by Hieu Minh Nguyen

Photo by Soraya Zaman

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Reflection

Step 1

Ask your students, “Have you ever felt uncomfortable with your physique or body image? How exactly did you feel? What made you feel that way? Or have you witnessed somebody you know experience this discomfort?”

*Be sure to let your students know know that they do not have to discuss anything if they don’t feel comfortable doing so. 

Step 2

Read “Heavy” by Hieu Minh Nguyen. When you’re done, briefly discuss the speaker’s feelings toward his body and how he decides to deal with those emotions.

Step 3

Say, “Take some time to think of the emotional weight that you (or somebody you know) had to carry because of the way they felt about their bodies. If you’re writing about yourself, write down everything that went on inside your head that nobody else could see. If you’re writing about somebody else, attempt to capture those same feelings & thoughts.” Then give them some time to brainstorm.

Step 4

Have your students write a poem similar in sentiment to “Heavy” by Hieu Minh Nguyen in which they recount their feelings about their weight or other physical characteristics.

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: Structure

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the general concept of a poem’s “structure,” go through the introductory lesson.

Step 2

Start the lesson by having your students open the following document and go over the introduction and directions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to “predict” the structure of the poem based on the poet’s intent, which is provided for you at the top of the page. Then they will have to explain and/or justify the reasoning behind their structural/organizational choices.

Step 3

Give your students time to work. They may work in groups if they wish.

Step 4

When your students are done, ask some of your students to share their responses. You don’t have to make them read everything that they wrote in their annotations; simply have them read the poem in the order they arranged it and briefly discuss why, as a whole, the poem is organized in that manner.

Step 5

After a few share outs, project the poem (“Heavy” by Hieu Minh Nguyen) on the screen in its original form and read the work aloud. Then have your students discuss how the poet’s arrangement of ideas and concepts work to reinforce their message.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Structure


  • Appreciation
  • Body / Body Image
  • Health / Health Care / Illness
  • Joy
  • Love

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Tone