Wednesday, December 4, 2013


ITESMs Inaugural Dream Flags

This is for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly carnival focusing on providing blogs to ESL teachers around the globe. If you'd like to contribute to next month's Blog Carnival, please contact Dean at, for more information and check out the other bloggers contributions here.

"What lesson or moment are you most proud of in the classroom?"

I don't know if I could pick one, but I can pick the most recent!
This semester I made it a priority to have my students do work which would NOT just stay in the classroom. One aspect of this was that we made dream flags!
We started the semester talking about hopes and dreams and kept that theme going throughout the short stories and assignments. 

When it got down to it we had a day or two of poetry where we made poetry videos discussing different types of poetry (Catalog, Diamante, Haiku, etc.)
Picking their favorite type of poem, students created their own poems about their dreams and put them on dream flags.

What are dream flags? Well, to the right is the description we posted along with our flags.
Basically, dream flags are an international art and poetry project inspired by Tibetan Prayer Flags and Langston Hughes' poetry. 

It is a chance for students to contemplate and reflect about different dreams that we have and embrace in the similarities.

Once a year in Philadelphia there is a Dream Flag ceremony where schools that are able to are invited to send their flags to be displayed along others made during this event.

How did we go about making the dream flags?

After the students wrote their poems, their teacher looked over them for spelling or grammar errors. I was sure to keep in mind that poetry, unlike an essay, doesn't have to follow traditional grammar rules. My students LOVED this as it gave them the chance to be more creative and really play with the language.

Then, each student got a piece of material (usually a cut up t-shirt) that was about the size of a piece of paper (8.5 by 10). It was a windy day so we taped it down to the table to be sure it didn't fly off.

Most students wrote their poems down in marker first, but some of them went straight to paint.

After the basic poem was written down many students went over the text in a different color, or with sparkles.

Then they used the markers, stamps, and paints to decorate the rest of their flag however they liked.
At the end we carefully took them to my office where we spread them out to dry.
While we were doing this some students from other English classes came by and had the chance to work on their own flag! The catch? They had to write and speak in English! My students could help them with their poems (and I would play the video we made), but we had to communicate in English.

In the end the students made unique flags to represent their unique dreams!

Some of them still had errors, but the meaning and hope still manages to show through!

 Once we finished, we strung them up on campus and let people see what they were.
We also uploaded them to the dream flags gallery where other schools involved in the project can see them
I am looking forward to doing this again with next semester's class. Plus, in the next semester we'll send this batch of flags (and the next semesters) to Philadelphia for the ceremony which is really exciting for my students.

For more information on the dream flag project (like how to join or its history you can check out

If you end up being part of the dream flag project please let me know, so I can take a look at your students' creations! You can comment here, tweet me at @eslcarissa or find me on facebook 


  1. What a wonderful job! I wish I could do in my class.

    1. What's stopping you? If it is the money, you can just do it on paper and put them around your classroom. The language? Poems can be done at almost any English level! Just have them write nouns they hope everyone has (food, toys, life, love) and decorate it. Not everyone can send theirs to Philadelphia, but it can still be adapted and used in your class!

  2. What a wonderful job! I started slow this year with only using permanent markers. I hope to expand next year, but time will tell. Thank you for sharing these with the world. The process and products are beautiful.

    1. Some of my students chose to do theirs using just markers and I think they turned out beautifully. I was really happy to start this as I am not very artsy, so most of this did not come naturally to me!


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