Recently Concept English was able to do a focused PD that focused on mimetic writing to build fluency for student writers and provide and opportunity for them to say things in new and different ways.  We borrowed the Sandra Cisneros poem called “Abuelita Who.”  We worked through four separate activities, pausing after each one to Think Aloud and connect the activities to the standards.  We used this poem and the activity within the confines of 8th grade, Unit 2, “The Bonds Between Us.” Ultimately, the brevity of many poems allows students to think about a complex idea like “the bonds between human beings” and “borrowing,” Cisneros’ allows students to discover new ways of seeing details put together.  The experts say, “this allows students to borrow the voice and style of a professional author,” until they find their own.  You also come to a new and different understanding of the life experience of our students.  Just ask these teachers who found unexpected emotions as evidenced by the box of Kleenex being passed around. 

Abuelito Who

Abuelito who throws coins like rain

and asks who loves him                    

who is dough and feathers

who is a watch and a glass of water

whose hair is made of fur

is too sad to come downstairs today

who tells me in Spanish you are my diamond

who tells me in English you are my sky

whose little eyes are string

can’t come out to play

sleeps in his little room all night and day

who used to laugh like the letter k

is sick

is a doorknob tied to a sour stick

is tired shut the door

doesn’t live here anymore

is hiding underneath the bed

who talks to me inside my head

is blankets spoons and big brown shoes

who snores up and down and up and down again

is the rain on the roof that falls like coins

asking who loves him

who loves him who?

Columbus Middle Schoolcolumbus


Aunt Jan who globs paint like cake icing

and asks for all my best stories

who is apricots on cottage cheese

who is an out-of-tune piano and 3-D cornfields

whose hair is made of silver ice

is too loud to contain middle America

who tells me I’m a stinky wood sprite

who tells me every movie is the best she’s ever seen…

~ Ms. Whitman

Grandma who throws words like soft rain

and asks who loves her

who is brownies and baked goods

who is an anchor holding the family together

whose hair is made of ash

is too stubborn to have things another way

who tells me

who tells me

whose desperate eyes are failing

can’t come out to play…

                                                                   ~ Mrs. Blackstone

Kimberly who welcomes friends like an open fire

and asks who loves her

who is a playful puppy

who is a Reeses peanut butter cup

whose face is heart-shaped

is too busy to take a nap today

who tells me in Chinese you are my peng you

who tells me in English you are my sister by choice

~ Ms. Cross

Grandma whose house smells like buckwheat pancakes and breakfast sausage

and asks if I want a fourth helping

who is butterscotch and cinnamon sugar

who is kitchen aprons and tube TV’s

is checking on me every night

who tells me to sit up straight and say please

who tells me she’s proud of me

whose house is filled with family pictures

can brighten your day

is healthy then not

~ Mr. Gauch

Mom who throws a fit like hot lava

and asks who can help her

who is blind

who is determined to give her opinion

whose hair is salt and pepper gray

is too stubborn to give up

who tells me to stay faithful and believe

who tells me there is a brighter day

whose ragged face embodies strength

can stand on 2 feet with a cane

after so many disappointments

who cherishes God day and night…

~ Ms. Golden-Cole

Quinn the Eskimo plays for joy

and loves girls, girls, girls

who is sequined punk

who is confident flash

whose hesitant wonder

is too stubborn and confused

who says life is amplified

whose musical act is all

can be domestic bliss

after the stage is dark

who is my first born

is affectionately distant

is a poser in a photo

is glitter loud

doesn’t need a mic

is feeling domestic

who wants a first born

is the confident, hesitant

asking about grown women

who loves girls, girls, girls

and plays for joy

                                                                  ~ Ms. Jansupka

HSA McKinley Park



Djed who eats pita quickly

and asks who loves him

who is clouds and snow

who is a cup of tea and sweatpants

whose hair is made of silver thread

is too sick to go for a walk today

who tells me in Bosnian you are my oldest grandchild and will succeed

who cannot tell me anything in English

whose moustache is scratchy but distinct

can’t go on his walk

sleeps but wheezes

who used to smile like the “u”

is sick

~ Ms. Selimovic

Francesco who throws basketballs and baseballs

and asks who loves him

who is candy and sugar

who is an Xbox and Legos

whose hair is made of grass

is too angry to come downstairs today

who tells me in Italian you are my protector

who tells me in English you are my world

whose blue eyes twinkle like stars

can’t come out to play

grounded in his room all night and day

who used to laugh like the letter h

is sick

who has scars on his chest

cannot do what the others do

doesn’t seem so sick anymore

is running faster than the others

who tells me that he is not scared

is clothes on the floor next to the hamper

is the proof that prayer heals

asking who loves him

who loves him who?

