Common Thread

Essay Writing: read the provided poems by Langston Hughes and Amanda Gorman.  After reading, provide a written response to the text.  The essay should connect current events to the historical context of the Harlem Renaissance and explain how the past has shaped political, social, and artistic developments in the United States.

  • Provide an original essay title

  • Reference one of the poems and respond to its message

  • Limit the essay to no more than 300 words

  • Pay attention to grammar and organization

  • Be original. provide personal examples and insights

  • Demonstrate clarity of content and ideas

  • (Optional) Submit writing to Tellus Zine for consideration at*

Essay Requirements

  • Notebook

  • Pencil / Pen

  • Computer for typing


  • Amanda Gorman Article

  • Langston Hughes PDF

Instructional Aides / Resources

  • Metamorphosis - change of physical form, structure, or substance; often evident in science (ie. butterfly cycle or frog cycle)


  • W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

  • W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

  • SL.8.3 Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.

  • WHST.9-10.1 Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

  • RST.6-8.9 Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.

Ohio Standards

The writers of the past heavily affect the writers of today.  There are many common threads that unite historic events to current events.  Social justice influenced the voice of Langston Hughes and reigns the same for rising literary star, Amanda Gorman who was the 2021 Inauguration poet.  By studying the work of both writers, students can begin to compare and contrast their messages and discover new threads within their own views.  Having the option to participate in the Tellus Zine allows the opportunity to share their ideas amongst peers and identify the possibilities within writing outlets.

  1. Read Writings: Students read the provided text for both featured authors.  

  2. Research Events: Research historical events and current events that provide context and support for their ideas. Draft notes for later reference to document helpful findings.

  3. Find threads:  Identify common themes within the information studied.

  4. Personal Connection:  Students explore their personal experiences and select an experience that directly or indirectly.

  5. Draft:  Begin organizing the information by writing notes into paragraphs. Then, organize the paragraphs in a meaningful way for clarity and understanding of the overall message.

  6. Second Set of Eyes:  With a partner, trade essays and review.  Provide feedback and suggestions for one another.

  7. Final Check:  Edit the essay.  Check for grammar, spelling and punctuation.

  8. Submit:  Turn in the essay for a grade and consider submission to Tellus Zine



​*Creativity is an essential life skill in today’s world, helping young people to develop self-confidence, communicate effectively, work as a team, manage their time, and set goals. In fact, creativity is cited as the top leadership competency for the future. Yet, our society is experiencing a crisis of creativity. The prevalence of anxiety, stress, and isolation this year have thrown many young brains into survival mode and blocked them from functioning creatively. The Tellus Zine editorial board, led by fourteen local students from across Greater Cincinnati, is using technology in positive, affirming ways to connect teens with each other and the wider community through online creative workshops and a guest speaker series. This winter, the Tellus Editorial Board is also encouraging their peers to harness creativity to explore transformative changes they've seen in themselves and society during this difficult time. Submissions from young adults ages 13-21 will be considered for inclusion in the second annual issue of the online Tellus Zine, themed: Metamorphosis.


  • Group essay:  Have the students work in groups of 3 or more.  Assign tasks for each member of the group, then have the students work independently to research their portions.  Once the information is gathered, the group members share their findings and transcribe the essay together.

  • Presentation:  Students present their research findings in front of the class using props or aides as needed.

  • Perform:  Students organize a spoken work classroom delivery of a portion of their essays; reading aloud their writings (possibly memorized) to practice speech and build public speaking confidence.


Have students break out into groups of 3 or 4, and have them discuss the poetry resources amongst themselves, while you wander the room getting an idea of what questions they may have. Then at the end of a breakout session, have one speaker from each group advise what questions the whole group may have about the topic. This makes sure the students don't feel like it is all on them, and they may also learn info from their peers.