Refugee Voices

Grades: 
9, 10, 11, 12

Students listen to the voices of refugees in the words of a poem by W. H. Auden. They explore the poetic imagery and then write their own poem using voice, imagery, and rhyme. They may use what they have learned and created in this unit to organize a service project in which they advocate for refugees by educating people about their experience.

Lesson Rating 
0
Duration 
PrintOne 45-Minute Session, plus time to plan and carry out a service project
Objectives 

The learner will:

  • analyze the refugee experience through poetry.
  • write reflectively and creatively on the topic of refugees.
  • organize a service project in which they advocate for refugees.
Materials 
  • printout for each students of "Refugee Blues"by W. H.Auden https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/refugee-blues/
  • student copies of either Handout One or Two, depending on the ability of the students
  • student copies of Handout Three: Exploring the Refugee Experience through Poetry
Vocabulary 

refugee: someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group; a refugee either cannot return home or is afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.

Reflection 

Have students think of an object (bring it from home, if possible) to use as a metaphor for the service experience. Ask them to reflect on what they did and the impact it made as they compare the service experience to the characteristics of the object.  For example, "The service project is like an apple because on the outside it was a polished presentation, but at its core was our goal of communicating about the refugee experience."

Bibliography 

Instructions

Print
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Read aloud the poem "Refugee Blues" by W. H. Auden. Discuss the vocabulary words in the poem after the first reading. Read at least once aloud to the class and then have the students read it quietly to themselves in a "1-foot voice." Then circulate through the class, with each student or groupreading a stanza aloud.

  2. Have students answer the questions about the poem on either handout one or two. Handout one includes more open-ended questions for more advanced students. Handout Two includes more specific, guiding questions for students who may struggle with interpreting poetry. You can gauge your class and give all students the same one or differentiate based on readiness level and assign different worksheets to different students. They will notice the same elements of the poem, just in different ways.

  3. Depending on the level of your students and their knowledge of poetry terms and techniques, you may want to do a review of poetic structure and devices, focusing especially on repetition, rhythm, voice, and symbolism.

  4. Review the elements of the poem that students noticed and discuss based upon comments and questions from the students.

  5. Explain that students will be using the Auden poem as a model for writing their own poems about the experience of a refugee. Distribute Handout Three: Exploring the Refugee Experience through Poetry. Students should work on the poem in class and/or for homework, depending on the level of support that they need. Teacher note: modify and adapt the poem guidelines to differentiate for student ability.

  6. When the poems are finished, students should share them with the class.

    • Accommodation: For students who may struggle with writing their own individual poem, you can create partners/groups or write a poem collaboratively as a class (this would work best in a very small class).
  7. For a service project, guide students as they organize an assembly or forum at their school with the purpose of educating the greater community about refugees, human rights, and the work of UNHCR. Students could put together a presentation that shares the information they have learned from the video(s) and readings, as well as share their skits and poetry in a performance.

Assessment 

Students’ skills and knowledge should be evaluated based on completion and accuracy of Handout One or Two: Refugee Blues. They will also be assessed on their participation in the discussion of the poem and adherence to the guidelines for their own poems, including use of poetic devices.

Cross Curriculum 

For a service project, help students organize an assembly or forum at their school with the purpose of educating the greater community about refugees, human rights, and the work of UNHCR. Students could put together a presentation that shares the information they have learned from the video(s) and readings, as well as share their skits and poetry in a performance.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.