Surface Pressure

by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Photo by Austin Hargrave

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Surface

Step 1

Ask your students, “Have ever felt pressured to act or behave a certain way? Why? How did you act? And what expectations were imposed upon you?” Then give them time to discuss.

Step 2

Watch the video on the following slide. While your students are watching, ask them to pay close attention to the lyrics and determine how the speaker expresses her feelings of confliction.

Step 3

Say, “Think of the ways in which have had to conform to other people’s standards or expectations. Then try to come up with as many ways why you felt the need to behave differently than you normally would.” Then give them time to brainstorm.

Step 4

Have your students compose a poem similar in sentiment to “Surface Pressure” in which they recount the pressures they’ve felt to conform to other people’s expectations.

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

Ask your students if they have seen the movie Encanto. Then ask them about the character of Luisa. What are their thoughts?

Step 3

Show your students the following clip from Encanto. When it’s done, ask your students to describe Luisa by only using one word.

Step 4

Have your students open the following document and go through the overview, video, and directions with them. In this assignment, your students will analyze the song “Surface Pressure” by Lin-Manuel Miranda and determine how the song characterizes Luisa. When you’ve gone through the directions, give your students time to work on the assignment.

Step 5

When your students are done, have them share their responses with the rest of the class.

Step 6

If time remains, share the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Children / Youth
  • Family
  • Health / Health Care / Illness
  • Labor / Work
  • Love
  • Mental Health
  • Parenting

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Selection of Detail
  • Sound Devices
  • Tone