The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) specifies that poetry be taught to grades 6 to 12 for two distinct purposes. All 4(A) and 3(A) TEKS address the comprehension of a poetic literary text: “Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of poetry and provide evidence from texts to support their understanding.” All 15(B) and 14(B) TEKS require students to actually write poetry, using specific elements common to most poetry.
This brief guide (PDF) will relate, grade-by-grade, the TEKS to the “Creative Writing Exercises Based on the Poetry of Carmen Tafolla” provided on this website. All seven poems presented on the Tafolla website can be used at every level, with the exception of Poem VII, “La Malinche,” which should be reserved for upper grades.
By using the exercises provided, students can accomplish both the comprehension and the writing goals specified by TEKS. Perhaps more importantly, these are poems that use language and images that students throughout the Southwest can readily identify with. But this is hardly Tafolla’s only audience. Tafolla’s poems have successfully generated a global audience. Her work has been the subject of Ph.D. dissertations from Germany to Spain, Argentina to Canada. Her poems are powerful evocations of what it is to live in a multi-lingual, multi-cultural world.