Teach This Poem is a weekly series featuring a poem from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help K-12 teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom.


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 (whip around): What is the purpose of a map? Why do we use maps? (Teachers, as students share reasons, list them on the board.) 
  2. Before Reading the Poem (noticing and pair share): Look carefully at the first map from 1889. What stands out to you? Why? Look at the second map from 1892. What stands out to you in this map? Why? How are these two images connected, and what has changed in the three years between them? 
  3. Reading the Poem: Read the poem “They Don’t Love You Like I Love You” by Natalie Diaz silently. Notice the words and phrases that jump out at you, then think about what you noticed as you annotate the poem. 
  4. Listening to the Poem (enlist one volunteer to read the poem aloud): Listen as the poem is read aloud by a student and to the audio recording of the poet reading the poem aloud, and write down any additional words and phrases that stand out to you. Call back the lines that you like by saying these lines aloud with your group. 
  5. Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed in the poem with your partner and another pair of students. How would you describe the speaker? How would you describe the mother? What do the two want from each other? 
  6. Whole-class Discussion: Reread the phrase “America is Maps— / Maps are ghosts: white and / layered with people and places I see through.” What might this phrase mean? How does it compare with the maps you looked at and with the list you and your classmates made at the beginning of class about the purpose of maps? 
  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: The poem was inspired by a song called “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Watch the video of the song. Think about a song that means a lot to you. Like Diaz’s poem, write a poem that uses lines from the song, or write a response to the poem in the voice of the speaker’s mom.
  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Watch the video of the song “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which inspired this poem. Write a compare-and-contrast essay about the poem and song.

More Context for Teachers: In “A Poetry Portfolio: Featuring Five of Our Country’s Finest Native Poets,” Natalie Diaz writes, “There is a reason why many natives come to poetry, and not because, as I’ve heard on occasion, we speak in poetry. Not because we were born with poetry in our mouths and eagles in our hearts. We come to poetry for the same reasons nonnatives come to poetry… it is a place to remember what has been done to us and to others, to remind those who have done those things to us, to challenge the world, to elegize our loved ones, and it’s also a place to be hopeful and grateful—a space that simultaneously encompasses the past, present, and future.” Read more