by Chen Chen
Photo by Paula Champagne
Workshop Title: Splendiferous
Start by reading “Summer” by Chen Chen. When you’re done, briefly discuss whom the poem is directed/written to and why the poet felt the need to write this poem.
Ask your students, “What other groups of people can you think of that would benefit from hearing words of affirmation and validation? Why?” Then give them time to discuss.
Have your students choose one of the groups of people that was discussed earlier, one who could possibly “benefit” from hearing words of affirmation and praise. Then ask them to come up with a list of qualities or traits that make this group of people unique, praiseworthy, human, loved, etc.
Ask your students to write a poem similar in sentiment to “Summer” by Chen Chen in which they offer words of recognition, praise, or validation to any group of people.
When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.
Area of Focus: Various
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: diction, tone, selection of detail, structure, and structure (syntax).
Show your students the following video to give them a bit of context to the poem they are about the read.
When the video is done, ask your students why the people in the video feel so empowered by being in a space like that.
*You want to make sure that you steer their conversation toward something along the lines of, “I think they feel empowered in that space because they don’t have that same level of understanding or empathy in their everyday lives,” or something to that extent.
Ask your students to take out a sheet of paper and ask them to think of a list of things they would or could say to any of the people shown in the video that would help support, affirm, or validate their identities. Before they start writing, make sure they are cognizant and mindful of the person they are talking to and the experiences this person may have endured; in other words, make sure that the things they would say speak directly to them. After a few minutes, have your students share their responses.
Read “Summer” by Chen Chen. While reading, have your students pay close attention to any poetic elements or techniques the poet uses to convey their message toward their intended audience.
Have your students open the following document and go over the instructions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to have to examine how writers (and poets) craft their writing to meet the needs, interests, and experiences of their intended audience, in this case the youth from the LGBTQ community.
When your students are done, have them share their answers with one another. If time permits, share the exemplar essay with them.
- Children / Youth
- Community / Culture
- Education Formal / Informal
- Gender / Gender Identity / Gender Expression / Sexism
- Home / Homelessness
- Mental Health
- Selection of Detail
- Structure (Syntax)
- Transphobia and Trans Misogyny