Chicana Learns Survival From The "TMNT"

by Karla Cordero

Photo by Arlene Mejorado

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: TMNT

Step 1

Ask your students, “Which fictional character(s) did you pretend to be or wish you could be when you were little? Why?” Then have them discuss.

Step 2

Read “Chicana Learns Survival From The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” by Karla Cordero. When you’re done, briefly discuss the poem. Why does the speaker draw comparisons between themselves and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? How do they help them “survive”?

Step 3

Say, “Think of one of those characters whom you wanted to be like when you were younger. Then jot down a list of qualities they possessed that you, too, wished you had. Do a deep dive and try to think of the reasons why you wanted them, too.” Then give your students a few minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Ask your students to compose a poem similar in sentiment to “Chicana Learns Survival From the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in which they describe their desire to be a fictional character.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one.

Step 2

Start by watching the trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

Step 3

When the trailer is over, ask your students why TMNT has been a staple in our culture for nearly forty years. What is their lasting appeal?

Step 4

Read “Chicana Learns Survival From The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” by Karla Cordero. As you are reading, ask your students to pay particular attention to the appeal of TMNT to the speaker of the poem. When you are done, briefly discuss.

Step 5

Ask your students to open the following document and go over the instructions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to draw parallels between the movie poster of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the poem, then discuss how those similarities reflect the attitude of the speaker. When you’ve gone over the directions, give your students time to work.

Step 6

When the students are done, ask a few of them to share their annotated images with the rest of the class. Have your students try to determine how the “hotspots” in the images correlate to the meaning(s) of the poem.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Children / Youth
  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Education Formal / Informal
  • Family
  • History
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Racism or Racial Slurs