This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

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This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

Created by Jen Sundick


Brief Description

In this activity, students will explore the process of relationship-building and examine how individuals react to a situation using the concept of the “internal voice.” First, they will role-play a situation from their own experience of meeting and connecting to someone. Then they will apply their understanding of relationship-building to their reading of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Gate A-4” by reimagining it as what is being said/thought by the characters in the poem.


Learning Objectives

  • Students will closely examine the interactions between individuals and learn to understand the foundational elements of relationship building.
  • Students will familiarize themselves with the concept of the “Internal Voice” and use it as a tool to interpret different situations.
  • Students will apply this knowledge to a reading of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Gate A-4.”


Lead-in / Preparation / Prerequisite Knowledge

Students need two copies each of the handout “Internal Voice Worksheet,” based on Naseem Khuri’s Pathways presentation, and the handout “’Gate A-4’ Internal Voice Exercise.“


Estimated Class-Time Required

90 minutes


Description of Activities

  1. Ask students to sit with a partner. Each of them should share a situation in which she/he met someone new, and felt connected to him/her. Suggest the following situations (write them on the board or display on a slide), but also encourage students to think of their own:
  • Someone you started a conversation with on a bus or other public place
  • A new friend you met on the first day of class
  • A new tutor

Give students 5 minutes to briefly share their stories with one another.

  • Ask each set of partners to choose one of the two stories and develop a short improvisational skit of this interaction, with each of them taking a speaking role in it. Skits should be no longer than one minute. (10 minutes)

As they finish developing their skits and rejoin the class, write on the board: “What helped these two individuals connect? Were there any factors that worked against their connecting?”

  • Have students shift to form groups of six (three groups of two partners). Have them perform their skits for one another in these groups. Ask them to discuss the questions above. (5 minutes for performance, 5 minutes for discussion)
  • Share the Internal Voice Worksheet on a slide or written on the whiteboard. Ask for one group to volunteer to perform its skit. Fill in the worksheet together as a class, on the board, based on the skit. Begin by filling in the “What was said in the conversation” column first, followed by speculating together about “What was thought in the conversation.”  (10 minutes)
  • Provide copies of the Internal Voice Worksheet to the students. Have students work with their individual partners to fill out an Internal Voice Worksheet on the story they earlier developed together as a skit. Even the group that performed for the whole class can now try this alone; perhaps their analysis of the situation will differ from the class’s. (10 minutes)
  • Provide each student with a copy of “’Gate A-4’ Internal Voice Exercise.“ Students should still be sitting next to their working partners. Ask the student pairs to read each of the sections of poetry out loud together. After each part has been read, the students should discuss and fill in the “Internal Voice Worksheet” together. Continue until all parts of the “Internal Voice Worksheet” have been completed. (20 minutes)
  • In a full class discussion draw the students’ attention again to the questions that were raised at the beginning of the lesson, “What helped these two individuals connect? Were there any factors that worked against their connecting?” Direct the class discussion now to the relationship between the speaker and the woman in the poem. (5 minutes)
  • Continue in the full group setting with the following discussion questions:

How did what the speaker (the poet) and the woman said to one another lead to building a relationship?

How did what the speaker (the poet) and the woman think during this interaction affect the relationship?

What other factors affected the relationship between these two women and/or a relationship with others?

How did the relationship of these two women lead to a relationship with others at the gate in the airport, or outside of the airport? With whom did relationships develop?

What have you learned from this about how relationships develop? (15 minutes)

  1. End the lesson by listening to Naomi Shihab Nye read her poem. (5 minutes)


Key Vocabulary / Phrases

The vocabulary level of this poem is appropriate for advanced high school students. There are not specific vocabulary words associated with it, but help the students if they are unfamiliar with words.



Circulate between groups to observe and facilitate discussion. This activity gradually builds concepts. Students should demonstrate increasing understanding of the concepts as the activity develops. If not, take the time to encourage further thinking and inquiry.



    • As a follow-up activity, ask students to write a reflection on what the poem means in the final line ““This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.”
  • As homework have students apply the “Internal Voice Worksheet” to an additional dialogue from a different piece of literature, or ask students to use the worksheet as a story starter, based on an imaginary interaction between two people. Have them write a short story based on the thoughts and discussion outlined in the worksheet.



    • Internal Voice Worksheet
  • “Gate A-4” Internal Voice Exercise



The answers to “Gate A-4” Internal Voice Exercise will vary somewhat from group to group. They should be encouraged to imagine what was said/thought if it is not stated explicitly. 


Attached Files

Gate A-4 Internal Voice Exercise.pdfDownload
Internal Voice Worksheet.docxDownload