Teach This Poem: "The Sky Over My Mother’s House" by Jaime Manrique
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.
- Warm Up (pair share): Think of a special memory of an older relative. Is there a particular location that you associate with this relative—a house or a place that you visited together?
- Listening to the Poem Read in Spanish (individual writing): Listen to Jaime Manrique read his poem in Spanish twice (starting at 1:28 in the audio recording). Listen to his voice and the rhythm of his words. Write down what you hear.
- Small-group Discussion: What can you learn about the speaker’s emotions from the sounds of the poem, even if you do not understand Spanish? What is your evidence?
- Individual Reading and Pair Share: Read the poem silently in English, then record the words, phrases, and structures that jump out at you. If you speak Spanish, read the poem silently in this language, and record the words, phrases, and structures that jump out at you.
- Listening to the Poem Read in English (enlist two volunteers to read the poem aloud): Write down what you hear when the poem is read aloud in English.
- Small-group Discussion: What did you hear when the poem was read in Spanish? What did you see when you read the poem? What did you hear when the poem was read in English?
- Whole-class Discussion: How does hearing the poem in both Spanish and English, as well as reading it on the page, help you think about what the poem may mean? What does this poem have to do with what we did in our warm up?
- Extension for Grades 7-10: Create a camera obscura using the directions provided by the J. Paul Getty Museum. How is the image from a camera obscura like a memory? How is it like a translation?
- Extension for Grades 11-12: Conduct a staged debate about the virtues and problems of translations. Give examples from “The Sky Over My Mother’s House” to back up your points.