Nighttime & Other Poetry Lessons: Activities from Writing the Community Teaching Artists


Each semester, teaching artists from our Writing the Community program contribute lesson plans to our online archive. These activities were designed for and taught in participating K-12 classrooms throughout Tucson. Here are some highlights from the 2018-2019 school year:

  • Letter to Younger/Future Self Poems: Teré Fowler-Chapman's lesson plan, designed to prepare students at the CAPE school for visits from poets Evie Shockley and Patrick Rosal, invites participants to write epistolary poems to who they once were or who they hope to become. 
  • Nighttime: In this lesson plan from Rachel Mindell, students write list poems drawing on the sounds, images, and feelings of the world at night. 
  • "Carrying Our Words": "What words can we carry across borders?" asks Carolyn Ferrucci in this multi-activity lesson plan that begins with Ofelia Zepeda's poem of the same name and ends with a suggestion to connect with a local organization that works with immigrants in detention and see if you can send poems and drawings to them. This lesson plan was originally designed for a dual-language classroom, but can work anywhere!
  • They Never Had It Made: This lesson plan, designed by Lisa M. O'Neill for the CAPE school, is inspired by Nikky Finney's poem "He Never Had It Made." Be sure to check out O'Neill's blog post about Finney's visit to the school
  • Promises to a River: "What would you promise a river?" Sophie Daws asks in this early elementary lesson plan and in her accompanying blog post. This lesson invites youngsters to explore the concept of making promises and the importance of protecting the natural world. 
  • Writing from Images: In this lesson plan, Sevi asks students to write poems based on magazine images. This lesson plan incorporates both individual and collaborative work! 
  • Soil and Rocks: This lesson plan by Saraiya Kanning incorporates movement, plants, and Byrd Baylor's classic children's book Everyone Needs a Rock. The students produce a group poem about what it feels like to be a rock, and then find their own special rock or chunk of soil to share with the group. 
  • Animal, May I Borrow ...?: Charlie Buck's lesson plan, inspired by writer Kimi Eisele, encourages participants to interact emotionally with the natural world and produces touching lines like, "Stingray, may I borrow your sense of wonder, for I too want to take flight and explore."

Have you used any of our lesson plans in your classroom? We'd love to hear from you! Send me an email at and let me know how it went! 

Photograph by Social Cut