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.

Featured Poem

Related Resource

NIdn Art
View this virtual exhibit Ancestors Know Who We Are curated by Anya Montiel at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. 

Classroom Activities

The following activities and questions are designed to help your students use their noticing skills to move through the poem and develop their thinking skills so they understand its meaning with confidence, using what they’ve noticed as evidence for their interpretations. Read more about the framework upon which these activities are based.

  1. Warm-up: (free-write/draw) Do you believe in ghosts or spirits? Why or why not? Share your writing/drawing with the class. 
  2. Before Reading the Poem: (Teachers, you may want to preselect an image.) View the virtual exhibit Ancestors Know Who We Are curated by Anya Montiel at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. What did you learn? Share with your class.

  3. Reading the Poem: Silently read the poem “Gahé Dzíł / Mountain Spirits” by Crisosto Apache. What do you notice about the poem? Note any words or phrases that stand out to you, or any questions you might have.

  4. Listening to the Poem: Enlist two volunteers and listen as the poem is read aloud twice, and write down any additional words and phrases that stand out to you. Or you can listen to an audio recording of the poem.

  5. Small Group Discussion: Share what you noticed about the poem with a small group of students. Based on the details you just shared with your small group, how might the image(s) from the exhibit you viewed earlier relate to the poem? How does your view on spirits and the writing/drawing you shared at the beginning of class relate to this poem? Why?

  6. Whole Class Discussion: What image from the poem is your favorite? Why? What does this poem say about the history of colonization and forced migration? What does it say about survival?  

  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: How is this poem a conversation with ancestors? What would you say if you could speak to your ancestors or descendants, real or imagined? Write the conversation you might have. Share your writing with the class. 

  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: In honor of Native American Heritage Month, use this map to search what native land you are on. Research this land and the first people who lived where you currently live. What did you learn? Create a presentation that honors these first inhabitants of the native land and their accomplishments. Share your presentation with the class.

More Context for Teachers

On the official website by members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, “Our Culture” provides an understanding of the history and significance of the four sacred mountains Sierra Blanca, Guadalupe Mountains, Three Sisters Mountain, and Oscura Mountain Peak. Read more about the history of the Apache Tribe.

Poetry Glossary

Allegory: a narrative or visual representation with an underlying meaning, moral message, or political significance. Read more.