Until September 28th, I am hosting the Ashley Bryan Traveling Exhibit of Illustrated Africana Children’s Literature featuring the artwork of Shadra Strickland. This exhibit showcases 8 works of art from the books White Water, Bird, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, Our Children Can Soar, and Eliza’s Freedom Road. There is also a curriculum guide that incorporates the art and books into lessons about making text to text and text to self connections, response to literature, and more. I took these lessons and wondered how I might adapt them to various kinds of learning that I try to support in my media center.
One of lessons invites students to write “Where I’m From” poems from the perspective of a character in the story or artwork. I wondered how I might support students in writing a collaborative “where I’m from” poem rather than individual poems, so I turned to Poll Everywhere
Poll everywhere allows you to create an open ended or multiple choice questions that students can respond to in a variety of ways: poll everywhere website, texting, tweeting. With a free educator account, you can receive up to 40 responses per poll and the responses feed into a real-time screen. The responses can be downloaded into an Excel file, used in a word cloud, or scrolled through on the poll everywhere site.
For my lesson, I shared George Ella Lyon’s original “Where I’m From” poem as well as a template that pointed out pieces of the poem such as phrases, everyday items, foods, etc. Then, students thought of lines that might be in their own poems and shared them with partners or with the whole group. We moved into reading White Water by Michael S. Bandy & Eric Stein; illustrated by Shadra Strickland. This book details an African American boy’s curiosity with what it might be like to drink water from the “whites only” fountain during segregation. All along the way, we paused and thought about possible lines that the main character in the story might write in his own “Where I’m From” poem.
Students then moved to computers where I had the Poll Everywhere site pulled up with the question “My line in our where I’m from poem is…”. Each student thought of one line for the poem. The teacher and I conferenced with students about their lines to look for spelling and repetition, and then each student submitted their response. We reconvened in front of the smart board to read our poem, which was already waiting for us on the screen. Finally, we took the words of our poem and pasted them into Tagxedo to make another version of our collaborative poem as well as to look for the words that we used the most and least.
There are numerous uses for Poll Everywhere, but I loved the fact that it could support a collaborative writing effort with a class. The whole process took us less than 45 minutes to complete.
Here is a final poem from a 2nd grade class:
Where I’m From: A Response Poem to the book White Water by Michael S. Bandy & Eric Stein; illustrated by Shadra Strickland
Mrs. Brink’s Class
I am from I know everything from tricking my grandma. from White Water at a water fountain in town. from 6 blocks away from the bus stop. I’m from drinking out of a colored water fountain. from telling a lie to the bus driver. from I can do anything from drinking lots of water because fresh water is good. I AM FROM I’m from not being able to drink the white water from pretending to be sick. from that good ol’ time of riding the bus to town, waiting to drink water. from boy you better not do that I’m from white people sitting in the front seat from going to town with my grandma from trying to get white water because I thought it was fresh and cool. from nasty muddy gritty yuck! from I can do anything I’m from I’m from a water fountain I’m from I can do anything
David C. Barrow Elementary