Alternate Names for 6th graders

Fort their sixth week of poetry, Twain Elementary 6th graders explored ideas when it came to names and their meanings. Names give us a sense of identity, but names are powerful, they can also have positive and negative connotations depending on how they’re used.

Together we watched the 2015 spoken word performance directed by Theatre teacher Sentell Harper, featuring his young black male students performing an adaption of the poem “Alternate Names For Black Boys,” by Danez Smith. Spoken word poetry combines elements rhyme, rhythm, repetition, theatre, and storytelling.  Mr. Harper’s students used movement and gestures to express Smith’s 17 name choices to describe black boys.   The names that stood out for Twain 6th graders were:

5. guilty until proven dead

9. phoenix that forgets to un-ash,

14. brilliant, shadow hued coral

17. a mother’s joy & clutched breath.

Mr. Harper’s class then recites in the video the names of actual young black boys who were killed by gun racism and police brutality. Through these names Smith shows readers the harsh realities that black boys face growing up being targeted and their lives cut short because of the color of their skin.

Inspired by Danez Smith’s poetry, students wrote their own poems giving alternative names for people, places, animals, plants, and objects.



Mr. Burford’s 6th grade
Group 1

  Alternate Names for Chicken 
  By Emiliano C. 

1. Seed Eater
2. Farm Animal
3. Skinny legger
4. Crazy
5. Egg Giver
6. Cock- a – doodle- doo
7. Pollo
8. Food
9. KFC
10. Popeyes
11. Chick-fil-A
12. Jollibee
13. Rooster
14. Bob
15. Easy to kill
16. Feathered
17. Minecraft animal
18. Omnivore
19. Beef


Alternate names for pencil 
By Joshua G. 

  1. Sword fighting
  2. Stick
  3. Writer
  4. Quill
  5. Creator 
  6. Homework doer
  7. Doodler
  8. Knowledge giver


My Brother Is Mean
By Jovanny M. 

My brother is Mean: 

He’s rude 

Most of the time he’s annoying 

He’s always loud

He’s not cool at all

He acts gross all the time 

Every day he does weird things

He does crazy things 

He is lazy most of the time.



Mr. Burford’s 6th grade
Group 2


By Jose F. 

  1. The baby 
  2. Wannabe baby 
  3. Baby face maker
  4. Wannabe edger 
  5. Thinks he walks cool
  6. Wants to be tall
  7. The baby of the friend group
  8. The small one

*Jayson approve this 


Alternate Names for “Sleepyhead”
By Camila L. 

1.Lazy sloth

2.drowsy bug

3.draggy cloth

4.heavy tiger


6.sleepy machine

7.bed hoarder

8.dead dog



Alternate Names For Jose
By Jayson N. 

  1. Helmet head
  2. Tall
  3. Croc wearer
  4. Eats way too much
  5. Small Ears
  6. Buzz cut boy
  7. Sweaty gamer
  8. Stinky feet
  9. Wanna be Basketball player

*Approved by Jose


Mr. Barr’s 6th grade
Group 1


Alternate for Coco
By Justin G.

 Very Annoying 

Super happy

 Sometimes Smart 

 He’s very Confusing

Most of the time he’s Sad

Most the time Exciting

 Very Fast

 Happy and Playful



Different names for a Pencil
By Xavier G. 

  1. It can be dull
  2. Or it can be sharp
  3. The day you get it, it can be long
  4. The more you use the pencil the shorter
  5. Having it for a while can be dusty
  6. It is brand new the day you get it
  7. Having it for a long time can be old
  8. Pressuring while writing with the pencil can break the lead.   


By Leonel V. 


The best 



No gravity 

Best feeling when I land a trick

Never boring 

Forgetting about life and problems when I skate with my friend Justin



Mr. Barr’s 6th grade
Group 2 



Alternate names for Mexicans
By Julian G.

1.taco eater is what we get called

2.illegal is what they think we are

3.immigrant is what they call us

4.border hopper is what they say when were are somewhere near the border education is what they think we don’t have

6.beaner is what we get called cause we eat a food

7.latinos/latinas is what we used to be called green card is what they think we don’t have               

9.the color of beans is what they call our skin color.


We may be called this but forever we will stand.


Alternate names for Water 
By Joseph R.



3.known for drowning 

4.smooth until put at speed making it sharp

5.clear like the sky

6.originally a liquid source 

8.flavorless when consumed 




“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.