lesson plan

Teach This Poem: "Tuesday 9/11/01" by Lucille Clifton

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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.

Featured Poem

Photograph Taken on 9/13/01 in New York

By Andrea Booher/ FEMA News Photo. Sep 13, 2001. Location: New York, NY.

By Andrea Booher/ FEMA News Photo. Sep 13, 2001. Location: New York, NY.

Classroom Activities
  1. Warm-up: Go around the room quickly and ask your students what associations they have with the date September 11. If a student can’t think of what to say, they can pass, and you can ask them again when everyone else has finished.
  2. Project the photograph taken by Andrea Booher on September 13, 2001, so all your students can see it.  Ask them to write down the things that jump out at them from the image. Give them plenty of time.
  3. Place your students in small groups. Ask each group to create a tableau (a still picture with no talking) of the details they saw in the photo and how these made them feel. Give them several minutes to work together, and then ask each group to present their tableau to the other students in the class. Ask the watching students to report on the details they see in the tableau and how these details make them feel.
  4. Project Lucille Clifton’s poem “Tuesday 9/11/01” so all your students can view it. Ask them to read it silently and jot down the words, phrases, and structural elements that jump out at them. Ask one student to read the poem aloud while the listeners add new words, phrases, and structural aspects to their notes. Repeat the process with another student reading aloud.
  5. Ask your students to gather back in their small groups and share what they have written down.
  6. Whole-class discussion: What feelings are evoked by the photograph and the poem about September 11? How are these feelings similar to, and different from, each other? What did the photographer and the poet do to evoke these feelings? (Your students can use the details they have written down as  evidence.) What feelings and ideas do your students take away after viewing the photograph and reading the poem? (You may want to ask them to write in some way about the last question.)