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

Look closely at the image of Jennifer Packer’s painting “A Lesson in Longing.” 

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: Look closely at the image of Jennifer Packer’s painting “A Lesson in Longing.” What stands out to you in the painting? Why? What do the colors and images make you feel? Why? 
  2. Before Reading the Poem: Listen closely to the song, “Love is So Simple” by the Dells. What words/phrases in the song stand out to you? Why? 
  3. Reading the Poem: Silently read the poem “Resignation” by Nikki Giovanni. 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 about 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 connections can you make between the painting, song, and the poem? What do the poem, song, and painting say about love? What do you think about the title of the poem, “Resignation”? (Teachers, younger students might appreciate the definition of resignation.) What do you notice about the structure of the poem? 
  6. Whole-class Discussion: With a small group of students, decide on the most important line in the poem. Then, with your classmates, debate why this line is the most important. What does this line reveal about the speaker and/or the beloved? 
  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Choose another love poem from this list and read it. Recite your poem for the class or write your own love poem to share. Afterwards, write a brief reflection that answers these two questions: What is a love poem or song? Why is it that poets and musicians continue to write about love? What did you learn? 
  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Browse this list of classic and contemporary love poems. Choose one poem that interests you. Find a (school-appropriate) song that you think would pair well with your selected poem. Write a short reflection about why these two pieces of art would pair well together. 
More Context for Teachers

“Parker spoke directly to me when she discussed the beauty of loving another woman: ‘my lover is a woman / & when i hold her / feel her warmth / i feel good / feel safe.’ Her poems of gay pride, political activism and her open, unapologetic love of women gave me courage to come out to my own family.” Read the article “Queer Poets on the Poems That Changed Their Lives.”

Poetry Glossary

Anaphora: a technique in which successive phrases or lines begin with the same words, often resembling a litanyRead more.