by Mosab Abu Toha

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Shadows

Step 1

Start by reading “Obit” by Palestinian poet, Mosab Abu Toha.When you’re done, briefly discuss the use of “shadows” in the piece. What do they refer to? How do they function in the poem? And why?

Step 2

Have a brief discussion with your students. Say, “Do you have a “shadow”? What is your shadow? Why do you have it? And where did you leave it behind?”

Step 3

Tell your students, “Choose one of your “shadows” that you would like to pay tribute to in the form of an obituary. Then take a bit of time to think about all of the qualities of your shadow that you mourn.” Then give them a few minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Have your students compose a poem similar in sentiment to “Obit” in which they pay tribute to or memorialize one of their “shadows.”

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: Figurative Language

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the concept of “figurative language,” go over the introductory lesson with them.

Step 2

Look through the following “shadow” photography presentation with your students. As you’re examining the images, have your students raise their hands and discuss what comes to mind when they look at those images. How do the words they came up with reflect themselves in the photographs? What may the shadows in the photographs represent on a broader scale? What may the shadows reflect about life? Humanity? Ourselves? Ask them to think of a shadow both in a literal sense and in a figurative sense. Jot down a few of their responses on the board.

Step 3 (Optional)

If you would like to provide some historical and personal context to the poem you are about to read, you may show the following short video about the poet and his family.

  • Warning: The video includes scenes of graphic violence, so teachers should use discretion if showing it in a classroom setting.

Step 4

Read “Obit” by Mosab Abu Toha. As you are reading, ask your students to pay close attention to the “shadows” expressed in the piece and how they reflect the speaker’s feelings and emotions.

Step 5

Have your students open the following document and go over the introduction and directions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to explore the different facets of a “shadow” and how they reflect the speaker’s feelings, emotions, and attitude throughout the text. When you’ve gone over the instructions, give your students time to work on the assignment.

Step 6

When your students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Figurative Language


  • Children / Youth
  • Community / Culture
  • Death / Grief
  • Family
  • History
  • Home / Homelessness
  • Immigration
  • International
  • Love
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Social Movements / Protest
  • Violence
  • War

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Sound Devices
  • Structure (Line Breaks)
  • Structure (Syntax)
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Blood
  • Death or Dying
  • Violence