The meaning behind 6th graders names @ Dulles

This week I was excited to meet my group of 6th graders to begin our mini poetry residency. For the next five weeks I’ll be teaching and writing poetry with 6th graders on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The theme for our first week is about names and their meanings. Why do we have names? Do names define who you truly are?

On Tuesday students read and discussed the poem “a girl named jack,” by Jacqueline Woodson. In her poem she tells the origin story of her name. Her father wanted her to be named Jack after him, believing she would grow up strong by having his name.  But her mother and aunts were against it and compromised by giving her the name Jaqueline instead. I helped students look up the meaning of their names. For those who couldn’t find what their name meant, I told them to create one for themselves.

On Thursday we continued our discussion of names by reading “Alternate Names for Black Boys,’ by Danez Smith. Smith’s poem was a list of 17 name choices to describe black boys. The names that stood out for students were: 5. guilty until proven dead/ 10. going, going, gone/ 17. a mother’s joy & clutched breath. These names express the violence towards young black males.

Below are poems by students about names and their special meanings. Please enjoy.




Ms. Alford
6th Grade


Bella   (Boo)
by Bella C.

My name is Bella.
My parents named me.
My name represents
beautiful in Spanish.
I really don’t like my name
a little bit.

I wish my name was Jaydaa.
I’m thinking to change my name
when I get older to Jaydaa Chanel
when I get older.

But my mom tells me not to,
because my name is pretty.
But I also might not because
I’m named after my grandma’s.


By Jordyn G.

My name is Jordyn
and my name comes
from the Bible.

I am named after the
Jordan River in the Bible,
and my mom named me.

My name means hope
and I kinda like my name,
but it can give me a hard time.

Also, Jesus was baptized in the
Jordan River and its another
reason why I like my name.

I think my name matches
my personality because

I am very hopeful and nice,
and that’s my name.



Alternate Names for Earth
By Tawaun C.

  1. Planets where humans live
  2. The living planet
  3. The Third planet
  4. The home of all living things
  5. Blue water and green land planet
  6. The moon orbiter
  7. animals & humans
  8. The blue planet


Alternate Names for Me
By Takia L.

  1. Drama Queen
  2. Crybaby
  3. Mature
  4. Quiet
  5. Shy
  6. Mean
  7. Goofy
  8. Sensitive


Alternate Names for Boyfriend 
By Shamaria T.

  1. My stinka butt
  2. My boo
  3. My other half
  4. My world
  5. My man
  6. Bae
  7. My bookie
  8. My heart



“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.