What is an i am Poem and how can it be used in the Classroom

“I am” poems are a great way for someone to get write about themselves. I think this is a great practice for students of all ages. Although poetry is mostly used as a teaching tool in English classes, “I am” poems can be used in high school psychology classes as well as health/wellness classes. In fact, poetry has been used in ESL and foreign language classrooms for some time now with positive results. Poetry often uses smaller phrases, although you run the risk of coming across archaic words and phrases when reading established works. But using poetry as a means of teaching certain verb tenses, use of phrases and idioms, or vocabulary is an excellent method to use.

There are several methods for creating an “I am” poem. You can really make it your own. One of the most common methods is to follow this formula:
I AM (two special characteristics)
I WONDER (something you are actually curious about)
I HEAR (an imaginary sound)
I SEE (an imaginary sight)
I WANT (an actual desire)
I AM (first line of poem repeated)
I PRETEND (something you pretend to do)
I FEEL (a feeling about something imaginary)
I TOUCH (an imaginary touch)
I WORRY (something that really bothers you)
I CRY (something that makes you very sad)
I AM (first line of poem repeated)
I UNDERSTAND (something you know is true)
I SAY (something you believe in)
I DREAM (something you actually dream about)
I TRY (something you make an effort to do)
I HOPE (something you actually hope for)
I AM (first line of poem repeated)
(to try this yourself, see http://ettcweb.lr.k12.nj.us/forms/iampoem.htm)

Another method that could be used as an alternative to the “I am” poem goes like this:
Just because I’m
Doesn’t mean
Doesn’t mean
And doesn’t mean
Just because
Doesn’t mean
Doesn’t mean
Doesn’t mean
Just because
Doesn’t mean
Doesn’t mean
Doesn’t mean
Just because
(Question)
(Question)
(Question)
(Statement)
(for more examples, see http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/portrait.html)

The best thing about “I am” poems is that it can and will change over time. I’m sure if you did an “I am” poem once a month over the course of a year, each one will be a little different. As you learn and grow and go through different experiences, your view on the world, your priorities, and goals will change. Writing and poetry is a living, breathing lifeform in itself. I also find that doing an “I am” poem is also an excellent way to brainstorm for ideas for writing, art, music, drama, or even science projects and research papers.