Free poetry lesson with poet Richard Blanco

Amplify has partnered with Poetry in America® to bring poetry to life in middle school classrooms through the Amplify ELA program. The lessons include tips for leading rich classroom discussions on poetry and videos of a wide variety of interpreters close reading poems. Interpreters include Shaquille O’Neal, Angela Duckworth, Regina Spektor, Joe Biden, Shiza Shahid, Anson Dorrance, Elizabeth Alexander, Duy Doan, and Richard Blanco.

Lesson overview

In “Looking for The Gulf Motel,” poet Richard Blanco uses vivid sensory detail—both in the images and in the sounds of the language itself—to immerse readers in a multisensory experience that makes them feel like they are at The Gulf Motel with him, both in the past and in his memory of the past.

Reading: Students examine sensory details and analyze how they are used to engage readers in Blanco’s experience.

Part I: Making Observations
Students will watch the animated first stanza of “Looking for The Gulf Motel” by Richard Blanco and establish what is happening in the poem.

Part II: Enjoying Language
Students notice the ways in which Blanco uses all five senses in his descriptions of The Gulf Motel.

Part III: Try it On
Students use selected moments from the poem and substitute their own sensory details.

Part IV: Understanding Form and Structure
Students consider the form of the poem and how Blanco uses language to create a shift at the end of the poem.

Download free lesson

Includes instructional guide and student handouts.