Enter the Dragon

by John Murillo

Photo by Marcus Jackson

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: The Shift

Step 1

Have the students think of time when they thought they were “flying high” or were on “top of the world,” but then quickly found themselves on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, either sad, angry, or emotionally distraught.

Step 2

Read John Murillo’s poem “Enter the Dragon,” and explain how quickly his experience soured and why.

Step 3

Tell the students to write a poem of their own in which they chronicle an event in which their mood of elation abruptly shifted to something darker.

Step 4

When the students are done, have them share their responses. Then ask them to reflect upon that experience and determine if it is representative of a larger issue, either personal or societal.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Tone

Step 1

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

Step 2

Show your students the following clip, a brief history of legendary martial artist, Jim Kelly.

Step 3

Read the poem “Enter the Dragon” by John Murillo. While reading, have the students try to determine the significance of that experience – from both the beginning of the evening to the end of it – to the speaker.

Step 4

Ask the students how the tone of the first half of the poem is considerably different than the latter half. Then have them discuss how & why.

Step 5

Tell the students that they will be tracking the tone of the poem – and its shifts – by using colors to group words, concepts, and ideas. The students should complete the assignment in the following document. Directions are provided at the top of the page.

Step 6

When the students are done, have them share their responses. Then show them the exemplar essays to see if their analysis is similar in scope.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Tone


  • Community / Culture
  • Criminal Justice
  • Family
  • Joy
  • Police Brutality / Profiling
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Selection of Detail