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Free Unit for Elizabeth Acevedo's The Poet X

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

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This unit was from when we were teaching virtually in 2020. I was a terrible virtual teacher and I really hated it, but I think some good handouts came out of it. I decided to teach The Poet X after my 10 self-contained students voted to read it. The free unit for The Poet X is detailed below.

How I Had Kids Vote on the Class Book

One thing I am committed to this year is trying (to the extent possible) to let the kids pick the books that we read as a whole class. (I have a lot of reasons for doing whole class texts, but that's a whole other blog post.) To set up the vote, I gave the kids a reading questionnaire (attached below this paragraph), looked at the demographics of each class (listed in my grade book), and looked at their Reading Inventory scores. We use the Scholastic Reading Inventory as our baseline testing tool and it provides us with the reading range for each student based on lexile. After looking at all of this information, I offered my classes three books that I thought might match their interests and were within their “stretch” reading limits (ie: no more than 100 Lexile points over their reading level. I offered my 9 & 10 reading classes Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez and The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo.

To introduce the books to the kids, I put a short PowerPoint together that for each book had a picture of the cover, the first page, and a short summary. I talked through the PowerPoint and read the first few pages of each book to the kids. After that, the kids voted by filling in a Google form. I have attached my PowerPoint if you would like to use it, but you will need to update the Google form or voting tool that you use, as mine is attached to my school account.

Here is the reading questionnaire:

Reading Survey-Med_Adv.
Download PDF • 176KB

Here are the slides that I used to introduce the books:

Book Introduction
Download PPTX • 364KB

Since I have 5 preps this year, I hoped that some of my classes would vote on the same book, and I lucked out with my 9 & 10 reading classes opting for the same book: The Poet X. Phew.

If you have not read The Poet X yet, order it right now!! Elizabeth Acevedo creates stories for kids who often feel left out, who feel that literature does not represent them. Acevedo came to our school last year to talk about her writing, and my class of freshmen sat still for 45+ minutes listening to her speak. The kids will see themselves in her books. In The Poet X, Xiomara, a Dominican-American teen from Harlem, is trying to figure out who she is. She wants to join the school spoken word poetry club but cannot due to her very strict and very religious mother. She wants to date. She wants to dream. This is the story of Xiomara taking the steps to become who she wants to be.

Whenever I teach a book in my reading classes, I follow the

"Before/During/After" (B/D/A) format that I learned in grad school to prep kids to read a passage.

  • Before: Activate background knowledge, pre-teach vocabulary, introduce big ideas

  • During: Have kids doing something while reading

  • After: Do something that helps kids process the text and that also helps you check for comprehension: connect back to the opening activities, write, whatever...just have them do something to process.

I think it's a simple and handy tool to use to remind myself of the work I need to do in order to set up struggling readers for success with a text.

Steps to Teach the Opening of Poet X

Here is how I started The Poet X. I wanted to lay the groundwork for bigger ideas such as “adolescent needs,” but I also just needed to explain the structure of the text and introduce the characters.

Step 1: We started by reading the opening page together and talking about the structure and language. Poet X is a novel in verse, so although students can turn pages quickly, they still need a bit of a tutorial on the format. If you say that “each page is a poem,” they also freak out, because think poetry is a special kind of tool to torture I usually say, very quickly, that “it’sanovelinversesoeverypageisapoembutifyoulistentoitandnotgethungupontheformat, youwill hearthestory.” And then I hit the play button on the audiobook and play the first page for them before the kids can get hung up on the word “poem”

I usually check out the audiobook from my school library or my county library, and if I can’t do that I buy my own through Audible. The professional recordings are so beautiful and I usually don’t regret the money even though I really try to not spend my own money* on classroom supplies (*because we shouldn’t have to spend our own money on the best tools for the classroom…*)

Sometimes I read the opening passage myself, but I butcher the Spanish and I don’t think I do the story justice. On the other hand, many kids enjoy hearing the teacher make mistakes and feeling insecure while reading, so it’s a good way to build empathy.

