In this lesson, students analyze a poem by Marshallese poet Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, then write a poem that reflects their culture or homeland and how they have been affected by climate change.
Step 1 - Inquire: Students identify the Marshall Islands on a map, reflect on the title of the poem “Tell Them,” and listen to a recitation by the poet.
Step 2 - Investigate: Students analyze how elements such as figurative language and imagery in the poem evoke the poet’s culture, homeland, and the impact of climate change.
Step 3 - Inspire: Students use “Tell Them” as a model to write their own poem that connects to their culture, home, and experience of climate change.
This lesson aligns with Hawai'i's Nā Hopena A'o HĀ-Breath Framework.
This lesson can be used as an introduction to a poetry unit in an English class, combined with a social studies class about climate migration, or added to a science class about the impact of rising sea levels on islands.
This lesson shines light on the Marshallese experience as it relates to social injustice and climate change.
This lesson provides students with the opportunity to creatively reflect on their experience of culture and climate change and take action by sharing an urgent message through poetry.
Students should be familiar with basic poetic devices such as metaphors, similes, symbols, and repetition.
Teacher should listen to the recitation in advance in order to become familiar with the pronunciation of the Marshallese words in the poem.
Students may need to independently research impacts of climate change on their community before writing their poems.
Teacher can add sentence starters to the Investigate section to help students interpret the figurative language. For example:
The simile / metaphor / personification [choose 1] “dark brown as the carved ribs of a tree stump” tells us that the poet thinks that the Marshallese people are…because…
The simile / metaphor / personification [choose 1] “we are the ocean terrifying and regal in its power” tells us that the poet thinks that the Marshallese people are…because…
Instead of writing a poem, students can illustrate “Tell Them,” demonstrating their understanding of the imagery, theme, and tone.
Students can memorize and recite all or parts of “Tell Them.”
Students can work in groups to add movement or create a video with visual representations of the poem in order to depict the poem’s meaning, tone, and message.
Students can read this article from CNN to learn more about the impact of climate change on the Marshall Islands.
In this lesson, students will highlight aspects of a poem and discuss how poems might be used to express the effects of climate change on Hawai'i's natural resources, culture, and biodiversity. After carefully fact-checking the lesson contents, this lesson passed our science review.