Teach This Poem: "Carrying Our Words" by Ofelia Zepeda
Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.
Thomas Moran (American, 1837-1926). Sunset at Sea, 1906. Oil on canvas, 30 3/16 x 40 3/16 in. (76.7 x 102.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the executors of the Estate of Colonel Michael Friedsam.
- Warm-up: Quickly go around the room and ask your students to make a sound or a gesture that they associate with the ocean.
- Show your students the image of the painting “Sunset at Sea.” Ask them to write down what they notice in the painting. When they write “the ocean” or “a sunset,” they should also note which aspects of the painting (lines, color, brush strokes) led them to conclude this. Ask your students to turn and talk with a partner to share what they noticed. What specific words would they use to describe what they saw and felt?
- Project the poem “Carrying Our Words.” Ask your students to read it silently and then write down all the words, phrases, and structural elements that jump out at them. Ask one student to read the poem aloud while the listening students list any new words, phrases, and structural elements that they hear. Repeat this process with a second student reading aloud.
- Ask your students to gather in small groups and share what they noticed in the poem. Which words and images do they think are the strongest?
- Whole-class discussion: How does the speaker in the poem feel about the ocean? What evidence in the poem tells you this? Why does the speaker call the ocean her relative?