Last week I shared an end of the year writing activity with sixth graders who will “graduate” from our school soon and move on to middle school. The mentor text was Ralph Fletcher’s poem “The Good Old Days.” We wrote about “Good Old School Days.” They created a collection of poems ranging from sentimental to funny to a little sad. On the day we wrote, our newcomer ELL, from El Salvador, was absent. I had the opportunity to work with one to one when she came back. She read the poem independently and circled words and phrases she wasn’t sure of. Going back and forth in English and Spanish, we talked about the poem until she understood it. Then I gave her a writing frame to help her write her own poem. She chose to write about her first at our school. English was mostly forgotten as she told her story. She said that first day she wanted to sneak away from her desk, open the window, and run away. All she could think was “What does that mean?” She said she felt “raro”- rare, odd, strange- so different from everyone. For me, that time shared with her was “raro”- extraordinary, exceptional, privileged- moments I will always remember and treasure.

Here is her poem…

The First Day of School

Sometimes I remember
My first day at Ernie Pyle Elementary School

I felt so confused
I wanted to open the window and escape

And never come back
But go home to El Salvador

I was always thinking
“What does that mean?”

I felt so different from my classmates but
Now I don’t want to escape from the window any more

Then I could not imagine
How the future would be

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2 Responses to Raro

  1. cvarsalona says:

    Diane, your student’s poem is so telling. I am impressed with her ability to share her thoughts so well. Do you think she would like to offer her poem with a drawing of some sort or a collage for my spring gallery, “Spring Splendor.” The splendor of this story is that your student was using mentor text to share her feelings. Let me know what you think.

  2. arjeha says:

    The turn around at the end of the poem shows how a caring and nurturing environment is important for students.

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