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

Deb Haaland, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, stands in colorful Indigenous attire

Look closely at the images of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, the first Indigenous Cabinet member. 

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) Finish this sentence “I am…” If you feel comfortable, share your free-write with a partner. 

  2. Before Reading the Poem: Look closely at the images of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, the first Indigenous Cabinet member. What do you notice in the images? What does this make you think? Look again. What do you notice about her posture? Her expression? Her clothing? (Teachers, you may want to tell students that the poet of the poem they are about to read created the beadwork in this particular photo.)  

  3. Reading the Poem: Read the poem “More Than Something Else” by Rainy Dawn Ortiz 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. Or, you may opt to listen to the poet read the poem aloud. 

  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 does the speaker want? What does the speaker value? 

  6. Whole-class Discussion: Discuss the significance of the title. What does it mean to be “More Than Something Else?” How might the poem be different without this title? (Teachers, your students might enjoy listening to this podcast about the poem to further the discussion.

  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Learn more about Native poets and history by perusing the Living Nations, Living World website. After, choose to create your own map. Share your creation with your class. (Teachers, you can find more explicit directions on the website here.

  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Learn about the LANDBACK movement. Research and learn more about the land on which you live and its history. (Teachers you can find more resources here and here.) Create a presentation and share what you learned.

More Context for Teachers

“What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.” November is National Native American Heritage Month. Find lesson plans, activities, and more resources for the occasion.

Poetry Glossary

Repetition is the poetic technique of repeating the same word or phrase multiple times within a poem or work. Read more.