The Proper Way to Prepare the U.S. Flag

by Carmin Wong

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Flag

Step 1

Start by reading “The Proper Way to Prepare the U.S. Flag” by Carmin Wong. When you’re done, simply discuss the structure of the poem. How is it unique in its style, structure, or format?

Step 2

Briefly discuss the poem. What message is the poet trying to convey? And how does the formatting of the poem help to convey the speaker’s feelings toward America?

Step 3

Say, “Choose something about American history that you’d like to explore. When you’ve chosen your subject, think of the way(s) it has been depicted over time. Does America embrace its true history? Why or why not? Take a few minutes to brainstorm.”

Step 4

Have your students compose a poem similar in sentiment to “The Proper Way to Prepare the U.S. Flag” in which they focus on an element of United States history and offer their opinions, comments, and thoughts.

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: Structure

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the general concept of a poem’s “structure,” go through the introductory lesson.

Step 2

Start by showing your students the following Ted Talk from artist Dread Scott.

Step 3

When the video is over, discuss Dread Scott’s piece, “What is The Proper Way to Display a US Flag?” What was the intent of the piece? In what way(s) did the piece bring attention to the artist’s message? Ask your students to briefly discuss specific elements of the work.

Step 4

Project the poem, “The Proper Way to Prepare the U.S. Flag” by Carmin Wong, on the board and read it aloud to your students. As you are reading, ask your students to pay particular attention to its artistic or structural elements and how they contribute to the meaning of the work as a whole. When you are done reading, have a few of them share their observations.

Step 5

Have your students open the following document and go over the introduction and instructions with them. In this assignment your students are going to analyze the poem from an artistic, structural, or stylistic lens and discuss how it attempts to “shape America’s conversation about freedom” through those elements. When you’ve gone through the directions, give your students time to work.

Step 6

When your students are done, project the poem on the board again. Then have a few volunteers come to the front of the room and have them discuss their findings.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Structure


  • Death / Grief
  • History
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Violence
  • War

Literary Tags

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

Content Warning

  • Death or Dying
  • Racism or Racial Slurs
  • Violence