This lesson plan is part of the series "Incredible Bridges: Poets Creating Community," a project developed by the Academy of American Poets in partnership with EDSITEment, the educational website of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), during the NEH’s 50th anniversary year-long celebration.
Funded by the NEH, “Incredible Bridges” responds to the NEH's initiative The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square, which seeks to demonstrate and enhance the role of the humanities in public life.
Traveling by air these days can be an anxiety-provoking experience for many. Imagine an airport gate where an older person who speaks Arabic has been told over the loudspeaker, in English, a language she does not fully understand, that her plane is delayed. She has a medical situation she must attend to the next day at her destination and fears she won’t arrive in time. She collapses to the floor and starts crying and wailing. From this kind of tense situation, Naomi Shihab Nye creates the idea of a community where compassion, food, tradition, and commonality are shared.
This lesson plan provides a sequence of activities that you can use with your students before, during, and after reading "Gate A-4." Use the whole sequence, or any of the activities, to help your diverse students enter and experience the poem. Feel free to adjust each activity to meet the needs of your particular students.
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Students will create tableaux as a means to understand complex emotions expressed in the narrative of a poem.
Students will explore poetry as a way to develop empathy.
English, Social Studies
Activity 1: Setting the Stage Through Tableaux
Objective: Students will understand some of the complex emotions expressed in the narrative of the poem as a way of developing empathy.
Activity 1: Reading the Poem
Objective: Students will identify words, images, and phrases that seem to be important in the poem.
Activity 2: Vocabulary
Activity 4: Whole-Class Discussion
Objective: Students will develop interpretations of the poem based on evidence in the poem.
Activity 1: What the Poem Says About Community
Objectives: Students will use information from the poem to create a definition of community.
Activity 2: Creating a New Tableau
Objectives: Students will resolve the situation in their original tableau.
Ask your students to write a poem about the incident they initially brought to their small group before they read "Gate A-4." It may, or may not, have been used for the group’s tableau. Remind them to provide enough details in the poem, so people can visualize the incident in their imaginations. How will they end their poem? What is their resolution?
With your students, develop an evaluation tool for their work using the terms exemplary, proficient, developing, and basic. What, for example, do they (and you) think are the characteristics of an exemplary poem that tells a story? A proficient one? One that is developing or basic? You may also want to prompt them to evaluate the appropriateness of their choice of scenario and whether their resolution is based on the details in their poem.
Ask your students to write a persuasive essay about the ingredients needed to create a community and whether one can be created easily or not.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this lesson plan do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.