to balance students' needs for privacy with instilling confidence in who they are?