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

“I’m Tired” by Labrinth and Zendaya.

 Listen to the song “I’m Tired” by Labrinth and Zendaya.

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) Write or draw for a few minutes about what comes to mind when you hear the phrase, “my life closed twice.” Share your writing or drawing with the class.  

  2. Before Reading the Poem: Listen to the song “I’m Tired” by Labrinth and Zendaya. What words or phrases stand out you? Why?

  3. Reading the Poem: Silently read the poem “My Life Closed Twice” by Cameron Awkward-Rich. 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. Write down any additional words and phrases that stand out to you. Or, you can listen to the poet read the poem

  5. Small Group Discussion: Share what you noticed about the poem with a small group. How do the resources from the beginning of class connect to your understanding of the poem? What does it mean for a life to close twice? How does this relate to the drawing or writing you did at the beginning of class?

  6. Whole Class Discussion: How would you describe the speaker in this poem? Why? What does the poem say about love and/or life? 

  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Read “My life closed twice before its close (96)” by Emily Dickinson. What words or phrases stand out in the poem? Why? How is this poem similar to/different from the modern version? What themes do you see in both poems? 

  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Respond in writing to these lines: “poetry / is written with the knowledge of / and against death, that it is / a beacon, a bulwark, then Love.” If you feel comfortable, share your writing with the class.
More Context for Teachers

Since 2020, many cities have provided mental health resources for children and adolescents to address overwhelming feelings of anxiety, fear, sadness, and stress, such as the “COVID-19 Guide to Mental Health Resources for Children, Teens & Young Adults” by the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC. The resources in this guide are free and accessible by phone or web.

Poetry Glossary

Couplet: a two-line stanza, or two lines of verse, rhymed or unrhymed. Read more