Inspired by the success of our popular syndicated series Poem-a-Day, we're pleased to present Teach This Poem, winner of the 2018 Innovations in Reading Prize given by the National Book Foundation. 

Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week, accompanied by interdisciplinary primary sources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is produced with the guidance of our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.

Watch a video about Teach This Poem and teaching with primary sources with Dr. Holzer and our Education Ambassador Richard Blanco

Read a short essay that more fully describes the framework upon which Teach This Poem is based.

See our suggestions to help you adapt Teach This Poem for remote or blended learning

Read more about Teach This Poem's impact. 

Latest Teach This Poem Lesson Plan

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

Classroom Activities

  1. Warm-up (quick write): Write a sentence about a time you felt very welcomed by someone else.

  2. Before Reading the Poem (pair share): Join with a partner and share answers to the following questions: How does your culture or family treat strangers? How does your culture treat close family members or friends? How is this the same or different? Why?

  3. Reading the Poem: Read the poem “Red Brocade” by Naomi Shihab Nye 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. You may opt to listen to the poet read the poem aloud twice here. Call back the lines that you like by saying these lines aloud with your classmates. 

  5. Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed in the poem with a small group of students, recalling the discussion from the beginning of class. How does the speaker treat strangers? What might this imply about the speaker’s culture?

  6. Whole-class Discussion: Re-read the last two stanzas in the poem. What argument is the speaker making? Why? How is the speaker refusing to be “claimed”? 

  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Think back to the discussion at the beginning of class. Write your own poem exploring how your culture or family  views treating others or about another important aspect of your culture. 

  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: Think back to the discussion at the beginning of class. Interview a family member or friend and ask them the same questions: How does your culture or family treat strangers? How does your culture treat close family members or friends? Why? Share your interview with the class. Be sure to ask permission before you share. 

More Context for Teachers

In this video from the 2015 National Book Festival, Naomi Shihab Nye talks about the themes she finds herself returning to in her poetry, as well as the poet's civic responsibility “to continue to encourage a sense of civility among us and a sense of curiosity about one another’s lives.” Read more.

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