A bio-poem is an 11-line poem that describes a person. In the standard bio-poem structure an individual is described largely through his or her experiences, hopes, and accomplishments rather than by basic characteristics such as gender, height, age, and race. In this lesson, students write a bio-poem describing themselves.
Curriculum connection: Students can write bio-poems for historical figures based on individual research or class material. For example, ask students to write a bio-poem for Queen Hatshepsut, Charlemagne, or Marco Polo.
Before introducing the bio-poem activity, ask students to write a list of the types of factors or characteristics they used to describe themselves on their identity charts. See if any of them mention hopes, personal experiences, or accomplishments. If not, ask students to identify an example of an experience that shaped how they answer the question, “Who am I?” Or you may want to refer back to the “My Name” reading. In this excerpt, Esperanza describes how her great-grandmother’s identity was shaped when she was “kidnapped” by Esperanza’s great-grandfather. Before this event she was “a wild, horse of a woman.” After she was married off to Esperanza’s great-grandfather, she became a sad woman who sat at a window much of the day.
When students have an initial understanding of the relationship between identity and personal experience, share with students the Bio-Poem teaching strategy procedure. In preparation for this class, we suggest you write your own bio-poem to share with the class as an example. You can also share this example.
Another way to structure this activity is to have students complete Step 1 of the Bio-Poem procedure and then hand their work to a partner. Students could use this information to write a bio-poem about their partner.