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Incredible Bridges: “Peaches” by Adrienne Su

Contents Submitted Level Type

Introduction Jul 11 2016 High School Lesson

(/poetsorg/lesson/incredi Madeleine   (/poetsorg/lesso (/poetsorg/lesso
ble­bridges­ Fuchs Holzer n­plans? n­plans/?
%E2%80%9Cpeaches% (/node/118914) field_level_tid=7 field_type_tid=7
E2%80%9D­adrienne­ 61, 756)  46)
su#node­432551) Middle School
Common Core State Standards (/poetsorg/lesso
(/poetsorg/lesson/incredi n­plans?
ble­bridges­ field_level_tid=7
%E2%80%9Cpeaches% 61, 756)
Before Listening to the Audio and
Reading the Poem
Adrienne Su Reads “Peaches”
Reading the Poem and Listening to
the Poet
After Listening and Reading
Creating Deeper Meaning

This lesson plan is part of the series “Incredible Bridges: Poets Creating Community," a
project developed by the Academy of American Poets in partnership with EDSITEment
(, the educational website of the National Endowment for the Humanities (http://www.neh.g
(NEH), during the NEH’s 50th anniversary year-long celebration.

Funded by the NEH, “Incredible Bridges” responds to the NEH’s initiative The Common Good: The Humanities in the P
Square, which seeks to demonstrate and enhance the role of the humanities in public life.


It is very common in the United States when meeting a new person to ask them “Where are you from originally?” In he
“Peaches,” (/poetsorg/poem/peaches) Adrienne Su (/poetsorg/poet/adrienne-su), a Chinese American who grew up in t
state of Georgia, sheds light on the complexity of answering that question when you are both “stranger and native.” T
poem reflects upon the complex identities many Americans grapple with—a critical factor to consider as our nation
continues to evolve into a twenty-first-century American community characterized by wide diversity.

The following sequence of activities is designed to help students think about the connections between food and identit
Adrienne Su evokes in her poem. The activities also seek to level the playing field among diverse learners, by including
multiple ways to enter, experience, and explore the meaning of the poem. Feel free to adjust the activities to meet the
particular learning styles and needs of your students.

A Note about Vocabulary

Ask your students to keep a running list on the front board of the words they read and hear, but do not understand. Y
either conduct a separate vocabulary lesson about these words during which students try to figure out their meaning
context and connections, or review the vocabulary as you progress through the other activities.

Learning Objectives

Students will identify how food is representative of culture in different ways and express that through original poet
Students will explore a poet’s use of sensory imagery and rhyme scheme to bring a poem to life.
Students will empathize with Americans whose families have come to this country as immigrants and identify as bo
“stranger and native.”
Students will generate their own questions to further explore the meaning of the poem.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.3 (
Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for
meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.5 (
Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a se
chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

Curriculum Connections

English Language Arts

Before Listening to the Audio and Reading the Poem

Tell your students they will be studying the poem “Peaches” (/poetsorg/poem/peaches) by Adrienne Su
(/poetsorg/poet/adrienne-su), and that, before reading the poem, they will engage in some activities that will help them
understand the poem better.

Activity 1: Whip Around Warm-Up

Objective: Students will begin to think about the symbolic nature of food in different cultures.

Ask your students to think of a food that is representative of their culture in some way. Quickly go around the room a
each student to call out their food and where they or their ancestors are from. If a particular student needs more tim
can pass, and you can come back to them after every other student has had a turn.

Activity 2: Small-Group Work

Objective: Students will make a connection between a food and how it is stored, prepared, or eaten in their family.

Ask your students to quick write down as many associations they have with the food they mentioned in the whip ar
These associations can include things such as how the food is bought, when it is eaten, with whom it is eaten, any h
of the food, etc.
Have your students get into small groups to share their foods and their lists with one another. Have them ask one
another questions about the food, so they can add more detail to what they have written.

Activity 3: Whole-Class Discussion

Objective: Students will discuss the significance of food and how it is obtained, prepared and eaten in their homes.

