Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.

Featured Poem

Classroom Activities

  1. For homework, ask your students to write down what they remember about a special time with a parent, guardian, or other important older person in their lives.
  2. Ask them to share what they wrote down with a partner. The partners should ask questions to help each other add details to their description of the special time. Make sure both students have time to share.
  3. Project the poem “Afternoons” by Jorge H. Aigla so all your students can see it in both Spanish and English. Ask your students to read the poem silently and write down the words and phrases that jump out at them in the language or languages they understand. When they have finished writing, ask one of your students to read the poem in English aloud to the class while the listening students jot down details that they did not notice before in the poem. Repeat this process with another student reading aloud. (If some of your students are fluent in Spanish, ask one or two of them to read the poem aloud in Spanish, as well. What do they hear in the Spanish that they do not hear in English, and vice versa?)
  4. Ask your students to gather in small groups to share what they noticed in the poem. What kinds of details stand out to them? Why do they think they might be important?
  5. Whole-group discussion: Ask your students what made their times with an older person special to them? Why do they think the speaker in the poem thought his afternoons were special? What do they think “alertness of time” means? Why do they think the speaker says the afternoons “taught me what it is to fill out/the alertness of time?” 
  6. Additional writing: Ask your students to continue refining their descriptions of their special memories with attention to “the alertness of time.” This can be a paragraph, an essay, or a poem.