Amanda Gorman Inauguration Poem Lessons

On January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris were sworn into office. At the Inauguration ceremony, U.S. Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman made history in being the youngest Inaugural poet. Here are several lessons, all shared with their creators’ permission, to help you teach Amanda Gorman’s poem and inauguration poetry with your students.

Thank you Carrie Mattern, Susan Barber, Melissa Alter Smith, Chanea Bond, Teresa Floch, and Pernille Ripp for sharing your work. A full text of the poem can be found here.

Watch Amanda Gorman read the Inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb”

“The Hill We Climb” hyperdoc

To explore the poem’s craft, some questions you can ask your students (these are also all on the hyperdoc linked above, created by Melissa Alter Smith):

  • What stands out to you? What part do you remember?
  • When did Gorman use creative word play? To make what point? (An example of word play: “we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace” is a play on the common phrase “peace and quiet”)
  • When did Gorman use anaphora? Why might she have chosen to use it there? What effect does it have?
  • What metaphors does Gorman create? How do they help to make comparisons?
  • Where do you notice words being emphasized together with alliteration? How do you think those words work together to create meaning?
  • What is “the hill we climb”?
  • How does Gorman include history (older and recent) in her poem?
  • She both starts and ends her poem with light. Explore the various meanings of light. How does she use light both as an opening and a closing?
  • What is her call at the end of the poem?
  • Bonus: did you spot the references to Hamilton?
Thank you to the New York Times for including #TeachLivingPoets in this article!
Image source: Instagram @amandascgorman
Meet Amanda Gorman hyperdoc created by Carrie Mattern – click on image to access doc

Inauguration Poetry Google Slides. Slides 1-4 by Chanea Bond and Teresa Floch, and slides 5-18 by Pernille Ripp. Slides Deck template from SlidesCarnival

Inaugural Poetry Lesson by Susan Barber

PBS News Hour Lesson Plan: History of presidential inaugurations and how to plan your own ceremony

Carol Jago’s lesson in The New York Times

Celebrate Black Poets – a video playlist for Black History Month

Do you have an Inaugural Poetry lesson to add? Twitter DM Melissa at @MelAlterSmith

4 thoughts on “Amanda Gorman Inauguration Poem Lessons

  1. Pingback: Celebrate Black Poets | #TeachLivingPoets

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