When I Crawled Out the Creek

by Elliott Carter

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Crawling

Step 1

Ask your students, “What defines you? What is your identity? Why is that your identity?” Then discuss.

Step 2

Read “When I Crawled Out the Creek” by Elliott Carter. When you’re done, briefly discuss the speaker’s identity. What is the speaker’s identity? What are the emotions associated with this identity?

Step 3

Say, “Think of your own identity and what contributes to it. Then try to think about your emotional state if that identity was challenged, either by yourself or by someone else. How would you feel if you were confronted not only with the challenge, but with the actual potential of change?” Then give your students a few minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Ask your students to compose a poem similar in sentiment to “When I Crawled Out the Creek” in which they reflect upon their identity and their feelings about having that identity challenged (and potentially altered), either by themselves or by others.

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

In the scene you are about to show from the movie Hustle, a Spanish basketball prodigy, Bo Cruz, is trying out for a spot on an NBA basketball team. Cruz, who up to this point has only been heralded as “the next big thing,” is matched up with “Kermit,” another NBA prospect. As your students are watching the clip, ask them to pay attention to the array of emotions Cruz undergoes when his identity – in this case as an unmatched, standout basketball player and family man – is challenged.

Step 3

Show your students the clip from Hustle. When the clip is over, briefly discuss Cruz’s emotions. How does he respond? Why does he respond in those ways?

Step 4

Ask your students about their own identities. What defines them? Why? How would they feel if this identity was challenged, either by themselves or by others?

Step 5

Read “When I Crawled Out the Creek” by Elliott Carter. As you are reading, ask your students to identify the conflicting emotions the speaker feels about her burgeoning identity.

Step 6

Have your students open the following document and go over the instructions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to discuss the vacillating emotions of the speaker as she is reflecting upon her identity. Then give your students time to work.

Step 7

When your students are done, have them share their findings with one another, the “push and pull” of the speaker’s emotions.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Body / Body Image
  • Gender / Gender Identity / Gender Expression / Sexism

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Tone