The Five Minute Poem

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This activity has students spend five minutes writing a brief four-stanza poem about where they are from. The poems can be shared in the large group as students introduce themselves to the class, in pairs or small groups, or could be posted to a class blog or forum. This activity can also be used as a prompt for a discussion about how where students come from impacts them in the classroom.


  • To prompt students to reflect on where they come from and how their homes (figurative or literal) impact their classroom/university experience or their experience in their new home.
  • To encourage students to recognize and respect where their peers come from.


The Instructor should give students the guide for writing the poems (included below). The guide gives a format to follow for writing each line. It may also be beneficial for the instructor to share their own poem both as an example and as a mutual show of creative and personal vulnerability


Students may feel uneasy sharing personal creative work or may be resistant to writing a poem. Instructors should stress that the aim of the exercise is not to write a “good” poem, but to share personal impressions of where they are from.

The Five-Minute Poem Activity

(courtesy of Beverly Tatum)

Four Stanzas

Each Stanza Has Four Lines

Each Stanza Begins – “I am from…”

     First Stanza: (Familiar sights, sounds, or smells of your neighborhood)

     Second Stanza: (Familiar Foods)

     Third Stanza: (Family Sayings)

     Fourth Stanza: (Friends)

My Poem

     Stanza #1 – I am from…

     Stanza #2 – I am from…

     Stanza #3 – I am from…

     Stanza #4 – I am from…


Activity developed by Doctor Beverly Tatum.