Step 2: The Poet X has a lot of Spanish in it, so after we read the opening page, I talked to them about how to deal with the words (Spanish or English) that they do not understand.

I tell them to-

  • skip them. If they understand the story, they can just skip over the word and not read it

  • use context clues

  • use cognates

  • Google it

Step 3: Then I played the opening passage one more time and asked basic comprehension questions:

  • Where does Xiomara live?

  • What does the main character see and hear in this passage?

  • What do we learn about the main character?

  • The beginning of any good book should introduce a conflict. Can you identify any conflicts yet? What evidence do you have?

Step 4. I repeated the above process for the first five chapters (“Stoop Sitting”- “First Words”). I played the chapters out loud one at a time and then asked the questions in Step 3 after each chapter.

Step 5: Once I felt the kids had established a small foothold on the story, I introduced some of the bigger ideas that I wanted them to think about. I did a little research and found some websites with information on teenage development and then I took that information and made a very rough introductory PowerPoint. I asked kids to take notes on looseleaf while I was talking, but since they are virtual. I have no idea if they did. During a normal school year, I would make them a note taking guide, but we are not allowed to ask them to print anything so I just lectured and hoped they took notes or partially listened. The PowerPoints and all class materials get posted on Canvas so that they can access the information if they need it at any point. Anyway, while studying the Poet X, I want students thinking about teenage development as well as health relationships (which we get to later.)

So first I used this PowerPoint to lecture:

Adolescent Needs
Download PPTX • 793KB

This Powerpoint has information from these websites, along with some other general knowledge:

Step 6: After lecturing, I have them listen to "Stoop-Sitting" through "Mami, I Say to Her on the Way Home" and in a paragraph,

  • Identify 2 needs that are not getting met.

  • Identify needs that are getting met.

...and that is how I get kids started with The Poet X. I am not the most creative teacher, but I am certainly practical and comprehension driven! I also care a lot about engagement and checking often for understanding and attention.

Lessons for Part 1 The Poet X

To start Part 1 of The Poet X, I asked kids to write a short paragraph about the meaning of their name, since there is a chapter dedicated to the meaning of Xiomara’s name. This assignment would also work well with The House on Mango Street, as there is a small section where Esperanza talks about what her name means in English and in Spanish.

Here is the assignment sheet: Name paper

Poet X Name Paper
Download DOCX • 116KB

I leave concrete, extension assignments for students to do as homework (aka the “name paper,” etc), because they are fun, interesting, and help the kids connect to the book, but I do not assign work for homework that is absolutely necessary for the next day’s lesson.

Below covers more of what I did for Part 1 of The Poet X. The page chunks below are arbitrary; this is what I could cover in a class period with opening and closing activities.

“When You’re Born to Old Parents” (18) to “Final Draft of Assignment” (41)


I started the lesson for this section by reviewing the last class with a quick Q & A and writing the answers up on the digital whiteboard.

  • What is the setting?

  • Who are the main characters?

  • What is the main conflict?

  • What do teenagers need to be happy?

After the opening Q & A, I asked the kids to find the PowerPoint about adolescent needs, which I posted on Canvas (our online warehouse), and look through it for 2-3 minutes.

Once they have reviewed the PowerPoint, I asked them to write in their journal for 10 minutes in response to the following prompt:

Prompt: In your journal, write for 10 minutes about which needs are and are not met in your own life. I didn’t have kids share out responses when they finished, but instead ask them to take a minute to quietly think about the ways in which they did or did not connect to Xiomara.

In a bid to bolster independence, I then asked the kids to read pages 18-27 on their own ( "When You Are Born to Old Parents" through “Rumor Has It”) I then had them fill in this character chart about Mami, which I felt they could handle on their own. After the chart they had to write a paragraph about why Mami was so strict.

Mami & Papi Character Chart

Mami & Papi Character Chart
Download DOCX • 272KB

This is as much as my kids could get done in a lesson. They finished the chart and paragraph for homework.

"First Confirmation Class" - "Caridad & I Shouldn't be Friends"


To start this lesson, I asked the kids to share out what they wrote in their character charts and to share out their ideas about Mami.

