Teach This Poem is a weekly series featuring a poem from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help K-12 teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom.
Resource: “American Pharoah wins Triple Crown, First in 37 Years” by Elisha Fieldstadt. This article was published in NBC News on June 6, 2015.
- Warm-up: Go around the room and ask your students to silently make a gesture representing how they would feel if they were watching a race and saw the underdog pull ahead and win.
Share the news article about the racehorse American Pharoah with your students and ask them to read it silently. Ask them to write down the words and phrases that jump out at them and then to compile a list of questions they have about the article.
- Small-group discussion: Ask your students to gather in small groups to try to answer the questions they have. Why was American Pharoah’s win important? How did it make people feel? Ask them to base their answers on the details they noticed in the article.
- Project Ada Limón’s poem “American Pharoah” in front of the class. Ask your students to read the poem silently and write down the words and phrases that jump out at them. Ask one student to read the poem aloud while the listening students add new items they hear to their lists. Repeat this process with another student reading aloud.
- Ask your students to return to their small groups to share their lists with one another. Based on what they shared, each group should identify a phrase or small section of the poem that they think is important, then create a tableau—a still, silent picture using their bodies—to represent that phrase or section.
- Ask each group to present their tableau to the whole class. After each presentation, discuss with the students who were watching what they noticed about the positions and gestures in each tableau and how it made them feel.
- Whole-class discussion: How does the speaker in the poem feel at the beginning of the poem? How does the speaker feel at the end? What happens that changes the speaker’s perspective? What might the poet be trying to express in this poem? Make sure your students use details from their lists, the discussion, and the tableaux to support their answers.