Say Thank You Say I'm Sorry

by Jericho Brown

Photo by Brian Cornelius

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Essential

Step 1

Watch the embedded video. Then have your students share their feelings about the people described in the video.

Step 2

Read “Say Thank You Say I’m Sorry” by Jericho Brown. Then discuss his attitude toward essential workers and how he conveys his feelings toward them.

Step 3

Have your students come up with a list of different ways these essential workers have helped us in our time of need. Give them 5-10 minutes.

Step 4

Tell your students to write a poem in the same style as Jericho Brown’s in which they pay tribute and express their gratitude toward essential workers.

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: Selection of Detail

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the concept of “selection of detail,” go through the introductory lesson with them.

Step 2

Tell them that they will be reading a poem about essential workers and the Coronavirus. Then read them the title. Have them predict what they think the content of the poem will look like based on the title alone.

Step 3

Read “Say Thank You Say I’m Sorry” with your students. Discuss how their predictions fared. Then discuss the message of the poem and how it ties in with the title.

Step 4

Have your students analyze the details in the poem that contribute to Jericho Brown’s message about essential workers. The students need to find the details in the poem that contribute to the various points he is trying to establish. Have them work in the following document. Directions are provided at the top of the page.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses aloud. Then show them the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Selection of Detail


  • Appreciation
  • Health / Health Care / Illness
  • Labor / Work

Literary Tags

  • Figurative Language
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure