Saturday, November 23, 2013

Remembering Where We Come From

I am from books
From Chicken-of-the Sea Tuna and Comet
I am from the simple and comfortable home
Full of dusted antiques
It smelled like casseroles
I am from the corn growing in the garden and the wheat fields
The dandelions and zinnias

I am from holding hands while we prayed and not talking back
From Gene and Mary and Ida
I am from the Winnie the Pooh bedtime stories, church potlucks, trips in the car
From "Keep your elbows off the table" and "If you can't something nice, don't say anything at all."

I am from the Mennonites and the father who became Catholic
I am from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Germany
From homemade bread and applesauce
from the mother who never learned how to milk cows because her father wanted her to go to college
From the car rolling down the street when I pulled the emergency brake and my dad running after the car, jumping in and saving me
I am from acres of love and mountains of great books.

I shared this poem, that I had written with the help of the "Where I'm From" template, with my students in preparation for reading To Kill A Mockingbird. My intention was to help them see that stories, like their authors, come from somewhere. So, I gave my students a template that I found with a Google search.  The template is based on the poem by George Ella Lyon. As I presented this assignment, several of the students groaned as I expected they might and some claimed they didn't have traditions or family sayings or familiar products in their home. I walked around, gave them encouragement and some more examples and the ideas seemed to start flowing. I loved their finished products.

Here are some excerpts from their writing:

"I am from the 2000's, from Coca Cola and Captain Crunch.
I am from "eat your corn" and "don't throw a fit."
I am from two homes but one big family."

"I am from Uggs, Starbucks and iPhone.
I am from the rose flower, the red rose, so smell the roses- you only live once."
I am from "Have you brushed your teeth?" and "Don't let the bed bugs bite!"
I am from the Catholic faith- the Holy Trinity."

"I am from the dance rehearsals and freckles on brown skin.
From Grandma Re and Grandma Sassy.
From devoted Catholics and open-minded Methodists.
I'm from Kansas and Mexico,
tacos and rice.
In the numerous boxes, waiting to be scrapbooked, are pictures from my life.
I am from the family who taught me to be myself, and to always have a good book."

"I am from Wichita, Kansas
where it is flat and boring and it is quiet.
I am the seed of the sunflower.
"You're still my baby" says my mom forever and ever."

"I am from the crazy house, crowded and noisy.
It sounds like a zoo sometimes.
From "eat over your plate" and "don't hit people."
I am from Egypt
From grape leaves and hummus.
From the family with lots of cooking talent."

" I am from chopsticks and Pho.
From "Work hard to have a better life" and "Be responsible"
From Catholics and the Golden Rule.
From what my mom sacrificed.
I am a group of atoms that was formed into an intelligent life form and transported from Vietnam."

"I am from the home with high ceilings and endless stairs
Large and Warm
It felt like a warm cup of tea on a cold day
I am from the roses twisting in the bushes
the fresh mowed grass staining the driveway."

I think these are beautiful!


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