Analytical Essay - Using Non-Fiction to Analyze Poetry

Composition II  Honors– OER

Lesson Plan: by Prof. Alexandra Della Fera

Passaic County Community College

English Department


Lesson:  This lesson will focus on understanding poignant ideas from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s significant lecture “The Danger of a Single Story” and applying them to the poem “How to Be a Real Indian” by Kenzie Allen.  Class discussion will serve as a laboratory for idea sharing which will be needed for ideas for the class’s next analytical essay. 


Instructional Goals:

1.      Students will view Adichie’s lecture captured on video and will understand the danger of stereotyping characters for a writer and reader.


2.      Students will be able to explicate the poem “How to Be a Real Indian” by Kenzie Allen.


3.      Students will be able to apply the important ideas of Adichie to the poem in response to a writing prompt for an analytical essay.


Rationale:  By being asked to analyze the ideas of one author, and evaluate how these ideas are used by another writer, students are utilizing higher-order critical thinking skills (according to Bloom’s Taxonomy).  Providing more challenging and thought-provoking reading material and writing prompts distinguishes composition I from composition II. 


1.      Video:

2.      Poem:



Instructional Procedures:

1.      Students view the video “The Danger of a Single Story” and are given a five-minute free write to respond to it.

2.      Discussion of students’ ideas ensues.

3.      The poem “How to Be a Real Indian” is read aloud, and students are asked to cull specific lines that they want to react to for their double-entry journals.

4.      The writing prompt is given and students are given five minutes to free write their ideas in response to the question.

5.      A brief discussion ensues and students are asked to create an outline for their next essay and begin their writing.



Students will be assessed on their critical thinking skills and their ability to articulate these ideas coherently and intelligently from their essay assignment.


Writing Prompt:

Considering the poignant ideas that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shares in her lecture “The Danger of a Single Story,” evaluate how Kenzie Allen’s speaker navigates her own dual cultural identity and what stereotypical ‘single story’ she applies to herself.  What is the danger for this speaker?  How does she come to terms with her heritage, and what ultimate story does she decide to share with those who ask how Indian she is?    Fold in Adichie’s ideas and insights when applicable.



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