At this point, I felt the students had a good grasp of the start of the story so I started to get into the language of the book a bit. I focused specifically on metaphors for this lesson and presented this information to the students. I asked them to take some notes in their English notebook, but since we are virtual, I have no idea if they did or not.

Poet X Metaphor PowerPoint

Poet X Metaphor
Download PPTX • 1.15MB

After the metaphor PowerPoint, I had students listen to "First Confirmation Class" through "Caridad & I Shouldn't be Friends.” I stopped whenever there was a metaphor and talked through it with the kids. If I was on my game I would have made a chart, but...that will be a task for next year!

For homework, I had students extend the lesson by completing the “religion and metaphor” assignment below. I asked them to think about their own religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and create a metaphor to summarize it. This was actually pretty tough for the kids and most of them needed a bit of help coming up with their metaphor.

Here is the handout with the prompt:

Poet X Religion & Metaphor Paper
Download DOCX • 82KB

"Questions I Have"-"Final Draft of Assignment"


Because we are virtual, I usually start with an icebreaker. I have not posted most of them in my blogs about The Poet X because they are pretty general, but every once in a while I connect the icebreaker to the text, which always made me feel like Super Teacher. Since I taught this book early in the year, I ended up doing icebreakers at the start of most lessons. Today’s opening isn’t really an icebreaker but it helped me learn a bit about each kid’s current mood.

I started by asking the kids to create a simile where they compared being a teenager to an object. I had to review simile quickly (and I would go over it later in the lesson), but a brief verbal review with the sentence starter below was enough to get them started.

Prompt: Being a teenager is like _____________________ because_____________

After the opening simile creation, I had students complete these Kahoots to review characters and plot events: Kahoot 1, Kahoot 2

After the Kahoot, I went through this PowerPoint in order to review metaphors and reintroduce similes.

Similes vs. Metaphors PowerPoint

Poet X Similes vs. Metaphors
Download PPTX • 156KB

For the next chunk of pages, ("Questions I Have" -"Final Draft of Assignment"), I asked students to listen for similes and metaphors, and then I played the pages out loud.

After the read aloud, I asked students to complete this simile and metaphor chart.

Poet X Similes & Metaphor Chart
Download DOCX • 8KB

Listen to "Routine" through "All Over a Damn Wafer"


For this chunk of pages, I could not figure out what to focus on because there was so much going on. Some of the topics in this section include sibling relationships, sexual harassment, and, Xiomara's relationship with church. Ultimately I decided to leave the big takeaway of the lesson flexible.

At the start of class I asked students to take out a notebook and a piece of paper. I told them that I was going to play the next chunk of pages and that I needed them to write down three down questions and three text-to-self connections. (Most of my kids already knew what a “text”-to “self” connection was but some years I have to explain it.)

After we were done listening to the section, I gave the students a handout to fill out with their questions & connections. I answered the questions on the spot and that was the lesson for the day.

Poet X Questions & Connections Handout

Poet X Questions & Connections
Download DOCX • 91KB

"The Flyer" to "Asylum"


This lesson started with an icebreaker where I asked each student to share out an answer to one of the following questions: Icebreaker: What club do you wish we had at our school? Or, which extra curricular activity do we have that you really like?

I asked students this question because we were about to start the part of the book where Xiomara first notices the flyer for the Spoken Word Poetry Club.

Before I played the book for the kids though, I had them watch this amazing slam so that they could understand what Spoken Word Poetry is. *Warning: Language* I would only show this to my high schoolers..

Title of poem: "Monster"

I did not follow up with this poem or do more than a cursory discussion about it, but I think this is an area that is ripe for development next year.

I finished the lesson by:

-Going over “asylum” and what it means (but I would like to develop more next year)

-Answering questions from last lesson

-Having kids listen to pages 67-84 "The Flyer" to "Asylum"

To wrap up Part 1 of The Poet X, I simply had the kids listen to the last few pages and then complete the Part 1 reading check. The reading check was just a list of short answer questions, BUT it took forever and I should have done the reading checks in small chunks (note 100 to self for next year!)