~ Ms. Crudele

Father who throws pillows like feathers

and asks who loves him

who is bricks and sage

who is hot chocolate and a book

whose hair is salt and pepper

is too tired for pillow fights today

who tells me in Spanish later we’ll be playing

who tells me in English “I love you too mush”

whose brown eyes are a soft hush

can go for a walk

after he’s taken his pills

who used to laugh like the letter h

is sick

is a table chair stuck in place

is sleeping close the blinds

doesn’t seem tired anymore

is running laps around the park

who talks to me inside my head

is summer, spring, and autumn too

asks who loves him

who loves him who?

~ Ms. Godinez

Samantha who asks very little of life

and floats through it like a jolly ghost

who is pixie stix sugar

who is never impressed

is always enthused like a baby

who loves bad movies

who is always glad to see me

whose cantankerous laughter is always required

can brighten anyone’s day

after breakfast, afternoon, afterschool

who I once laughed at when she was t

is of pure heart

is of stable mind

is without malice

doesn’t fear judgment

is working at my old job

who can seem like she is dense

who makes popcorn everyday

is a kernel herself who explodes with joy

asking always why not

who could not love her spirit?

~ Mr. Schmith

Ashland who throws kisses in a closing door

and asks why

who is Kit Kat bars and Hershey Kisses

who is silver velcro shoes and hair bows

whose hair is filled with bubbles in the tub

is curiosity and play

who tells me when she’s scared

who tells me when she’s ready

can explore the world

after mommy lets her go

who used to be attached to my hip

is growing up

is fairy dust dancing through the halls

is a frog splashing in puddles

doesn’t seem so little anymore

is building cities on the floor

who laughs from deep in her belly

who asks me to sleep next to her

is the sunshine through the trees

asking to go play

who makes everything better

~ Mrs. Killion

Fossil who shows up like dust from the ashes

and asks why do I wonder

who is quiet and still

who is all of my perseverance and my broken feelings

whose matrix blasts a glue to ground me

after feeling lost in fast paced life

who used to plague my mind like the F

is ok

is a desire that grabs at what life changes

is rested on my mother’s fireplace

doesn’t follow me anymore

is resting until opened again

whose wonder intrigues my intellectual desires

asks why I wonder

who loves it who?

~ Mr. Hunter

Dad who is the light in a dark night throws peanuts on the ground

and asks who loves him

who is oysters and tabasco

who is a suit and a glass of beer

whose hair is thick and strong

is too busy to come play today

who tells me in English that I am strong

who shows me that family is resilient

whose back is hurting

can’t come out to play

sleeps on the couch all night and day

who used to smile

is dying

is a nail stuck in the wood

is weak, falling down

doesn’t live with me anymore

is hiding in the corner or my mind

who continues to guide me in my head

is tea parties and vacant memories

who no longer recognizes me looking up and down

is deteriorating quickly as rain falls

asking who loves him

who loves him who

~ Ms. Urias

Emily who laughs like an old TV show

and asks who loves her

who is a crackling voice

who is a peach and midnight pizza

whose hair is made of tissue

who tells me at 18 we will get better

who tells me at 25 look where we are

whose brown eyes are the weight of a head on your shoulder

lives so far away

talks in my ear on the best nights and days

who used to cry like a hurricane

is happy

is a teacher voice, steady as a heartbeat

is almost here, open my door

doesn’t sound so heavy anymore

is somehow still on my college bed

we’re laughing in the dorm room inside my head

is green tea pillows and the color gold

who stumbles on the grass and spins round and round again

is the needed map on the drive home

asking, how about tomorrow?

wow about today?

~ Ms. Bernard

Grandma who throws Lefsa like Frisbees

and asks who loves her

who is jelly and peanut butter

who is an agate key chain and cup of coffee

whose hair is made hay

is too happy to stop laughing today

who tells me in Norwegian you are my treasure

who tells me in English you are my loyal grandchild

whose brown eyes are chocolate peanut butter balls

can come out to play

after the chores and animals are fed

who used to cry like the s

is healthy

is a wind chime hanging from a nearby tree

is rested opens the door

doesn’t seem so sad anymore

is ironing sheets next to the bed

who talks to me inside my head

who tends chickens’ chores and apron strings

is the Frisbee in the air that spins across her hands like Lefsa

asking who loves her

who loves her who?

~ Mr. Flaherty


Thank you teachers of HSA Columbus Middle School and HSA McKinley Park for being vulnerable enough to share these powerful people with us.

If you are interested in seeing the activity sheets we used for this writing and how we connected to the study of mythology and academic writing, just print the attachment.  If this sounds like something you would like to work on to improve your student writing, please request a curriculum webinar in SIS for help adapting the activities to your current curriculum.  MimeticWritingActivites