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Lesson Plan

Crossing Boundaries Through Bilingual, Spoken-Word Poetry

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Crossing Boundaries Through Bilingual, Spoken-Word Poetry

Grades 7 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Seven 90–minute sessions
Lesson Author

Danielle Berg

San Diego, California


International Literacy Association



From Theory to Practice



In this unit, students write and perform bilingual poetry, exploring the theme of “crossing boundaries.” Boundaries can be those that divide countries, race, class, cultures, or even our own mental boundaries and prejudices. In order to scaffold the integration of different languages, three mini-workshops with individual models are provided. The unit culminates in a poetry slam at school or in the community. As optional extensions, students may also publish an anthology of their poetry and choose to support a local nonprofit in a service-learning component. This unit is suited to a foreign language, bilingual, or ESL classroom but can be adapted for use in any linguistically diverse classroom. (Note: Examples are in Spanish but could be adapted.)

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Gregory, E. (2002, July). Getting to know strangers: A sociocultural approach to reading, language, and literacy. Paper presented at the Multilanguage Literacy Symposium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Available: http://www.readingonline.org/international/inter_index.asp?HREF=edinburgh/gregory/index.html

  • A sociocultural approach to literacy recognizes that there is a link between culture and cognition.
  • Bilingualism and biliteracy provides a cognitive, social, and cultural advantage.


Ernst-Slavit, G., & Mulhern, M. (2003). Bilingual books: Promoting literacy and biliteracy in the second-language and mainstream classroom. Reading Online, 7(2). Available: http://www.readingonline.org/articles/art_index.asp?HREF=ernst-slavit/index.html

  • A strong foundation in the first language supports the acquisition and academic success in the second language.
  • Using bilingual texts shows the value of other languages and cultures.


Finkbeiner, C., & Koplin, C. (2002). A cooperative approach for facilitating intercultural education. Reading Online, 6(3). Available: http://www.readingonline.org/newliteracies/lit_index.asp?HREF=finkbeiner/index.html

  • Intercultural education and awareness of other cultures is a crucial component in today’s increasingly diverse society.

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