The Poet X Part 1 Reading Check

Poet X Part 1 Reading Check
Download DOCX • 7KB

If you have any materials for Part 1 of The Poet X that you would like to share with others, please feel free to post in the comments below.

The Poet X Part 2

(Virtual Instruction)

For the second part of The Poet X, I wanted kids to read more of the story on their own. This only worked a little bit, but I was ambitious at the beginning of the part and had them read a bit on their own. Mostly, we ended up listening to it together, stopping to do some small activities along the way. I was really pushing to cover some ground/pages during this part of the story since we moved very slowly with Part 1 (and I could have (should have) moved even slower!)

Day 1

"Smoke Parks" - "What I Didn't Say to Caridad in Confirmation Class"

After doing a review Kahoot of Part 1, I asked the kids to read "Smoke Park" - "What I did not tell Caridad in confirmation class" by themselves, and then complete this small double entry journal:

Poet X Double Entry Journal
Download PDF • 76KB

Day 2

The next day, I warmed up the class by having everyone share out their favorite corny joke. I honestly thought this was an awesome idea, but asking my students to speak out loud is like asking me to stop wearing gold glitter on my nails since I am well past the age of 14 (NOPE). Even though all they had to do was look up a corny joke and recite it, it still took forever. I never let them off the hook, though, because I am a stubborn and literally no one can out-stubborn me, not even a sullen 14-year-old.

After the warm up, we went over some of the vocabulary that would come up in the next section. I put the Poet X Part 2 vocab words in a Nearpod and had the kids draw each word. This activity was hilarious and a much needed salve after the stupid corny joke warm up that only I found fun (but mostly frustrating).

-Vocabulary/term drawings

  • Eve's Apple

  • genesis

  • parable

  • temptation

  • obligated

  • confidentiality

  • solace

After previewing the vocabulary, we listed to listen to next section of The Poet X: "Lectures"-"Answers."

Afterwards I had students summarize the section and use at least 5 of our vocabulary words from today in the summary.

Day 3

For day three, I should have reviewed the previous day’s passage, but I didn’t. (Note to self for next year.)

Instead, I just jumped right in and asked the kids a few questions about biographies, since the section we were going to listen to were about Xiomara’s biography. I asked the kids the following and had one enthusiastic kid (maybe two, if I was lucky) answer:

  • What is a biography?

  • What are the features of a biography?

  • How do you know when something is a biography?

  • What biographies have you read?

We then listened to: "Rough Draft Assignment 2-Last Paragraphs of My Biography" (pages 126 & 127 of book), where Xiomara describes the biography she submitted to her teacher, and then the one she would have really liked to write.

Lastly, in the ultimate act of torture, I asked students to write their biography in five years, either in poetry or prose. Here was the prompt that I posted on Canvas with the requirements:

Prompt: Write the last 4 stanzas of the last two paragraphs of your biography in five years. In other words, think about where you will be in 5 years, and then write about it as if someone else was writing about you.


  • It needs to sound like a biography, like someone else wrote it, so you must use 3rd person.

  • You must write 4 stanzas or two developed paragraphs.

  • Check your capital letters and your periods. Have a teacher check your writing before submitting.

Day 4

I started Day 4 by asking the kids to share out, out loud or in the chat, what they did over break. We had just returned from Thanksgiving break so I wanted to check in. After about two minutes of complete silence only rivaled by Yellowstone in winter, I went through the roster and made the children share out something they did. They mostly slept, ate stuff, and “I don’t know.” Whatever that is.

After the amazing classroom bonding of the warm up, I summarized where we left off in the story since it had been awhile.

My speech: “We left off with Xiomara starting a relationship with Aman, a boy in her science class, and also questioning what she was learning in religion class. Part 2 of the book is all about her relationship with Aman, so before we read anymore, we are going to first learn about the characteristics of a healthy relationship so that we can talk about Aman and Xiomara's relationship.”

