"Border Boy" by Alberto Ríos

Facilitator Notes: This assignment can be used as a discussion in an in-person lesson plan or as a virtual worksheet. Based on the feedback of the class the assignment can be extended through classroom discussion for one week or one hour. The assignment is designed for students’ ranging from 8th-12th grade.

Sequence of Activities:

Poetry Background:

Answer the following questions:

  • I'm curious, do you like poetry? Why or why not?
  • What makes a poem, a poem?
  • Tell me about the last thing you read. What did you like about it?

The First Poem:

Read "Border Boy" by Alberto Ríos and underline anything that catches your eye.

Answer the following questions:

  • In your opinion, what has Alberto Ríos learned from the border?  
  • Using your imagination, what do you think the border learned from Alberto Ríos?
  • What do you like or dislike about this poem? Why?

Poem Writing:

See what the poet did there. Now it's your turn.

  • Grab a clean sheet of paper
  • On the upper right-hand corner of a separate sheet of paper, answer the following questions:
    • What is your name?
    • What date did you begin writing this poem?
    • What are your pronouns?  He/Him    She/Her    They/Them         
      • Pronoun Tip: A pronoun is a way I refer to you and your work when you aren't around. So, let's say when I'm talking to the editor of this book about your work. Do I say what he wrote was awesome OR, she wrote this powerful line, OR should I use something else—like they/ze? I had a kid once who said their pronoun was dragon! Let me tell you, dragon's poems were fire breathing for sure. PS: My pronouns are he/him.
  • Let's write. Choose one of the prompts below and begin your poem:
    • Prompt One:  Choose an object that represents your personal growth. Write a poem that explains how it made you grow. If it helps use one of the following prompts:
      • My pen and pad has carried me
      • If these walls could talk
    • Prompt Two: If you are advanced, learn the rules so you can break them. Write a poem about an object that represents your growth. Be sure to include how the object has influenced you and you have influenced the object. For example:
      • My neighborhood raised me
        • I have raised my neighborhood
      • The world has seen me
        • I have seen the world                                                      
    • Prompt Three: Draw a picture of your own inspiration!


Education Level: 

Junior High
High School




Lesson Plan

Time Frame: 

1 hour (or extended through classroom discussion for one week)

Required Materials: 

Worksheet or paper, writing utensil, poem print outs

Literary model: 

"Border Boy" by Alberto Ríos

Lesson Plan: