Lesson Plan: Discuss and Write About Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration Poem3 min read
At the Presidential Inauguration of Joe Biden, America’s first ever Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” and made viewers collectively get lost in wonder. Not only through her crafting of hopeful words, but the way she spoke them with such conviction and grace, reminded millions of people the power of poetry. Not only did Gorman present an example to children everywhere what passion looks like at a young age, but she also showed them beautiful writing and recitation. Here are some discussion questions to ask students after they watch the video, as well as an activity where they can craft their own poetry in the same theme.
Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” Reflection Questions
-What do you wonder after hearing her poem?
-What do you think the theme, the overarching message, of her poem is?
-What imagery does she use to make her point?
-Ms. Gorman says, “It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.” What does this mean to you?
-How does her use of voice affect the way you understand her words?
-What did you notice about her body language while she recited the poem?
-Ms. Gorman says, “Then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.” What does she mean by ‘bridges?’
-What makes this different from a normal speech?
Using Imagery in Poetry Lesson Plan
Following the viewing and discussion of Ms. Gorman’s poem, students can complete this activity where they will write their own imagery-rich poems.
Activity Idea: Amanda Gorman uses images to represent abstract ideas. For instance, “A country that is bruised but whole” might represent emotional pain and hope. Words like ‘pain and hope’ can mean many different things, and so images help make them concrete and understandable. Another image she uses in the poem is, “Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest.” This might mean the idea of growth and development, and being formed by experiences. ‘Growth’ is an abstract word, while ‘bronze-pounded chest’ is something you can actually picture.
For this activity, choose an abstract word that “The Hill We Climb” brings to mind, and create images that would help a reader or listener understand it. Engage the five senses, and allow your audience to see, touch, taste, smell, and hear that word.
What does fear taste like? What does love sound like? What does joy smell like? What does hope look like?
Create 5 images to paint a picture of an abstraction.
Optional additions to the assignment
-Make it rhyme like Ms. Gorman does in her poem
-Use a certain meter in your poem
-Choose an abstraction out of a bag (or virtual random name-picker) and create your images around that word
-Recite your poem to the rest of the class, attempting to model the body language and inflection like Amanda Gorman used
Check out more spoken word poetry for teachers here.