After the speech, I asked students to get a sheet of looseleaf so that they could take notes. I had to explain that looseleaf was actual line paper and NOTES were things that you wrote down on the paper. I asked students to do the following:

Task: Read this website and on your looseleaf, write down the "7 C's" of a healthy relationship. Write down a few words explaining each. You will either submit your notes on Canvas by taking a picture of them and uploading them or sharing your screen and showing them to us.

I gave the kids 15 minutes to complete the task, but it took the whole period because, in reality, I was like “Okay! You have 15 minutes to complete the task. Do you have any questions? Ask me questions!! What questions do you have?” *No questions* and then after the 15 minutes, I was like “Okay! Submit those notes!”...and then that’s what the kids turned on their mic to be like “Wait what are we doing....?” So basically after banging my head on my keyboard for 40 minutes, we (my co teacher and I), got all the kids sorted away and notes submitted.

Day 5

"Talking Church"-"At My Train Stop"

Today we began class by reviewing the “7 C’s of a Healthy Relationship” by completing a matching activity in a Nearpod, and I explained the assignment that they would have to do after reading/listening to the next section.

We then listened to " "Talking Church"-"At My Train Stop" with the Audible version of The Poet X.

For the closing activity, I asked students to fill in this chart:

Xiomara, Aman, and the 7C's
Download PDF • 51KB

Day 6

Before today’s reading, I said the following to the kids: "The author has been dropping a lot of hints about Twin and stuff that is going on with him at school. Listen for clues about Twin and after today's reading I will ask you why you think Twin has a black eye.”

We then listened to the next chunk of pages, "What I Don't Tell Aman" through "Braiding."

To close, I had the kids fill in a Google form with their guess about what was going on with Twin at school. I cannot find my original form, but basically I made a Google form and asked the students for their name and for a prediction about what was going on in Twin's life.

Day 7

Today I opened the lesson by having everyone share out guesses about Twin. Even though it is usually hard for me to get to kids to talk, they were pretty good about jumping in for this question. They had a few different ideas so it was a fun way to build anticipation for today’s reading.

Next. we listed to just enough pages to figure out what was going on with Twin at school and how Xiomara felt about it ("Fights"-"Feeling Off When Twin is Mad")

I then showed the students the GLADD website and looked through it with them. We specifically looks at some of the resources on how to be an ally, and I told them to use that advice to give Xiomara advice on how to handle what she just learned about Twin. The assignment sheet is here:

Text to Xiomara
Download PDF • 41KB

Day 8

My notes from this day say “I was not exactly sure what to do with this section,” so I ended up just having the kids listen to a big chunk of the book, make a prediction, and they played enough for the kids to see if their predictions came true. It is actually a confusing section because Xiomara is getting punished but it’s written in a way that is hard for kids to follow right off the bat. Next year I will probably focus this lesson on helping kids to comprehend what’s going on in the passage.

This year, I played the audiobook from "Rough Draft of Assignment 3" - "This Body on Fire."

Then I stopped the audiobook and on a Google form, which I linked in the chat, I asked the students to “predict how Mami will react when she finds out about Aman.”

I tried to stop the lesson there but the kids didn’t want to leave on a cliffhanger (music to MY ears!), so we kept going and listened for a while...basically through to the end of Xiomara’s punishment. ("The Shit & The Fan" - "The Last Thing You Think..."

Day 9

Finish Part 2 of The Poet X

We began this day by reviewing the 7C's of a healthy relationship. To do this, I asked kids to use Google draw or another comic tool, and draw a comic that showed their understanding of their assigned 7C. They then had to put it on a class Google Presentation with their name.

7C's of a Healthy Relationship
Download PPTX • 51KB

For me, this particular lesson was on the last day before Christmas break, so I wanted to wrap up Part 2 before everyone went home for two weeks.

I had the students finish listening to Part 2 of The Poet X, and then I had them Respond to one question on our class discussion board (on Canvas) in 3-4 sentences.

Discussion Board Questions & Directions:

1. Why did Xiomara get mad at Aman and Was it right for Xiomara to get mad at Aman? Explain your answer.

2. Which of the 7C's is missing from Xiomara and Aman's relationship, Xiomara & Twin's relationship, or Xiomara and Caridad's relationship right now? Explain your answer.

