“We Real Cool” in the Classroom

10 Jan

I love, love teaching this poem!

Teaching Unplugged in the Triggering Town

“We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks

We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon.

Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool” is a fantastic poem for the language classroom. The poem’s conciseness and simple language is what first prompted me to use it in the classroom, but its universal theme of rebellion, of thumbing the nose at the establishment, is the real gem of this poem. I’ve never encountered a class of learners where there wasn’t at least a bit of a fire burning inside. I’ve used it in several contexts and I’m sure you can think of a heck of a lot more.

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