“Orchestrating from the Outside”

I have always wanted to write an I Am poem. In the past few years, I have seen successful lessons where teachers use this as a writing activity. Often, the I Am poem is coupled with Georgia Ella Lyon’s poem, Where I’m From. Students feel safe writing about what they know; they know who they are, and they want to write to learn to know more about who they are. Last Monday, in my first time co-teaching the evening class entitled Teaching Composition, I tried my hand at writing one of these formulaic, yet open poems, and then further experimented with sharing a Google document with the world. I AM learning with my students, and as Penny Kittle advises in Write Beside Them– You can’t just give teacher assignments “while you grade or take attendance. You’re either in the midst of composing with kids, or you’re trying to orchestrate from the outside.” She also adds that the first has been successful for her, but the latter, not so much.


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