The 7Cs of a Healthy Relationship Noteta
Download • 40KB

3. How did you feel about Mami's response to catching Xiomara kissing Aman? Is her punishment fair? How do you think Mami should have reacted instead?

After posting their initial answer, they had to respond to 1 peer by developing their idea with another example or detail from the story.

No: I agree

YES: I agree because early in the story, Xiomara said that...blah blah blah.

This was a fun way to wrap everything before break and gave us a starting point for when we returned.

If you have any materials for Part 2 of The Poet X that you would like to share with others, please feel free to post in the comments below.

Lessons for Part 3 of The Poet X.

Day 1

Because my timing was so off this year, I didn’t get to finish all of The Poet X before winter break, so I wrapped up part 2 of The Poet X before winter break and then had to restart the book when we returned. I knew we would have to do a thorough review before moving forward so I dragged the kids through this Nearpod. (These are the original Google slides so that you can copy & edit).

Day 2

“Silent World” to “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”

Today I started by asking kids to recall what we did last class and to review some of the characters and plot twists in their mind, and then we started listening to part three of The Poet X. I played them a BUNCH of pages (at least 30), and at the time, I was concerned that it was too much, but it was fine. We listened to “Silent World” to “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and then completed this visual collage where students had to identify five important moments for the day’s reading, choose images to represent them, and then label them. After I gave them the directions, some kids got it and then others needed a template so I made them this.

Day 3

"Isabelle” through "The Mic is Open"

For today’s opening/icebreaker, my co-teacher and I asked the kids to put the name of a club they are part of or that they would like to join in the chat. The prompt specifically was: “What clubs are you a part of at school, and if you are not part of a club, what club do you wish we had at school?”

We asked them this because in Part 3, Xiomara finally decides to attend poetry club, where she meets some new characters. I used these slides to briefly introduce the characters to my students.

We then listened to pages "Isabelle" through "The Mic is Open" (255-280 in the book).

For the post-reading activity, I asked kids to complete a journal on Canvas. This was the prompt I used:

Choose 1 and respond in at least 100-150 words:

  • What is something that you would like to do or try? What is preventing you from doing it? How does this connect to Xiomara?

  • What is something that you waited a long time to try/do and then actually accomplished? How did it feel? How does this connect to Xiomara?

Day 4

“Invitation”- “The Waiting Game”

Today we started with “Character Bingo” to review the characters thus far. If I was on top of my game (which I am not), I would have made the Bingo chart for the kids (but I didn’t). This year, I gave the kids the list of characters in The Poet X, told them to sloppily draw a 5 x 5 grid on a sheet of scrap paper, and fill the character names in the blanks. After about 35 minutes, everyone was ready to go.

To play, I would describe a character from the book, and then the kids would have to cross off the name of the character that they thought I was referring to. Whomever got Bingo first had to read out their answers so that we could check and review. The winner got bonus points on the next quiz. I would post notes for you to use, but I must have done this all off the top of my head because I have no other notes on my unit plan other than “play character bingo.” I guess I was having a tired week.

After character Bingo, we listened to “Invitation” - “The Waiting Game”

-Once we listened to the section, I asked the kids to write their own concrete poem about something that makes them very happy. Here were the directions:

  • Get a sheet of scrap paper

  • Create a concrete poem about something that makes you happy. The poem should be about why the thing makes you happy.

  • Take a picture of your concrete poem and submit it to Canvas.

When they didn’t respond, I quickly drew a poem about dogs in the shape of a “dog” and held it up to the camera. Even though the kids wanted to pretend they hadn’t heard me assign this, they completed it and I got some of my favorite responses of the year.

Day 5

“The Good”- “My Mother Tries to Grab Me”

To start today’s lesson, I had the students write about a what a good day at school looks like. I gave them 10 minutes to write and submit to Canvas. They did not have to worry about punctuation or anything else.

In the next section of The Poet X, Xiomara is feeling good, and as a reader, you just feel that something bad is about to happen. I wanted to tune the kids into this, so before we started reading, I asked them to predict what might go wrong. I created a brief Google form with two questions:

  • What is your name?

