This project was heavily inspired by the book we read as a class called The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. In this book the main character was trying to find himself and where he belonged in society. We made many poems revolved around where we come from, what home is, the unspoken rules of different subjects, and other topics contained in the book. The end result was to perform one of the pieces we wrote at our exhibition.
The House on Mango Street Performances:
We were given a taste of the project when we performed short excerpts from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. We were put into groups of three or four, and asked to read the piece as a group, but also add in organic sound effects to it. For example, if the piece mentioned rain, we could turn on the sink. My group performed the chapter "Hairs". At the end of the day, we presented the chapters in order with sound. I really enjoyed listening to it, and also thought it was a great way to start off the year and meet new classmates.
In this activity, we were also put in assigned pairs from the other side of our team. We had 20 minutes each to get to know them better and find out as much information on them as possible to eventually create a poem about them; "I sing to you of...". This experience took me by surprise. I barely knew my partner before the conversation, and now we are friends.
"I sing to you" Poem drafts and Self Critique:
See my drafts HERE. I decided to change the layout of my
poem to be more original, so my poem is not called "I sing to you of Alex".
8th Grade critique session:
To better refine our partner poems, we took a trip over to the 8th grade wing for some critique. This was particularly difficult because even though I knew my poem was incomplete, I did not get any specific feedback. However, I did spend a lot of time giving critique, and hope my 8th grader took it. What struck me about this process is how different our feedback forms were. Our forms to receive notes were very open, and theirs were extremely to the point.
Throughout this project, we read the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. In this exercise, Dr. P read aloud a sentence from the book and we had to recreate it through tableaux; a frozen picture.
View my self portrait and poem written about me HERE. I chose to take a picture of my hugging my tap shoes because I am a tap dancer. The photo is actually inspired by a photo of another famous tapper, Gregory Hines. Find that photo HERE.
We read short articles about belonging, and how it connected to the book we read, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. My article was The Psychological Reasons Why an American Might Join ISIS.
Script and photos of Best Friends:
Read the script HERE. For our final performance, Marissa and I decided to create our own piece about our unique friendship. We wrote it describing how we met and how well we know each other. I did majority of the writing because Marissa was taking pictures, but she also gave many of the ideas. I loved writing a poem with one of my friends because the topic was something I really cared about. I hope we can do something like this in the future.
How would you answer this project’s essential question, “what tribes do you belong to?”. Has this answer changed since the beginning of the year?
- I think I belong to many tribes, but I have grown into many more "tribes" throughout this project and beginning of the year. I now belong to the tribes of poets, to the tribe of 10th graders and to the tribe of people who have read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
What did you learn about “writing for a client” that you want to remember in your next project?
- When "writing for a client", it's important to think about not only what you want in the piece, but also
what they want in their piece. Many people including me were uncomfortable with the topics written about them in their poems because they were more personal. Also, make sure the piece you are writing about is specific to them, not malleable to everyone.
What did you learn about descriptive writing that you want to remember about your next project?
- I learned that one of the main elements in descriptive writing is remembering to think about the fives senses; smell, touch, taste, sight, and sound. This is very important to make your words more realistic and reader feel more enthralled in your story.
What did you learn about collaboration that you want to remember in your next project?
- Collaboration isn't so hard if you actually collaborate. It was actually easier to collaborate with a close friend because we both are comfortable working together outside of school. We also know that the other will be pulling the same work load because we have trust.
What’s one moment from this project that you want to remember?
- I want to remember the actual performance itself because my poem actually made people laugh, and that was the intention and goal. Knowing I achieved that feels great. The feeling of accomplishment and completion was also very relieving.