Teach This Poem, though developed with a classroom in mind, can be easily adapted for remote learning, hybrid learning models, or in-person classes. Please see our suggestions for how to adapt this lesson for remote or blended learning. We have also noted suggestions when applicable and will continue to add to these suggestions online.
Warm-up (whip around): Answer in one word: What makes a good friend? (Teachers, gather all of the student responses into a word cloud and visually share the responses.)
Before Reading the Poem: Listen to the songs “That’s What Friends Are For” here and “Lean on Me” here. Write down your thoughts on the following question: How do these songs define friendship?
Reading the Poem: Read the poem “On Friendship” by Kahlil Gibran silently. What do you notice about the poem? Annotate for any words or phrases that stand out to you or any questions you might have.
Listening to the Poem (enlist two volunteers to read the poem aloud): Listen as the poem is read aloud twice, and write down any additional words and phrases that stand out to you.
Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed in the poem and the songs with a small group of students. Based on the Wordle from the beginning of class and what you read in the poem, what are the most important attributes of a friend? Why?
Whole-class Discussion: Do you agree or disagree with this line from the poem: “Your friend is your needs answered.” Why or why not? Do you agree or disagree with any other lines? How does the poem and the songs compare to your friendships?
Extension for Grades 7-8: What does friendship mean to you? Create a dance, song, poem, collage, drawing, or photograph that answers this question. Share your creations with the class.
Extension for Grades 9-12: What does friendship mean to you? How has technology and/or social distancing impacted your friendships? Create a short video that explores these questions.
This poem is taken from Gibran’s most famous work, The Prophet, which was first published in 1923 and has sold more than ten million copies worldwide. Learn more about Kahlil Gibran and The Prophet.