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.

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Featured Poem

Related Resource

Listen to the song “Thank You” by Dido.

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: (Teachers give students three Post-its or small sheets of paper.) On each Post-it, write down one thing that you are grateful for. Know that you will share these with your class. After you finish, display your Post-its and, if possible, make a gratitude wall. Looking at the large gratitude list, what stands out? Why? Do you notice any patterns or connections? If so, what might these reveal? 

  2. Before Reading the Poem: Listen to the song “Thank You” by Dido. What words or phrases stand out to you? How would you describe the song? Why?  

  3. Reading the Poem: Silently read the poem “Gratitude List” by Naomi Shihab Nye. What do you notice about it? 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. Write down any additional words and phrases that stand out to you. Or, you can opt to listen to the poet read the poem. 

  5. Small Group Discussion: Share what you noticed about the poem with a small group of students. How do the resources from the beginning of class connect to your reading and understanding of the poem? How would you describe the speaker of the poem? Why? 

  6. Whole Class Discussion: How is the first section of the poem different from the second section? What is the tone of each section? What do you make of the line “Thank you for insulting me”? Is the speaker grateful for this? How might you feel in the speaker’s shoes? What do the ingredients represent in the poem? 

  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Think back to the wall of gratitude from the beginning of class. Write your own gratitude poem. Feel free to use ideas from the beginning of class. Have you ever experienced anything similar to the ideas expressed in the poem? If so, include your own experience. If you are able to, share your gratitude poem by making a classroom display of poems. 

  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Watch this video of Naomi Shihab Nye discussing inspiration and poetry. What are the poems and things that most inspire you? Work alone or with a partner to create a class anthology about themes represented in the poem. Instructions can be found here

More Context for Teachers

Watch “Video: Civic Responsibility of the Poet in America Today” which showcases the 2015 National Book Festival in Washington D.C. when Academy Chancellors Juan Felipe HerreraJane Hirshfield, and Naomi Shihab Nye had a conversation about poetry and the poet’s role in American culture today. 

Poetry Glossary

List Poem: a deliberately organized poem containing a list of images or adjectives that build up to describe the poem’s subject matter through an inventory of things. Read more.