I look at the world

by Langston Hughes

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Fenced

Step 1

Start the session by simply reading “I look at the world” by Langston Hughes.

Step 2

When they’re done, have them discuss the content and message of the poem. Then have them talk about the parallels between the poem’s message and society of today.

Step 3

Give your students some time to discuss the “fences” or walls that they face that prevent them from being truly free.

Step 4

When your students have finished their conversation, give them time to write their thoughts out on paper.

Step 5

Tell your students to write a poem, similar in sentiment to Langston Hughes’, in which they talk about the walls or barriers that oppress them.

Step 6

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one. The prominent literary devices & techniques that this particular poem includes are: tone, diction, structure (rhyme scheme), and selection of detail.

Step 2

Have your students read “I look at the world” by Langston Hughes. Then have them discuss what the poem’s message is.

Step 3

Have your students discuss any particular images or words that stood out. Then ask them to discuss why.

Step 4

Tell your students to open the following document. Today the students will be looking at the poem – stanza by stanza – and choosing one word from each of those stanzas that best reflects the poem’s message. Full directions are provided at the top of the page.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses. Then, if time permits, share the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Social Movements / Protest

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure (Rhyme Scheme)
  • Tone