by Joseph Green

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Helpless

Step 1

Watch the video embedded in the presentation. Then discuss the overall sentiment, how the poet feels about these experiences. They should arrive at the conclusion that, overall, he feels confused and helpless.

Step 2

Now read through the text of the poem with them and have them find the different parts that illustrate how confused he is. Remind them that confusion usually constitutes a variety of feelings, not just one.

Step 3

Ask your students to think of times when when they felt similarly helpless.

Step 4

Have your students write a poem in which they convey a wide array of emotions in their overall feelings of confusion and helplessness.

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. The prominent literary devices & techniques that this particular poem includes are: tone, figurative language, structure, and diction.

Step 2

Watch the video of the poem “Hands” by Joseph LMS Green. When it is over, briefly discuss how he feels toward the issue he raises. They will have more time to explore the poem and video in a moment.

Step 3

Tell the students that they will be analyzing the poem itself today, but also the technical and stylistic elements of its video. Have them open the following document.

Step 4

Read through the directions with them so they understand what is expected of them for each of the different tasks. Then give them time to work on the assignment.

Step 5

When they are done, go over a few of their takeaways. If time permits, share the exemplar essay with them.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Children / Youth
  • Criminal Justice
  • Death / Grief
  • Family
  • Parenting
  • Police Brutality / Profiling
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Social Movements / Protest
  • Violence

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Structure
  • Tone