My Friend Asked Me to Teach...

by Jenny Liou

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Transformation

Step 1

Ask your students, “Have you ever had an experience where you felt yourself “changing” by the end of it? Where you felt like you learned or experienced something fundamentally profound or enlightening? What was it?” Briefly discuss.

Step 2

Read “My Friend Asked Me to Teach Her Daughter To Kickbox” by Jenny Liou. When you’re done, briefly discuss the emotions of the speaker throughout the piece. What kind of feelings or knowledge did this experience elicit?

Step 3

Say, “Take a few minutes to think about an experience that was particularly “life-altering” for you. What did that experience teach you? Why?” Take a few minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Have your students compose a poem similar in sentiment to “My Friend Asked Me to Teach Her Daughter To Kickbox” by Jenny Liou in which they recount an experience that felt personally “transformative,” whatever that means to them.

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.

Step 2

Start by projecting (or writing) the following words on the board.

  • Fire
  • Heat
  • Safety
  • Harm
  • Comfort

Then ask your students to discuss the link between each of the words, starting with the first one and working your way all the way down the list. Simply ask them how the following word links or complements the one above it.

Step 3

Send one student out of the room. When the student is out of earshot, ask a student to give you a random word. Then ask another student to give you a word that immediately comes to mind when looking at the first student’s word, something that is somehow linked or complementary. Then ask another student to do the same. Repeat these steps until you have 6 or 7 words on the board.

Step 4

Invite the student outcast back into the room. Then ask that student to try to determine the links in thought or concept between the words presented on the board.

Step 5

When your student is done, ask the class how this exercise relates to poetry analysis. How can this exercise strengthen their ability to analyze a text?

Step 6

Read “My Friend Asked Me to Teach Her Daughter To Kickbox” by Jenny Liou. As you are reading, have your students pay particular attention to words, ideas, or concepts that are linked together throughout the poem.

Step 7

Have your students open the following document and go over the introduction and directions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to pull specific “thoughts” presented in the poem and discuss the relationship between them and how they contribute to the meaning of the work as a whole. Then give your students time to work.

Step 8

When your students are done, have them share their quotes aloud and briefly discuss how they complement one another to create meaning. Discuss.

Step 9

If time permits, share the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Aging
  • Appreciation
  • Children / Youth
  • Family
  • Friendship
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Parenting

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Tone