7th-12th Grade Field Trip Writing Activity (2019-2021): “The Border: A Double Sonnet”

This is the lesson plan version of this activity. The worksheet version is available as an attached file under "Lesson Plan" in the righthand column of this page.

Sequence of Activities:

Introduce Alberto Ríos (2 minutes)

Share the following information with students: Alberto Ríos was born in Nogales, Arizona to a mother from England and a father from Mexico. Ríos grew up speaking both Spanish and English, and spending time on both sides of the border, which at the time could be crossed freely. He got two degrees at the University of Arizona. In 2013, he was named the Arizona Poet Laureate, and he teaches at ASU.

“The Border: A Double Sonnet” and discussion (13-15 minutes)

Ask a student volunteer to read “The Border: A Double Sonnet.”

Read it one more time to students, asking them to underline or circle lines that stand out to them as you do.

Poem discussion:

  • What did you notice about this poem? Are there any lines that stood out to you?
  • What details does Ríos use to describe the border? What senses?
  • What poetic techniques does Ríos use to write the poem? (Some answers: metaphor, similes, imagery, anaphora) Why do you think he uses these techniques?
  • How does this poem make you feel?

Assignment: (15-20 minutes)

Offer the students the following prompt: Write your own poem using repetition and metaphor. Choose a place that is part of the region where you live. (Examples for students in Tucson: “the border,” “the desert”, “Tucson”, “Barrio Hollywood”, “Mt. Lemmon”, “Nogales.”) Write at least seven lines—if you’re feeling ambitious you can make it fourteen!

If there’s time, invite the students to share their poems, a line from their poems, or what they wrote about.

Listen to Alberto Ríos speak about this poem on NPR! You can also hear Ríos read poems in our VOCA archive.



To practice writing with repetition and metaphor

Education Level: 

Junior High
High School




Writing Prompt

Time Frame: 

30-40 minutes

Prior Knowledge/Skills: 

Familiarity with poetry, basic knowledge of metaphors

Required Materials: 

Copies of poem, paper, pencils/pens

Literary model: 

“The Border: A Double Sonnet” by Alberto Ríos

Lesson Plan: