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The “I Am” Challenge: Olympics/Paralympics

In honor of the Olympic/Paralympic season, we encourage you to assign an “I Am” poem to your students. In her article in AME Magazine titled, “One Text—Many Perspectives,” educator Lesley Roessing explains that an “I Am” poem is a creative way to get students to delve deeper into a topic by standing in the shoes of another.

Here’s how it works:

First, engage your students in any topic, such as the Olympics/Paralympics. Then, encourage them to consider the topic from a variety of perspectives, e.g. an athlete, coach, or spectator. What unique point of view might each person bring to the topic? Imagine the thoughts that might run through the head of an athlete as he competes in his event, for example. How might a coach feel as she watches her athlete compete at the highest level? Add another layer of complexity to the assignment by encouraging students to research an unfamiliar Olympic/Paralympic event and incorporate that information into their poems. What descriptive details might be included in a poem about a table tennis or goalball competitor? How about a gymnast? Finally, have students complete each prompt in the “I Am” poem format, using information from their own background knowledge and new information from research.

Use the example provided to help your students get their creative juices flowing. This activity is a fun, positive way to start the school year.

I am a track and field athlete and Olympic/Paralympic hopeful.

I wonder how it would feel to stand on the podium in red, white and blue; a gold medal around my neck.

I hear the naysayers warn that the odds are stacked against me.

I see myself running a victory lap, the American flag draped over my back.

I want to be an example for all the underdogs of the world.

I am a go-getter who won’t stop until I have accomplished my goal.

I pretend to fly as the wind whips by me on the track.

I touch my hand over my heart; the national anthem plays in my ear.

I worry, sometimes, that I am not fast enough.

I cry when my muscles burn from the constant grind.

I am determined, still.

I understand that the only way to make it is through hard work and never giving up.

I say thank you to all my family and friends who cheer me on from the stands.

I dream of making everyone proud.

I try to outpace the competition.

I hope, like all the great ones, to see my face on a WheatiesTM box someday.

I am going to get there.

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