by Claude McKay

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Outcast

Step 1

Have the students brainstorm a list of times when they simply felt out of place, or in a place at the wrong moment in time. Then have them share their responses. 

Step 2

Read the poem “Outcast” by Claude McKay and discuss his feelings of alienation.  

Step 3

Using “Outcast” as a mentor text, have them write a 14 line poem of their own in which they discuss a particular instance of feeling like an “outcast.”

Step 4

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

Extension Activity: Have the students write their poem while abiding by the “rules” of a sonnet, as outlined in the introductory lesson.  

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Structure (Sonnets)

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the fundamental characteristics of a sonnet, go through the introductory lesson with them.

Step 2

Tell the students that, using their knowledge of the structure of a sonnet, they will be piecing together a sonnet that has been separated into 14 individual lines. When they’ve constructed their poem, have them determine its larger message.

Step 3

Have the students partner up and work in the following document. Directions can be found in the first slide.

Step 4

When the students are done, show them the actual poem and briefly discuss it. Then share the exemplar essay so they can see if their understanding is similar in scope.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Structure (Sonnets)


  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Family
  • History
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure (Sonnets)