A Guest Author Inspires Students to Express Themselves By Writting"I Am" Poems

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SWBAT identify and interpret themes and word choice by giving supporting evidence from poems read and written. SWBAT write poetry about their own life experiences by writing " I" poems.

Big Idea

How to inspire urban students to write meaningful "I Am" poetry.


15 minutes

At the beginning of the lesson I introduce Dennis Jackson, the author of I Am Just A Man.  I explain that he is also a high school guidance counselor and leads basketball/academic camps for underprivileged youth.  I also explain that the book is a compilation of poems written by teenagers who many have had similar life circumstances as my students.

The guest speaker then begins by asking the question, "How many people have had the experience of feeling alone or misunderstood?" Author and Activator.  He facilitates a short discussion as I circulate among the students encouraging participation in the discussion SL.9-10.1.

As a warm up exercise, students are then asked to complete the sentence starter "I am from..." in their journals W.9-10.10.  I circulate among the students keeping them focused on the task by redirecting and encouraging participating.  A brief sharing out of statements follow the writing exercise.

Prior to this lesson, I sat with my guest speaker and discussed the lesson's objective Guest Speakers.  

Building Knowledge

15 minutes

The guest speaker gives a brief background of the book on poetry "I Am Just A Man." Mr. Jackson's book is only available through direct email.  If your interested in purchasing it please let me know and I'll send you the necessary information. He explains that this lesson's writing project will help students to express themselves through poetry not unlike the poets they have been studying and reading in class.  I explain that poets such as Langston Hughes were prolific writers but that they didn't just wake up one day writing poems life A Dream Deferred.  I explain that he had to begin writing his thoughts and feelings on paper not unlike many of them will be beginning during this lesson.

The guest speaker then reads several poems form his book that are written by teenagers with similar backgrounds as the students in my class.

He then gives each student a book and asks them to read a poem of their choice while determining central ideas of each poem RI.9-10.2 by asking them to pick out the words that support the poems message as well as evaluating the source of other teens experiences SL.9-10.2.  I assist in facilitating volunteers to read a poem out loud to the class.




Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Now we want to transition from reading meaningful poetry to writing poems relevant to their own lives W.9-10.10. To assist students with starting their poems they are given sentence starters in which they will select one to use for their first poem.  If they complete a poem before the end of the activity they can choose to write another poem using another sentence starter.

  • I am from...
  • Through my eyes...
  • I feel...

As students write their poems, student writing "I AM" poem, I circulate among them encouraging their expressive writing skills W.9-10.2.


Wrap Up

10 minutes

Group Share

As a wrap up activity I ask for volunteers to read their expressive poems out loud to the class . I explain the procedure for listening while the poems are read and how to respond after the poem is read which is the snapping of fingers! student reads poem.  I want to give my students an opportunity to shre their skills in writing something that is meaningful to them.