Thursday, February 5, 2009

Poetry Break: African American Poetry

Poem: A Lesson from the Deaf

Book: Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes

Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 2006

Introduction: Ask students if they know how people who can't hear "speak." Explain how deaf people use sign language to communicate with others. Tell students that this poem explains how to make the sign for "Thank You" in American Sign Language. Have students listen as you read the poem:

A Lesson from the Deaf
by Nikki Grimes

First, sweep one hand
up to your mouth,
as if to blow a velvet kiss.
Like this.

Second, drop that hand
into the other,
crisscross, open palms staring
at the sky.
Do you see?
How your clever hands
create a butterfly?

(Think of shadows
you shape upon a wall at night.
But this is more than play.)

Stand before someone
who has been kind to you.
Follow steps one and two,
and without breathing a word,
your "thank you" will be heard.


Show students the sign for "thank you." Make the sign together. Re-read the poem and make the "thank you" sign together as it is described throughout the poem. Encourage students to say "thank you" to others in sign language like the last stanza of the poem suggests.

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