Tech Research Reports 2006–Dwyer

2006 Tech Research Reports
Cyndi Dwyer

Southwest High School, Lincoln, Nebraska

"Where They Come From Poems"
American Literature/composition Project


I began the second semester or fourth term American Lit/Comp class which consists of mostly juniors and a few seniors with the notion of immigration. We had several class discussions on what immigration looked like during the 1800s and immigration today. We read Willa Cather's My Antonia and several chapters from Mary Pipher's In the Middle of Everywhere which helped contribute to these discussions. Students were also introduced to "Where I Come From Poems," and I shared several examples with them.

Students were then asked to write their own "Where They Come From Poems." As a class student writers shared these with their writing groups and received feedback from the groups. Then students took the poems through a revision process. After this process, students posted their poems to the Nebraska Writing Project Forum to get more feed back from the entire group of sixty students.

We then put the poems away for awhile and continued on with Willa Cather and Mary Pipher. As part of this continuation, students got to take a field trip to visit Willa Cather's home town of Red Cloud, Nebraska to learn where Willa Cather came from.

While students had been reading the book My Antonia about a pioneering immigrant family that moved to the Midwest, we had discussed immigration, pioneers, and the Midwest. Students then needed to put this all information all together. Students needed to choose a family member--grandparents or a earlier generation.

They did do some research about this person, his/her home country and found a photo. Then imagined they were this person and wrote a letter home to their cousin, also an immigrant, persuading him/her to also move west. Then students created an epitaph for his/her person. They also did research on his/her heritage and found a recipe to share that incorporates their heritage. Students shared this information with the class in a mini presentation.

Following this activity we revisited our "Where We Come From Poems" and then used a program called Comic Life which allowed us to essentially create a comic book of the poem. Students brought pictures from home or used ones from the internet to create a more personal poem.

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