Puma Poetry Slam – fruits of Ethnic Studies in elementary school

Concord International Elementary School (CIES) is situated in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle, WA. South Park is home to the largest group of Spanish speaking people in the city, which is one reason CIES was chosen as a dual language immersion school. Students have the opportunity to learn core subjects like math and literacy in Spanish.

Over the summer, the entire staff of CIES completed the WAESN professional development (PD) series. One educator, who had completed the series on her own prior to the school-wide PD, was already incorporating her learning from the WAESN PD into her plans for the 2021/22 school year. Carly Groszhans also completed PD with the Xicanx Institute for Teaching and Organizing (XITO), which focuses on Indigenous Mexican epistemology. Below are the poems students created using concepts from WAESN’s K-5 Ethnic Studies Framework and the PD from XITO.

I was honored to be invited and watch the students perform their pieces. The community that existed among the students was apparent. The students congratulated one another, gave each other appreciations for supporting one another, and were very expressive about the piece of poetry that most influenced their work, Oral Traditions. In fact, one of the authors of the piece, William Nu’utupu Giles, was in attendence, and the students were over the moon about that!

Next month’s blog post will be an interview with Carly about her process, including how she incorporated her learning and her thoughts on Ethnic Studies in grades K-5. It will include the rubric Carly made for students to self-assess their work! In the meantime, please check out the resources and professional development provided on translanguaging and language acquisition offered by Acosta Educational Partnership.

I did my best to accurately type the text next to the image, but some languages I’m not familiar with. Please let me know in the comments if I need to change anything!


My family is like going to the store. My language is like a tree. In the mirror I see me happy. From that I feel calm. Cuando hablo mis palabras son arboles suenan como mi corazon. Mi verbo es corriendo. Me siento feliz. I am a kid. Yo soy valiente. My strength is running. Mi poder es soy fuerte.


My family is like fire. My language is like a big culture. In the mirror I see a park. From that I feel calm. Cuando hablo mis palabras son estrellas sueno como truenos. Verbo amabilidad. Me siento feliz. I am a boy. Yo soy kind. My strength is doing. Mi poder is kindness.


My family is like a breeze. In the mirror I see a star in the sunshine as I fly through the clouds. From that I feel confident. I am enough. Yo soy powerful. My strength is all. Mi poder es myself suenan como tough. My language is a wave . . .


I’m Cambodian – also known as Asian. I would like pho on a Friday morning with socks on my feet. While my grandma was in the war screaming in fear, she was screaming for help but she was crying, running away from the people she called bombers. They tried to take her culture away. While she was running she saw her husband. He was scared to death. While she was with her husband she found her mom. She was running. She heard the bombs. Once she arrived to Seattle, she was scared but she knew how to stand up for herself. A couple years later she had a house and kids. She was happy again! One day while she was at the bank a white lady behind her said, “Go back where you came from!” She stood up for herself and said, “I can’t. You bombed where I came from!” And that’s why I’m proud to be Cambodian.

My eyes are like the dragons breathing out tacos. My words are like dragon tacos. My culture is like dragon soup. My soul is like raining kids eating yummy tacos. My world is like dragons. Now see you later alligator.


My family is like the stars. My language is like the trees. In the mirror I see fire. From that I feel good. Cuando hablo mis palabras como aquila suenan como fuego silencia. Mi siento como hielo. I am big. Yo soy como el delfin. My strength is like buffalo. Mi poder es como el leon.


My family is like love. My language is mi cultura. In the mirror I see myself. From that I feel fuerte. Cuando hablo mis palabras son agua suenan como la lluvia. I run como una cheetah. Me siento grande. I am a shark. Yo soy un salmon. My strength is big. Mi poder es como una oreja.


My family is like me. My language is like a wind. In the mirror I see the sun. From that I feel happy. Cuando hablo mis palabras son grandes suenan como un tigre. Verbo cantando. Me siento feliz. I am different. Yo soy diferente. My strength is happy. Mi poder es sonrisas.


My family is like an adventure. In the mirror I see a game. From that I feel good. I am water. My strength is food.


My family is like a 1001000 tacos. My language is like a 1,000 tacos. In the mirror I see tacos. From that I feel joyful. Hablo mis palabras son mis palabras. Me siento calma. I am a taco. Yo soy tacos. My strength is cool. Mi poder es pigs because I like pigs. The end.


My family is my culture. My family is my strength. My family is like me. My family is me in the mirror. I see myself. From that I feel me. Cuando hablo mis palabras son español and English suenan como amor. I’m like a guinea pig. Me siento happy. I am a guinea pig. Yo soy me. My strength is me. Mi poder es everything.


When I run through the fields I feel my heart pounding like a drum. When I get home I still feel it. I feel the rhythm. I can’t help myself. I start moving my legs. In my head I hear a voice. It says, “Let it out! Let it out. Let it out.” Dance like no one is watching. Don’t feel embarrassed. Even if you are going through a hard time it’ll make you feel better. Break the chains that are keeping the emotions that are locked inside. Let it out. Be free as a bird. Campos guallavas al rancho de tata los pagaros cantan. Nana y tata la granja de vacas el frio viene. Las nubes ya vienen es el otoño ya hay nuevos colores. El color del sol esta por la casa. Los animales se miran como maiz. Listos para ser palomitas y dormir como la bella dormiente. Las nubes cain se hace blanco. En la mañana te leventes con el sol en tu caro. Thank you. Gracias.

Wren + Taya

Latkes so savory they make me want to cry. I love to dip them in applesauce so let me take you for a ride to my side of town. Shalom is what I say. Shalom is how I feel. So to you I say Shalom. Shalom means peace or hello in Hebrew. Hanukah also known as festival of lights is the miracle of oil lasting 8 days and that is why there are 8 candles on the menorah. Latkes are like hash browns with veggies in them. Latkes are like a hash brown cooked in oil. Passover is like a holiday that celebrates people that have died because they were slaves. We are going to talk about holidays like Passover.


