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

Trimming olive trees in Palestine


Look at the photo titled “Trimming olive trees in Palestine.”

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 about 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, before class, ask students to create a collage about what home means to them.) Share your collage with a partner or a small group of classmates. Discuss: What does home mean? 

  2. Before Reading the Poem: Look at the photograph “Trimming olive trees in Palestine.” What stands out to you in this image? Why? Look again. What else do you see? 

  3. Reading the Poem: Now, silently read the poem “I Belong There” by Mahmoud Darwish. 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 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.  

  5. Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed in the poem with a small group of students. Based on the details you just shared with your small group and the resources from the beginning of class, what do you think home means to the speaker? Why? What has happened to home? How does the poem compare to your collages? 

  6. Whole-class Discussion: (Teachers, your students might benefit from reading a little about Darwish before starting this whole class discussion.) What does the speaker have? What has the speaker lost? What do you make of the last two lines, “I have learned and dismantled all the words in order to draw from them / a single word: Home.”

  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: The poem ends with the word “home.” Write a poem that embodies the home in your collage from the beginning of class. 

  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Learn more about Mahmoud Darwish. Read one of his poems. In a small Socratic seminar, share your thoughts and reactions to the poem with classmates who read the same poem as you. 

More Context for Teachers

Poem in Your Pocket Day was initiated in April 2002 by the Office of the Mayor in New York City, in partnership with the city’s Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all fifty United States, encouraging individuals around the country to participate. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets extended Poem in Your Pocket Day to Canada. Join the celebration—share this poem and more on April 29, 2022. 

Poetry Glossary

This week’s poetic term is free verse, or poetry not dictated by an established form or meter and often influenced by the rhythms of speech. Read more.