My students turned in the most beautiful and complex “Where I’m From” poems as a prewriting assignment for their Signature Stories. The “Where I’m From” poem, first popularized by George Ella Lyon, follows a specific template you can find at the bottom of this post.
In one of the lines, students write down something they were told all the time as a child. I read everything from “Be aware of your surroundings” to “Suck it up” to “I love you to the moon and back.” I read “You might lie to others but never lie to yourself,” “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” and “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.”
I begin to wonder what phrases I say most of all in my house that my children would carry with them into adulthood. What do they feel like I’m always telling them?
So I ask my teenager.
“What expressions do you hear me say most of all in this house?”
Without even a bit of hesitation, she listed out these:
“Do you have homework?”
“You’ll thank me later.”
“Every rejection is God’s protection.”
And, finally, “Everything has a home.”
I was glad God was in there somewhere, but I was sad that she didn’t say, “I love you,” or “I want to spend time with you,” or “You are the most incredible, beautiful daughter in the whole world.”
I’m glad I asked this question, and I’m making a few changes to the words I say around here.
The WHERE I’M FROM Template
I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.
I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).
I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)
I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).
I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).
From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).
I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.
I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).
From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).
I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).