I Don't Know...

by Fatimah Asghar

Photo by Cassidy Kristiansen

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: I Don’t Know

Step 1

Ask your students, “What are some things that ‘worry’ you about the future? Some of the things that keep you up at night. And why do these things preoccupy you?” Then give them time to discuss.

Step 2

Read “I Don’t Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What We’ve Done to the Earth” by Fatimah Asghar. When you’re done, briefly discuss what concerns her and how she decides – at least in the poem – to deal with those emotions.

Step 3

Say,  “Take a few minutes to choose one of the things that concerns you about the future, something that you ultimately have no control over. Then come up with a list of ways that you can occupy yourself with healthier and more uplifting thoughts instead. What are some of the things that you are grateful for?” Then give your students 5-10 minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Have your students write a poem similar in sentiment to Fatimah Asghar’s in which they initially share their thoughts of something dark or foreboding but then transition into feelings of optimism and hope.

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: selection of detail, imagery, structure, and tone.

Step 2

Watch the following video, an animated interpretation of Clint Smith’s poem “Ode to the Only Black Kid in the Class.” When it’s done, ask them how they felt the animation helped to reinforce the message of the poem.

Step 3

Read “I Don’t Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What We’ve Done to the Earth” by Fatimah Asghar. Then ask your students, if they were to create an animation similar in style to the one they just watched, what kind of images they would implement and why.

Step 4

Have your students open the following document and go over the introduction and instructions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to have to storyboard an animated rendition and create one similar in style to one you watched as a class.

Step 5

Give your students plenty of time to work on the assignment. It may take them a little while to acclimate themselves with the online animation tool.

Step 6

When your students are done, have them share their final products with each other.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Appreciation
  • Children / Youth
  • Creativity / Imagination / Writing
  • Death / Grief
  • Environment / Environmental Justice
  • Friendship
  • Health / Health Care / Illness
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Philosophy
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Violence

Literary Tags

  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Tone