  • What is one bad thing that you predict will happen next?

Once everyone submitted on the Google form, I played the next set of pages: “The Good”- “My Mother Tries to Grab Me”

At the end of the section, Xiomara leaves home. I stopped the audiobook here and asked the kids to fill in another Google form with two questions:

  • What is your name?

  • Who do you think Xiomara will reach out to when she leaves her apt? Why?

It wasn’t my best lesson but it got me through the day and the predictions helped to create some curiosity in the kids.

Day 6

"Returning" to "What I Say to Ms. Galiano"

To connect to the end of last class’s lesson, I started off by having the kids complete a journal about leaving home. Here was the prompt:

Journal: If you decided to leave your house after a big fight, who would you call? Where would you go? Why would you go to this person/place? (100 words)

I did not have the kids share out their journals, as it seemed too personal of a topic, but I wanted to have them do it so that they could connect to Xiomara in the next scene, when Xiomara leaves home and reaches out to a few people to help her. The section we listened to today was "Returning" to "What I Say to Ms. Galiano"

I had the kids complete a “3-2-1” activity after the reading, which is when, after reading, kids list three things they found out, two things they thought were interesting and one question they still had. I don’t recommend this activity because it was not a concrete enough and the kids didn’t do well with it.

Day 7-Start Building Up to the Ending

At this point, we were finally homing in on the end of the book, but there was still a lot to talk about and it took a few more lessons to get across the finish line. Today was a “setup” day, where I tried to build background knowledge before getting into the last section of reading.

We started with the obligatory icebreaker for the day, which was for the kids to rate their weekend from 1-10 and share out why .

Then I moved on to the pre-reading lesson, which was focused on how to have a conversation with a parent that you don’t get along with. I focused on this because I wanted to give the kids some real world skills, and I wanted to give them a framework for analysis for the upcoming section of reading.

I started the lecture by just asking them what they thought were some ways in which a person could go about having a conversation with a difficult parent and had them post on the Nearpod discussion board.

After that, I prompted the kids to listen as I briefly lectured and went through the rest of the slides on the Nearpod. I asked them to pay attention to tips that might be helpful for Xiomara.

Once I finished lecturing, we listened to the chapters “Going Home”- “Stronger” and I asked the kids to look for the techniques that Xiomara used to talk to her parents.

For the “after” reading activity, I asked kids to fill in this handout about how Xiomara talked to her parents and then write a paragraph summarizing their observations.

Day 8

At this point, I got super ambitious. I wanted my self-contained kids to do some of the higher level stuff that my AP kids were doing. I knew it would be hard for them because they haven’t had a lot of exposure to literary analysis, but I wanted to give them that chance and at least introduce them to the process.

This was my first attempt, with this book, in breaking down the analysis, and it was OK, but next year I will try to break this down into even smaller steps.

I started by teaching the literary devices that I wanted to focus on: repetition, anaphora, simile, imagery, and metaphor. I wanted to give the kids some softballs that would be easy for them to find in the text. I used this very hastily put together PowerPoint. In the past, every time I taught devices, I would make a nice PowerPoint and then lose track of it, so basically now I just slap a new one together every time. It takes two seconds and serves its purpose and I don’t have to spend too much time on it.)

After my lecture, we listened to the ending of the story and I ran out of time for the day, but I didn’t feel too bad about it because I knew this would be the first of a few readings of the ending.

Day 9

Analysis of Ending

We started today by playing a Kahoot in order to review the devices that I wanted to focus on (metaphor, simile, anaphora, repetition, and personification). This is the link to the Poet X Last Page Kahoot.

Next, I asked the kids to identify these devices on the last page of The Poet X, but I had them do it together on a Jamboard so that they could work together. I took a screenshot of the text and uploaded it to the Jamboard, and then I showed kids how to annotate it using the annotation tools. Jamboard is defunct now, but since we are back at school you could do this lesson on a Smartboard or overhead projector.

After working on the jamboard together, I asked kids to complete this Poet X Last Page Analysis by themselves, where they basically chose a line, and a device and talked about the effect it had in the story.

