I See My Imagination

Using Artifacts to Inspire Poetry

This year, the sixth graders in Mary Agramonte’s art class studied mask making. They explored a variety of masks from ancient and modern cultures, including those of Japan, Central and South America, and the native peoples of North America. Then, drawing on these models and their own cultural backgrounds, students created masks that reflected their own unique heritage and family story.

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One component of this learning experience was a trip to the American Museum of Natural History and the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians. Here, among other artifacts of the Pacific Northwest native peoples, students studied masks used for festivities, religious ceremonies, coming of age celebrations, and other rites of passage. They imagined who might have created these masks, how they were used, and what the lives of the people who wore them might have been. They took time to draw their favorite masks and note what materials went into making each one. Many of the masks used natural elements like bark and shells and represented animals native to the Pacific Northwest.

Back in the classroom, students reflected on the exercises they’d completed, the poetry we’d read, and the art they’d observed and began crafting poetry of their own. They asked questions, both about their own work and the work of others, and they engaged in peer editing and revision. Some students wrote poems inspired by something they’d seen on their field trip, and some wrote poems that reflected on the masks they’d made. Because P.S. 218 is a dual language school, students were free to write either in Spanish, in English, or in both languages. The result is a dynamic blend of languages, cultures, and mediums of expressions. I hope you enjoy the creative mix of written and visual art in the pages to come.

Samantha Facciolo


I see my imagination
by Jarely (6th grade)

I see shadows in the wall, laughing at me
while I cry.

I see a girl looking through my soul, black
as her hair.

I hear someone calling my name it is fading

I realized that everything I saw
was my imagination.

Veo mi imaginación

Yo veo sombras en el pared, riendo de mi
mientras yo lloro.

Yo veo a una niña mirando a través de mi
alma negra.

Escucho alguien que dice mi nombre se esta

Mi de cuenta de que todo lo que veía era
mi imaginación.

Teachers & Writers Magazine is published by Teachers & Writers Collaborative as a resource for teaching the art of writing to people of all ages. The online magazine presents a wide range of ideas and approaches, as well as lively explorations of T&W’s mission to celebrate the imagination and create greater equity in and through the literary arts.