Dinosaurs in the Hood

by Danez Smith

Photo by Tabia Yapp

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: My Movie

Step 1

Have the students discuss a group of people in movies that they often see who are always misrepresented.

Step 2

Have them read “Dinosaurs in the Hood” by Danez Smith. Then discuss the various ways they feel black people are always misrepresented in movies. Tell them to try to pull specific textual examples.

Step 3

Using one of the larger misrepresentations the group brought up in their earlier conversation, have them write down a list of ways that particular “group” is mischaracterized in movies. Then have them come up with another list that provides “alternatives” portrayals that would better characterize that group of people.

Step 4

Using Smith’s poem as a mentor text, have them write a poem in which they bring up those generalizations and create an “alternative” movie that rectifies those mistakes.

Step 5

When students are done, have them share their responses.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Selection of Detail

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the concept of “selection of detail,” review the introductory lesson.

Step 2

Read the poem “Dinosaurs in the Hood,” paying particular attention to the poet’s larger message and specific details they include to illustrate his point. Then discuss.

Step 3

Have the students pair up and go through the poem and select the details that Smith incorporates that demonstrate the negative stereotypes of black people in film and the details they include that negate that image. The students may work in the following document. Directions are provided at the top of the page.

Step 4

When the students are done, share their responses aloud. If time permits, then read the exemplar essay provided below so they can see if their responses are similar in scope.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Selection of Detail


  • Children / Youth
  • Community / Culture
  • Creativity / Imagination / Writing
  • Death / Grief
  • History
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Violence

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure (Syntax)