Who Are You? Who Do You Admire?


Spring often is a season we begin thinking about end of school year celebrations honoring students and colleagues, and summer events for family and friends.  One formula poem that elicits delight and gratitude is the simple acrostic.
This also makes for an engaging start of the year assignment to help get to know students right away.  Invite the students write about themselves or someone they admire in real life or in a book they have read. 

This is a form that has writers insert the honoree’s name in capital letters in a vertical column on the left side of the page.  Then, adding adjectives (words or phrases) that describe that person and begin with the letter on each line.  (For ease, insert a two-column table in a Word document, with one row for each letter in the honoree’s name.  Then insert letters of the name in left column and descriptors in the right column.)

But first, write an acrostic poem yourself and share it with your students.  It can be about you or someone you admire.  The assignment can be revived all year long as you study different texts and different topics.

Pause a moment; think about a colleague or student, family member or friend, whom you respect and appreciate.  What words come to mind that express qualities that you admire?  To come up with the words that fit your poem, you may find yourself switching out first thoughts for synonyms that express the emotions, abilities, and talents that begin with the letters you have to match.  It’s okay to repeat those qualities using different words. Repetition is a poetic device that reinforces the message.

Go ahead, write the name.  Consider your relationship with that person. What experiences have you shared?  What makes you want to honor that person?  What attitudes, behaviors, skills attract you to that honoree? At what upcoming event can you share this poem?

Here’s the acrostic poem my siblings and I wrote about our sister, Veronica Emerald, who celebrated a significant birthday this year. We generated ideas by exchanging emails, added chosen words to the Word table before inserting the table on a PowerPoint side set for 11 x 8 ½ , then added appropriate graphics, border and font changes, saved file in .pdf, finally printing on card stock.

Yes, our sister got teary when she read the birthday card. We learned recently that she framed the poem and hung it on the wall, despite the fact that we hadn’t edited carefully to maintain consistency using only adjectives.

In fact, this could be a way to distinguish grades on the assignment by requiring use of specific parts of speech: one noun for each letter, one or two adjectives, and/or one adjective phrase in the same order throughout. Or, the assignment could include specification that at least three words from class vocabulary list be included in acrostic poem about the honoree or chosen literary character.

A couple ways to adapt this assignment for students is to invite them to craft an acrostic poem about a person in their lives.  With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming in the next two months, some students may decide to write their poem about a parent, or someone is like a mother or father to them.

As an option for a poetry notebook, or to summarize their reading, invite singles, pairs or small groups, to write about a favorite character from readings you shared as a class, in books they read on their own, or even someone in the news that the students admire. Great way to review parts of speech, practice using thesaurus or synonym feature in word processing programs and incorporating word from class vocabulary lists into a poem about a family or friend, classmate or character from literary work students have read.






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