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Grade 9 Identity Poetry Anthology

WHO AM I?: Identity Poetry Anthology Version 2.0 
Jaime Groeller and Ivy Waite- Grade 9 Humanities

Ivy and I are very excited to once again be team teaching grade 9 Humanities this year. We taught this curriculum in our first year together, went back down to grade 8 for our second, then looped back into grade 9 with the same students for the 2013-2014 school year. We went back to our year plan from our first time through grade 9, looked through the projects we created and adapted, and in doing so decided to begin the year once again with a poetry unit on “identity”, an important guiding concept in the grade 9 social studies curriculum. We love this project because it also allows us to meet some ELA objectives and have the students interact with poetry beyond merely “analyzing.” Armed with our detailed reflections from last time, we worked to adapt the activities and projects we used before to meet the needs of our current group of students, and also to improve upon certain aspects of the inquiry. The assignment sheet and graphic organizer look very similar to last time, but we did make some significant changes to how we approached this study, as well as the organization of the anthology itself.

The Documents:
Poetic Device Reflection (self assessment)

The biggest change we made to this unit was the rubric. The previous rubric was much too comprehensive, and we have learned a lot about effective and efficient assessment over the last two years together that we were able to streamline the rubric for this version of the project. Furthermore, we did not “give” the rubric to the students this time around; instead, we provided them with mini-lessons and guidance on the process of creating their anthology, allowing for multiple opportunities for questions, conversations, and formative feedback. We then had a conversation near the middle of the project about what they thought should be assessed based on the learning and exploration that was happening. Students were easily able to identify what should be, and would be, assessed. Individual check-ins during which we sat down for a few minutes with each student along the way also contributed to this understanding of expectations.

As always, the power of the project was most obvious in the words of the students themselves. Their written poems often blew us away, and we caught glimpses of aspects of our students that we might never have seen. Their reflections on the project were also intriguing, and almost every student included at least one enduring understanding about the power of poetry to communicate deeply.

As part of our reflection on the project, we asked the students: “What are 3 enduring understandings you will take away from this project?” Their answers were illuminating.
“I learned the difference between different literary terms, I realized new ways to write about my identity (writing a quick thing about who I think I am, and just looking at that, sometimes its just even doodles) and realizing that it takes more time to review and make better, than it does to actually make.”
“1. Your identity is more about your likes and dislikes, but how those likes and dislikes affect you.2. Quality is not only important, but can create a tone that a reader can instantly like or dislike. 3. A poem may have a certain face value, but its meaning and literary elements count more.”
“Writing poems isn’t that bad and it can be quite fun to make random ones on the go.Collaborating with peers can be very helpful when you don’t understand what to do.Always plan ahead.”
“- Go deeper in your thoughts (explore why and how)
- Use literary elements to help analyze work
- Connecting literature to your identity”

“-It’s fun to make poems for fun
-to make orange using RGB is a mixture of red and green
-You can write on paths in photoshop”

- Literary elements.
- Forms of poetry.
- How much words can really speak to you at a personal level.
“1. Always try and hit for the Goldilocks zone2. Focus on creating a meaningful piece that is both short and concise3. Poetry takes along time to write because of the emotion and thought you have to pour into it”
“Understanding of my identity Being able to dig deeper in poems Being able to find and identify poetic elements and incorporate them in my writing”
“I guess I did learn a lot about myself in this project so one will be connecting writing to myself, so whenever I’m reading per say a book, I could connect it more to myself. That would be the first one. The second one would be learning to understand poetry. I think this could be important so that I can better understand poetry. I can point at a poem and say “oh it’s a sonnet,” which I think is a pretty cool skill to have. The third understanding is surprisingly how much names matter. I didn’t really understand about the deepness of names before the vignette assignment.”
“1: What a theme truly is2: How identity is a much bigger topic than it seems3: How beautiful poetry can be, and also how much it can mean to some people.”
“how to make a poem how to read a poem how to dig into my identity”
“I learned a lot about myself that I did not know initially: After thinking and analyzing about how the poems I created and chose linked to my deeper identity, I realized that identity does not really have any borders. Nearly everything about an individual can be identified by understanding their identity and almost everything affects identity, therefore it is a very broad topic.”
Within this sampling of our students’ responses to this question is the beauty of inquiry-based learning: the variation amongst the responses, what was meaningful and memorable for each student, is individualized and so different, but all responses are valid and aligned with our outcomes. Because of this, with a few modifications, we will definitely do this project again!

We invite you to explore some exemplars of our students' work! You will see that we challenged the students to communicate with words, as well as visuals. Many chose to create their own images by drawing or using digital tools such as Photoshop or Illustrator, while others used their own photographs. Others searched the internet for images that would help them communicate even more than just through their poetry.



Garry McKinnon said...

Jaime and Ivy; through your blog you very effectively highlight the efficacy of: working with the same group of students for two consecutive years through looping; integrating learning experiences and addressing curricular learning outcomes in social studies and English language arts through the humanities and collaborating as a teaching team. Links to the documents you used will be appreciated by teachers who wish to build on your experiences. As you observe with reference to reflections and feedback from your students and student exemplars relating to the experience of describing personal identity through poetry, your students were highly and authentically engaged in the process. The comments from the students are most interesting and informative and the student poetry anthology exemplars are very impressive.

Miss Groeller said...

Thanks Garry. We love having the opportunity to try something again and make it work even better!

Scott Petronech said...

Jaime and Ivy,

I am so glad that you shared this project with others. I have been thoroughly impressed with the engagement your students have displayed throughout this unit. It speaks to your own enthusiasm, creativity, and support of student voice. The quality of student work and the metacognition they displayed is awe inspiring.

I also feel that the relationships you have fostered with your students has also led to the success they are experiencing. Having the same students for a second straight year allowed you to 'hit the ground running' as trust and individual learning strategies had already been established.

I wish I had had the opportunity to be a humanities student in your classes. Not only are the assignments interesting, but they are at a depth that allows students to understand concepts at a much deeper level.

Unknown said...

Thank you very much Scott. As we said in the post, the feedback from students about the experience throughout this project was fantastic. We look forward to working through this process again!

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