My family is like a star burning through my past and mistakes. My language is like music and no one can silence it. In the mirror I see a girl born to make mistakes and that is good. From that I feel like me. When you talk it is like music to my ears. I dream to be generous. I feel calm. I am me. Soy yo. My strength is pain. Mi poder es daño.


A manatee with no natural enemies. Calmer than the calmest sea. I wish we could all be like manatees.


My family is like chicken nuggets and fries. My language is like an identity. In the mirror I see myself and my grandpa. From that I feel sad. Cuando hablo mis palabras son mi identidad suenan como tiburon. Bailo como un mono. Me siento feliz. I am a boy. Yo soy un niño. My strength is a sharks teeth. Mi poder es dientes de tiburon.


My language is my life. If my language is gone my life too then. So fine. The key to get me out of the ocean with the black bears.


My family is like power. My language is like a rain. In the mirror I see my language. From that I feel calm. Cuando hablo mis palabras son safe suena como tormenta corro como agua. Me siento feliz. I am fire. Yo soy un relampago. My strength is powerful. Mi poder es el sol.


My name is Nasreen. I was born in 2012. In my family I was the first girl to walk, but the food I eat is buur and I speak Somali too. I love myself and my family too. The end.

My life is a xiddiga. My qoyska a wadnaha. My friends are the ugufilcan. My heart loves me but when I get mad I can down. I love myself as my heart pumps. I love myself more. The end.


My words hide like stolen talk. My words act new, as though I never learned this language. My words are for everyone. My words are strong.

Mis palabras son de diferentes lenguajes. Mis palabras son mis palabras. Mos palabras son solamentes saltando. Mis palabras son historia.

My words are mine. Mis palabras son mios. I will learn other languages. Yo aprendi otros lenguajes.


Feel the breeze blowing in your hair. Feel the light shining a new hope. Feel the freedom like you just got out of a cage. Feel the hate washing away. Feel you coming from the tide. Feel your spirit in your veins. Feel your life coming to an end and a new story is born. Feel your culture spreading like the roots of a tree. Feel your heart pounding as loud as a drum. Feel your words as strong as stone. You will always be there to keep the Indigenous high in the sky.


My culture is big. My words are big. Black people are important. We aren’t dangerous. We have to stop this. This isn’t funny. Black people are dying. Are you laughing now? If you still think this is a joke, just wow. How could you laugh at a time like this? This is racism in action. How could it be funny that policemen are killing instead of saving? Why? Just tell me why people are being racist? Do they think this is fun? Fun is hanging out with the people you love or taking a walk in the park with your friends, not being racist.I am not judging off what I hear. I am judging off of experience from my dark skinned best friend.


My family is like a tree, it grows through my mistakes, my hopes and my joys. My language is like music, so powerful it can’t be silenced! That makes me feel strong. People might fight against your culture but it doesn’t mean you can’t fight back! Just because I’m white doesn’t mean I can’t fight for the Black, Latinx, Cuban, Indigenous and the world!

Each petal of your identity is a hidden power. Those petals will start to create your flower! Your flower will bloom with strengths and beauty, and may make you feel joyful or moody. Your identity will grow throughout your heart, and will reveal many different parts that make you who you are!


Did u know that the world we’re on is taken? U need to appreciate what they have done for you cus there are so many people that don’t appreciate what their ancestors have given them. Some people don’t like who they are but little do they know they’re perfect the way they are. U don’t need to change who you are. All people matter. All languages matter. Please stop racism. Stop this nonsense. I’m not trying to be mean but u guys are stupider than jupeder for what u have done and now look. U got what u wanted. What else do u want? Please. I look like I’m ok but I’m hurting inside. It hurts so much I just wanna break free but I just can’t.


You don’t know what’s going on. Languages locked away not spoken of much. All you want is to pelear pelear pelear que no te derrotar en la pelea del racismo. The path to victory is poetry. Poetry is like a forest and racism is like a forest fire trying to burn it down. Our words are seeds that grow and rain is language.


My family is like a miracle. My language is like a gift. In the mirror I see my face. From that I feel happy. Cuando hablo mis palabras son magicas suenan como algo diferente. Mi verbo es leer como un perezoso. I am creative. Yo soy poderoso. My strength is language. Mi poder es languaje. El fin. The end.


My soul is the soul of the American flag blowing in the air as it rises. My soul is the soul as my heart seeks friendship from deep below. My soul is the soul of family generations from generations. My language is English but I still speak two. Spanish is one I’m still learning to. My heart pounds when I speak to you. It won’t stop until my life’s through. I speak my words and I won’t stop. I’m saying this for the Indigenous who couldn’t talk. I want to join the resistance. Their words matter. Mine too but whose words matter more? Me or you? I feel like there is a safe of identity locked away that I can’t find. The key keeps moving and these are the thoughts of a mixed girl every day. Although I can ask you really don’t know me. I like to say there is a story behind each person and don’t judge till you’ve been in their shoes.

Daphne + Wren

I feel a hope. A light as I dive into a new day. I see a new me. A better me as I jump through the door.


As the wind blows it gets colder and colder. Soon it’s as cold as winter. As the sun rises it’s getting warmer and warmer. Soon it’s as warm as a fire. De réir mar a shëtdeann an ghaoth. Éiríonn se níos fuaire abus nios fuaire go luath tá sé chomh. Fuar leis an ghein hreadn. De réir mar a éiríonh an ghrian éiríonh se níos teo agus níos teo. Go lauth tá sé chomh te le tine.

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