Teach This Poem: "Business" by Naomi Shihab Nye
Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.
In this video from UNICEF, Syrian children discuss escaping the violence in the Syrian Arab Republic and their current situation in Lebanon as refugees.
- Play four to five minutes of the UNICEF film “Syrian Refugee Children Speak Out” for your students twice. The first time, they should watch carefully. The second time, ask them to write down the details, including sights and sounds, that they notice most.
- Ask your students to gather in groups of four to share what they wrote. They should use these observations as a stepping-off point to create a tableau (a still, silent picture with their bodies) that illustrates what they observed. Give the groups time to create and rehearse their tableaux, which they will present to the rest of the class.
- Ask the groups to present their tableaux. While each tableau is in place, ask the observers to write down what they notice—posture, position, gesture, etc. Ask them what they think each tableau is about. What do they think each tableau is saying? What is their evidence?
- Project Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Business” so all your students can see it. Ask them to read the poem silently and write down the words and phrases that jump out at them. Ask one student to read the poem aloud to the whole class while the listeners continue taking notes. Repeat this process with a second student reading aloud.
- Ask your students to gather again in their small groups and discuss the details in the poem that help them understand what it feels like to be a refugee.
- Whole-class discussion: What does it feel like to be a refugee? Make sure your students cite evidence from the poem that backs up their opinions. If you were a refugee, what would you want for yourself and your family?