Conduct a whole-class discussion around the question: What is the significance of how food is obtained, prepared, and
in different cultures? Make sure your students use details from their small group discussions to support their answer

Adrienne Su Reads “Peaches”

Academy of American Poets
Adrienne Su: "Peaches"

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Reading the Poem and Listening to the Poet

Activity 1: Reading the Poem

Objective: Students will identify words, images, and phrases that jump out at them in the poem, as well as the placem
the words on the page

Project the poem “Peaches” (/poetsorg/poem/peaches) from (/)

Ask your students to read the poem silently. As they read, they should write down the words, images, phrases, and
placement that they notice.
If your class size allows for it, select nine student volunteers to read the poem aloud, one for each stanza (see the
definition of stanza (/poetsorg/text/stanza-poets-glossary) on (/)). Ask the listening students to close th
eyes and listen to the rhythm and the words.
Again, if your class size allows, select another nine student volunteers to read the poem aloud, one for each stanza
time, ask the listening students to listen for new and different things that jump out at them. They should write the

Activity 2: Listening to Adrienne Su Read “Peaches”

Objective: Students will notice the difference between reading a poem on a page and experiencing a poet reading her

Tell your students that when they listen to the audio (, the
record what they notice when Adrienne Su reads her poem. Ask them to pay close attention to the emphasis Su pl
on different words and phrases. Do they hear anything differently now? Make sure they record their new perceptio
with their other notes.
Play the audio of Adrienne Su ( reading her poem.

After Listening and Reading

Activity 1: Generating Questions

Objective: Students will generate questions about the poem “Peaches” (/poetsorg/poem/peaches) after listening to a
reading the poem.

Ask your students to get back in their small groups. Have them look carefully at the words, phrases, and structura
elements in the poem that are on their lists and use them to create questions that will help them understand the p
better. Ask each student to share their questions with the other members of the group. Ask the group to brainsto
answers to each person’s questions.
Have each group select one question they would like to present to the whole class for more discussion.

Activity 2: Whole-Class Discussion

Objective: Students will brainstorm answers to questions about the poem “Peaches.”

Ask the representative from each small group to present the one question they would like to brainstorm with the
class. Write the questions on the front board with the students’ responses.
After the questions are written down, ask your students to look at their lists of details from the poem to see how
can help answer the questions they still have.

Additional Questions for Discussion:

(If your students have not raised the following questions on their own, you can add these to further their discussion an
exploration of the poem’s meaning.)
Describe the ways peaches relate to being Chinese in Adrienne Su’s home.
Can a rhyme scheme be identified within each four-line stanza? (If your students are not familiar with rhyme schem
introduce or review the definition of slant rhyme (/poetsorg/onteaching/poetry-glossary) under Poetic Devices in P
Glossary on (/)).
The last two stanzas in the poem seem to focus on something other than food and home. What is it?
How does Su describe “typical immigrants’ children? Based on your own life experience, or another’s life experienc
you agree with this description?
What does Su mean by “the odd perplexing question?”

At this time, you can also introduce the idea of a “turn” in poetry, also referred to as a volta (a sudden change in thoug
direction, or emotion near the conclusion of a poem). Have students consider how Adrienne Su uses a “turn” in this po


Ask your students to write a poem that starts talking about a significant food in their family using a number of four-lin
stanzas that include slant rhyme. Their poem should:

use appropriate details

use connections they have made from the food to other aspects of their culture (see Section 1, Activity 2)
allow their imaginations to take them from a description of the food to an important other aspect of their lives

With your students, develop an evaluation tool for their work using the terms exemplary, proficient, developing, and ba
What, do they (and you) think are the basic characteristics of an exemplary poem (or essay) that starts discussing a fo
connects to other important aspects of a family’s life? A proficient one? One that is developing or basic? Remind them
include items such as vivid details, slant rhyme, four line stanzas, and turns.

Creating Deeper Meaning

1. Explore the importance of peaches in Chinese history by having your students do research on the subject. One po
source is an article on longevity in Chinese culture ( availab
the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (
museum-arts-heilbrunn-timeline-art-history) in which the peach is discussed. What other fruits and vegetables are
indigenous to China?

2. What fruits and vegetables are indigenous to the countries from which your students or their ancestors came? Wh
ones can grow here? Which ones can they get only in the country from which they, or their ancestors, came?

3. Have your students write a short story about someone who is the child of immigrants and some of the adjustment
child has to make in her new home.

4. Invite the school community, including the students’ parents, to an international feast where your students read th
poetry and short stories, as well as bring an important family food for all to share.

5. Create an anthology of your students’ poems and stories.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this lesson plan do not necessarily represent those
National Endowment for the Humanities.

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