Teach This Poem: "Lunch Break" By Francisco Aragón

Featured Poem

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: (free-write) Write about when you feel most at peace. Where are you when you feel this way? Who might be with you, or are you alone? Or, write about how you might schedule your day if you could choose the activities. If you feel comfortable, share your writing with a classmate.  

  2. Before Reading the Poem: (Teachers, before class, ask students to send in a photo that they feel best represents their day or something personally meaningful. Let students know that you will share these photos. Use the images to create a virtual or real gallery walk.) Look closely at the images in the gallery walk. Which images stand out to you? Why? Look again. What images might you want to know more about? Why? 

  3. Reading the Poem: Read the poem “Lunch Break” by Francisco Aragón 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.

  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 your activities from the beginning of class, what might be the significance of the title, “Lunch Break?” How does this poem compare to how you might choose to spend your time? 

  6. Whole-class Discussion: What might be the relationship between the speaker in the poem and “he” at home? Read the definition of a sonnet. Do you feel that this poem is a sonnet? Why or why not?

  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Over the course of a week, document your life by taking photos or creating images. At the end of the week, choose three photos/images that speak to you. Incorporate these images into a poem. 

  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: The poet Frank O’Hara famously wrote poems during his lunch break. Read some of those poems here. Choose a time of day where you can write for approximately 15-20 minutes. Each day, over the course of a week, write one poem. Each day, try to lean into writing about what you are feeling, experiencing or seeing. At the end of the week, share your experiences with your classmates and share one of your poems. 
More Context for Teachers

The Poetry Breaks series was filmed in the late 1980s and early 1990s by creator Leita Luchetti, who coproduced the series with the WGBH New Television Workshops. Poetry Breaks features short videos of internationally renowned poets reading their work, reading the work of other poets, and discussing their takes on poetry in a variety of locations. Watch a Poetry Breaks video on your next lunch break.

Poetry Glossary

This week’s poetic term is enjambment, or the continuation of a phrase or sentence from one line to another without an end-stop. Read more.