The Committee Weighs In

by Andrea Cohen

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Coping

Step 1

Ask your students, “How do you handle loss? What are some of the ways you cope with losing somebody or something? Explain.” Then give them 5-10 minutes to discuss.

Step 2

Read the poem “The Committee Weighs In” by Andrea Cohen. When you’re done reading, briefly discuss the different ways the speaker deals with her loss.

Step 3

Say, “Think of the different ways you find yourself coping with loss, whether that be the loss of somebody close to your or even something as trivial as losing your iPhone. Write down as many emotions as you can.” Then give your students 5-10 minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Have your students compose a poem similar in sentiment to “The Committee Weighs In” in which they depict the ways they handle or cope with loss.

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 to think of the ways that they cope with loss or how they have seen others cope with loss. Tell them that loss can refer to something small and materialistic like, for example, their jacket, or it can be something much more meaningful. Then have them share their responses anonymously – if they are comfortable doing so – either through a PearDeck, Jamboard, Padlet, etc. Post the responses on the board and briefly read some of them aloud.

Step 3

Read “The Committee Weighs In” by Andrea Cohen. Before you read, please give your students a warning about the content of the poem. When you are done, ask your students to explain how the speaker of the poem deals with the loss of her mother.

Step 4

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 four different subjects or topics the poem touches upon through the speaker’s response to her mother’s passing. Then give your students time to work.

Step 5

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

Step 6

If time permits, share the exemplar essay with them.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Appreciation
  • Children / Youth
  • Death / Grief
  • Family
  • Health / Health Care / Illness
  • Love
  • Parenting

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Structure (Syntax)
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Death or Dying