Day 10

Start Writing

Everything went crazy at this point because I got the genius idea to give the kids a menu of writing options, but because I had not taught this book before, I didn’t have any templates or outlines to use for the prompts, and I had to try and walk the kids through that stuff from scratch. It didn’t really work. The note that I left to myself on my unit plan was “DO NOT DO THIS AGAIN. START WITH ONE PROMPT, BUILD UP THE MATERIALS, AND THEN ADD MORE PROMPTS.” So, you can take this advice or do what I do and ignore it. I liked giving the kids options and my coteacher and I just ended up walking everyone individually through the process, but it wasn’t great. We only managed to swing it because we have very small class of 10 kids. I tried to do this same thing with my class of 28 and it didn’t work .

But the last few days of the unit, in general, were mini lectures about the writing process, followed by time to write and conference. I also threw in some examples of slam poetry just to make the start of the lesson a bit more interesting before I jumped into my lectures. Here are writing prompts for The Poet X.

Day 11

The last thing I do before wrapping up a unit is give kids an easy comprehension test to see if they caught the major events and characters in the book. If they don't do well, I know to skip the book for next or teach it in a different way. A 49-question test is available for sale in my TpT store.

I hope some of these free Poet X unit materials are useful to you!

Next Time

I think one of my big misses in this unit was not exposing my kids to more slam poetry throughout, especially by Acevedo and amazing teenagers the same age as my students. So, I know that next year, if I get to teach this book again, I will most likely change a lot but I will definitely work to incorporate more slam poetry.

Here’s one to check out: “Afro-Latina” by Elizabeth Acevedo:

Related Items:

Other Great YA Books Connect to The Poet X

I have come across a few great books that connect to The Poet X. My kids enjoyed reading this novel-in-verse during virtual learning and I am always looking for books with similar characters to feed to the students who enjoyed The Poet X.

The list below is just a start and I will add more as I come across them.


by Yamile Saied Méndez

I had trouble with the opening, but once I got my bearings, I spent the next few nights with a popcorn bowl and this book. Determined to get a shot at being a professional soccer player, Argentinian teenager Camila Hassan has to defy her parents to attend practices and play on a championship team. Very similar to Xiomara, she knows what she wants, but due to her parents' and her society's ideas about what women should and should not be able to do, she has to play in secret despite her immense talent. To make matters worse, her brother and her crush are both getting a shot at the big time, while she is expected to play the role of a good girl. As she gets closer and closer to her dreams, you, too, will be shoveling popcorn down your face while waiting to see what happens.

I plan on pitching this book to some of my female students who love to watch and play soccer.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

by Erika L. Sanchez

Speaking of daughters who do not listen, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter would be another great connection to The Poet X. Julia Reyes has just lost her sister, and this haunts her because her sister, or so she thinks, WAS the perfect Mexican daughter. Julia is far from it. She is smart and wants to go to college and wants nothing to do with getting older and living with her parents (like a perfect Mexican daughter). As Julia tries to work through her grief, wandering many miles around Chicago, she starts to learn that maybe her sister was not as perfect as she thought....

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

In Clap When You Land, a plane crash reveals the hidden life of a father who had a family in the Bronx and a family in the Dominican Republic. In each family, there is a stubborn teenage daughter who does not know about her sister. As the story progresses, the secret unravels until both of his daughters decide to take action. Although I enjoyed The Poet X and With the Fire on High, this is my favorite Acevedo book so far.

Feel free to leave your suggestions & connections in the comments section!!

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Ruby Bhaijee
Ruby Bhaijee
Jan 22, 2022

Hello and thank you for sharing your resources! There are several highly engaging videos on youtube featuring Ms. Acevedo that I use as part of my intro to The Poet X that are also a great place to start. I've also found success with reviewing poetic devices through popular songs prior to starting our reading.

Erica Margaret
Erica Margaret
Jul 12, 2022
Replying to

Thank you so much! One of my big "duh" moments at the end of the book was realizing that I did not show enough videos of Acevedo performing. She's very engaging.

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