Teach This Poem: “When I Grow Up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities” by Chen Chen

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

Resource: View photographs of 2018’s Hurricane Florence taken from the International Space Station.

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 (quick write): What are some expectations that people have of you? Make a list. 
  2. Before Reading the Poem (noticing and pair share): Look closely at the images of a hurricane. Write down what you notice about the images. What descriptive words capture the storm? 
  3. Reading the Poem: Read the poem by Chen Chen 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 two volunteers to read the poem aloud): Listen as the poem is read aloud twice. Write down any additional words and phrases that jump out at you. Call back the lines that you like by saying these lines aloud with your group. 
  5. Small-group Discussion: Share the words and phrases you noticed in a small group with your partner and another pair of students. How do these words and phrases from the poem relate to the images of the storm? Share any words that are new to you and research their answers. Be prepared to use this information in a whole-class discussion.
  6. Whole-class Discussion: What do you think the person speaking in the poem wishes? Why? How do you think that the speaker in this poem feels about expectations placed upon them? How might these expectations relate back to the list of expectations you wrote at the beginning of class? Why? 
  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Make a two-column chart. On one side, list people who are important in your life. On the other side, list what their expectations are for you and why. Possible examples could include parents or guardians who expect you to earn certain grades and also participate in several extracurricular activities.
  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Using your notes from the beginning of class, write a letter to someone in your life explaining what you think about their expectations of you. Or, research cyclones and write a first-person narrative about a cyclone.