Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth

Activity 3: Life Lesson Poems

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Pens or pencils and journals
  • Optional: CD player and CD of instrumental music

Preparation for Activity

  • If participants are allowed to leave the immediate area to write, decide how you will call everyone back (with a bell/chime, verbally, or by singing).
  • Decide if you will have participants write in silence or with background music. You might ask the group which they prefer, or you might alternate approaches in subsequent workshops.

Description of Activity

Each participant crafts a poem about a teacher/learner relationship.

Say to participants, "Each of you will write a poem in which someone is learning and someone or something is teaching, inspiring, or guiding. In your poem, the teacher does not need to be aware that s/he or it is teaching. However, the poem should describe the lesson that the student learns."

To spark youths' imaginations, suggest the following as possible subjects of the poem:

  • One of the "What have you learned from... " prompts from Activity 1
  • A relationship between traditional teacher/learner pairs, such as minister/worshipper, human/pet, coach/athlete, older sibling/younger sibling
  • Rewrite the story the author of one of today's poems by switching the point of view; for example, have the child or the bird tell Hirshfield's "A Story"

Invite participants to find a comfortable place to begin writing. You might play background music or have the group write in silence. If youth are allowed to leave the immediate area and write elsewhere, they should tell you where they are going and you should tell them what time the group will reconvene. Check in with participants as they write. Give a five-minute and then a two-minute warning.

If there is time, gather participants and invite poets to share their work. If not, ask participants to hold their work for sharing at the next meeting.