Lines Breaking

by José Gonzalez

Photo Courtesy of Three Rivers Community College

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Breaking

Step 1

Read “Lines Breaking” by José Gonzalez aloud to your students. Do NOT show them the actual text quite yet, though. They will see that later.

Step 2

Show them the poem. Ask them about the poem’s line breaks and why they think the poet decided to format the poem like that. Then read the exemplar essay provided so they have an explanation as to why the lines were broken in such a manner.

Step 3

Have them come up with a list of things they find “chaotic.” They can take this term in a literal sense, like an “earthquake” or something of the sort, or they can take it in a more figurative sense, like the “chaos of the coronavirus pandemic.” Give them 5-10 minutes to come up with a list. Then discuss.

Step 4

Have them write a poem about this chaotic subject in a style similar to José Gonzalez’s. Make sure they’re using line breaks where they deem appropriate.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Structure (Line Breaks)

Step 1

If your students are not aware of how the “structure’ of a poem affects its meaning – particularly the poem’s line breaks – review the introductory lesson.

Step 2

Read the poem aloud to your students. Do NOT show them the actual text quite yet, though. They will see that later.

Step 3

Tell the students that they will be playing the part of a poetry editor. They are in charge of looking through the poem and making suggestions toward the poet’s use (or lack) of line breaks that he could implement to make his poem more effective.

Step 4

Have the students work in the following document. They’ll need to make 5 suggestions overall and explain why those suggestions should be taken into consideration. Directions are provided at the top of the page.

Step 5

Have the students share their responses and discuss their reasoning behind their suggestions.

Step 6

Show the students the actual poem. Then read the exemplar essay to see why the line breaks were implemented in such a fashion.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Structure (Line Breaks)


  • Children / Youth
  • Creativity / Imagination / Writing
  • Family
  • Immigration
  • International
  • Parenting

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure (Line Breaks)