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.
Resource: Ask each student to bring in a recipe for a dish of food that is meaningful or traditional in their family’s culture. If their family speaks a language other than English, ask them to bring in the name of the food in both languages.
- Warm-up (whip around): What is the name of the food in the recipe you brought? From what culture is this recipe?
- Small-group Discussion: Share the recipe you brought with your group and talk about why you like this type of food. How does it taste and smell? What associations do you have with eating it?
- Reading the Poem: Read the poem silently, then record the words, phrases, and structures that jump out at you.
- 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 jump out at you.
- Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed in the poem with your group and use this as a basis for your discussion. Who is the speaker in the poem? What do we learn about her? Who are the other people in the poem? Who is the poem addressing? Does the speaker seem familiar with the foods she is encountering? What role does food play for the people in the poem, other than providing nourishment? How does sharing the food make them feel? Provide evidence.
- Whole-class Discussion: What do you think the speaker means when she says, “This is how to raise a baby in two places at once, & how / it feels to live and move in two worlds. At once”? Cite evidence from what you’ve noticed in your small-group discussions.
- Extension for Grades 7-10: Bring in a dish of food that was prepared using your family’s recipe and share this dish with the other students in your small group. How are you in many worlds at once? Write a poem about this.
- Extension for Grades 11-12: Interview several students in your class, or people that you know, who come from places or cultures different from your own. Ask them questions about where they grew up, who they live with, where their ancestors lived, what traditions their family keeps, any other languages they speak, and the food they love. Do the people you interview ever feel like they “live and move in two worlds. At once”? Do you? Give an oral presentation to your classmates about what you learned.
More Context for Teachers: In the lesson plan “Writing the Past: Using Poetry to Explore Family History,” sixth-grade teacher Benjamin Gott writes, “Not only was each student able to explore a meaningful part of his or her family’s past, but each poem also reflected his or her distinctive voice. Development of voice in my students is one of my top priorities as an English teacher. If students can find comfort expressing themselves, their writing—both analytical and creative—will improve immeasurably.” Read the lesson plan, which includes a writing prompt.