The short writing prompts in Good Luck Gold & MORE are designed for use after reading the accompanying poem and prose piece, but they can also be used as short discussion starters at any time—even months before sharing the poems. Here is a selection of one-third of the prompts. Share a few questions at a time, talking for just a minute about them. If there is a question that elicits more intense discussion than the others, you can then make a special note to share the poem and prose piece that go with that prompt.
Page 7: Do you have any old pieces of writing where you can write “the story after the story”? What things have you been wondering about recently? Curriculum connections: Understanding that there are layers of text, either explicit or implicit, including unwritten passages; also recognizing that writing is a process and we can revisit our writing even long after we think we have finished.
Page 9: How are babies celebrated in the culture(s) of your heritage? Can you ask someone about it? Curriculum connections: Looking at the impact of infant mortality rates on cultural practices regarding the treatment of babies. Also: recognizing oral history and inviting students to interview family members to learn more about lost cultural practices. For info on Chinese “red egg and ginger parties”: https://www.waiyeehong.com/oriental-culture/chinese-baby-customs-a-full-moon-party/.
Page 15: How many different cultures have you grown up with? Do you do anything that might be a mix of cultures? Curriculum connections: A meaningful understanding of diversity and inclusion requires that we examine intersectionality and look broadly at our cultural influences.
Page 21: What are the physical traits that define you? Now think: what really defines who you are? How much of you can we see? Curriculum connections: Discuss the idea that race is not biological but is a social construct, as presented by Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ibram X. Kendi, and other leading authors of social justice texts. Start here: https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/06/16/how-fluid-is-racial-identity/race-and-racial-identity-are-social-constructs.
Page 23: Have you ever been the victim of racism—or witnessed a racist act? What did you do? Curriculum connections: Discuss the bystander intervention principles found at https://www.ihollaback.org/bystander-resources/.
Page 25: What are some odd things that people have done at different times in history to make themselves “beautiful”?What are some uncomfortable things that we do to “look good”? Curriculum connections: Read about the history of foot-binding in China here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/why-footbinding-persisted-china-millennium-180953971/.
Page 37: Do you have a favorite plant in your house or garden? Have you ever had a houseplant that died? How did it make you feel? Curriculum connections: Research shows indoor and outdoor green spaces improve our well-being: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cravings/201909/11-ways-plants-enhance-your-mental-and-emotional-health. What are the environmental and urban planning implications for this?
Page 41: How many great baseball players can you name? How many of them were born or raised in a country other than the U.S.? Curriculum connections: Despite xenophobic attitudes of some baseball commentators and fans who consider baseball to be an “all-American” sport, a recent study suggested that 27% of the players in MLB were born outside of the U.S.: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2018/04/27/27-of-major-league-baseball-players-are-foreign-born/?sh=5490f61f7712.
Page 43: Has anyone ever stereotyped you? What assumptions did they make that were wrong? What things are you good at—that don’t fit a stereotype? Curriculum connections: Share the resources from Learning for Justice: https://www.learningforjustice.org/learning-plan/stereotypes-42.
Page 45: Have you ever been taunted by bullies? How did you react? Do you wish you had reacted differently? Curriculum connections: Share these lists of things to do and common mistakes in dealing with bullies: https://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/on-the-spot.
Page 47: When you’re sick, are there special plants that can help you feel better? What family remedies do you know about? Curriculum connections: Exploring the topic of herbal medicine and ethnobotany helps engage students in science and culture: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5132387/.
Page 49: Do you ever wonder how your food was grown or raised? If you were in charge of the meals for your family, what kinds of foods would you buy or grow? Curriculum connections: Get kids talking about sustainable eating, healthy foods, and community gardens: https://www.epa.gov/children/childrens-health-curriculum-lesson-8-sustainable-eating-healthy-foods-and-community.
Page 69: What is your Chinese zodiac animal? Are you like that animal in some ways? Are you unlike that animal in other ways? Curriculum connections: Learn about Chinese astrology generally (and years and attributes of different animals): https://www.rd.com/article/what-is-my-chinese-zodiac-sign/.
Page 79: Have you ever felt “like a chicken talking to a duck”? Are there topics where we seem unable to understand each other, even if we’re hearing the same words? Curriculum connections: This Psychology Today article offers tips for talking to someone you disagree with. See if your students agree! https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brave-talk/202101/11-tips-talking-someone-you-disagree.
These are just some of the writing prompts in Good Luck Gold & MORE. If your students enjoy these questions, read the poems and prose pieces for even more meaningful discussions!