Women’s History Month: Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman’s Climbing Hills: An Inspiration to All

Amanda Gorman was initially thrust into the spotlight when she made her debut in 2021 as the youngest poet in history to speak at a presidential inauguration. She was only twenty-two years old. With her red headband and bright yellow blazer, people all across America leaned in to hear her poetic and articulate words. She inspired boys, girls, young and old with her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” spoken at President Biden’s swearing-in ceremony. 

The media, for weeks afterward, educated Americans on Amanda Gorman. A cum laude Harvard University graduate, a New York Times writer, winner of countless awards, and a published author, this Californian native has accomplished so much in her twenty-three years. Hailed as the next Maya Angelou, Gorman is beautiful, poised, and intelligent. She is a wonderful woman to learn about during Women’s History Month in March. 

The daughter of a sixth-grade English teacher, Amanda loved reading and had restricted access to television as a child. Amanda Gorman’s life story is inspirational and can teach young children the art of overcoming adversity. Now an accomplished and articulate public speaker of wonderfully-written words, she has dealt with an auditory processing disorder and a speech impediment since she was a child. She also struggled with the sound of the letter “R” until she was twenty years old. These challenges did not stop her from writing and reading her work aloud. 

Amanda Gorman stated in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, “I’m really grateful for that experience because it informs my poetry. I think it made me all that much stronger of a writer when you have to teach yourself how to say words from scratch. When you are learning through poetry how to speak English, it lends to a great understanding of sound, pitch, of pronunciation, so I think of my speech impediment not as a weakness or a disability, but as one of my greatest strengths.”

Amanda Gorman, as a young woman, is relational to the students of today. So often, students are learning about figures from the past, but to see a young woman who is alive now and making achievements in the world of poetry, literature, and the arts can inspire them to make the world a better place through their passions.

Here are some excellent books to teach all about Amanda Gorman from elementary to middle school. 

Book 1 – Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem

From an author’s perspective, students can appreciate and see Amanda as a writer through this beautiful picture book which details one of her eloquent poems. 

Publisher’s Synopsis:

In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves. 

With lyrical text and rhythmic illustrations that build to a dazzling crescendo by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long, Change Sings is a triumphant call to action for everyone to use their abilities to make a difference.

Book 2Amanda Gorman (Little People, Big Dreams)

Publisher’s Synopsis: 

From an early age, Little Amanda read everything she could get her hands on, from books to cereal boxes. Growing up with an auditory processing disorder and a speech impediment, Amanda had to work hard, but ultimately she took great strength from her experiences.

After hearing her teacher read aloud to the class, she knew that she wanted to become a poet, and nothing would stand in her way. At the age of 19, she became America’s first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate. And, after performing her inspiring poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ at the Presidential Inauguration in January 2021, she became an icon across the world.

Book 3 – Amanda Gorman (My Itty-Bitty Bio)

I recently discovered these Itty Bitty Bio books, which are perfect for pre-school to younger elementary grades. 

Publisher’s Synopsis:

The My Itty-Bitty Bio series are biographies for the earliest readers. This book examines the life of National Youth Poet Laureate and activist Amanda Gorman in a simple, age-appropriate way that will help young readers develop word recognition and reading skills. Includes a table of contents, author biography, timeline, glossary, index, and other informative backmatter.

Book 4 – Call Us What We Carry

I just purchased this book for my classroom! I am reading it right now in preparation for April’s Poetry Month. Utilizing her poems from this collection will be so exciting. My favorite part so far is how relational the poems are for young people. Many of the poems are about being a student during Covid. It captures the uneasiness, sadness, and fear of the times. Here is a quick excerpt from her poem “School’s Out.” 

The announcement

Swung blunt as an axe-blow:

All students were to leave

Campus as soon as possible

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, the luminous poetry collection by #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. In Call Us What We Carry, Gorman explores history, language, identity, and erasure through an imaginative and intimate collage. Harnessing the collective grief of a global pandemic, this beautifully designed volume features poems in many inventive styles and structures and shines a light on a moment of reckoning. Call Us What We Carry reveals that Gorman has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future.

Book 5 – The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country 

This book is of Gorman’s famous poem, The Hill We Climb, the poem that put her on the map. 

Publisher’s Synopsis:

On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman became the sixth and youngest poet to deliver a poetry reading at a presidential inauguration. Taking the stage after the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden, Gorman captivated the nation and brought hope to viewers around the globe with her call for unity and healing. Her poem “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country” can now be cherished in this special gift edition, perfect for any reader looking for some inspiration. Including an enduring foreword by Oprah Winfrey, this remarkable keepsake celebrates the promise of America and affirms the power of poetry.

Activities to Complete with The Hill We Climb

Last year, after the presidential inauguration, I had my middle-school students watch Amanda Gorman deliver this poem. Afterward, we read it together and identified similes, metaphors, personification, imagery, and alliteration present in the poem. It is a treasure trove of figurative language!

We also discussed how “The Hill” is a metaphor. We made a list out of all the “hills” Amanda could possibly be referring to, from racism to Covid, from personal struggles to America’s core issues. 

Next, I had students write a paragraph response about their own personal hill. The hill they will need to climb in their lives and how they could climb it. Some chose to write about Covid. Others wrote about academic struggles, family issues, or anxiety. It was an eye-opening activity for students and myself to see what makes them tick. In addition, I learned what bothers them and how they are trying to overcome this adversity in their lives. We discussed ways to overcome these challenges and talked about how Gorman overcame her own challenges. Students could even turn their responses into their own poems. 

The next day, I had students illustrate a visual from The Hill We Climb. From “gold-limbed hill,” to “lake-rimmed cities,” to “light in this never-ending shade,” and “the belly of the beast,” students drew and colored. The main focus of their drawing is the image pictured while they read the poem. They wrote a response detailing why they chose that image and what it could mean.

To use this same activity, click below for a FREE PDF with Google Slides.

To incorporate music into a lesson on  The Hill We Climb, we listened to the Miley Cyrus song, “The Climb,” and read the lyrics.

We discussed the meaning behind Cyrus’ song and compared it to Gorman’s poem. We discussed how we all have a hill we must climb. Furthermore, we discussed how Cyrus’ song helps point out that it’s not necessarily the destination, but the journey that counts. 

We also have an awesome bulletin board for Women’s History Month available right now with original clip art you won’t find anywhere else. It is a print-and-go bulletin board, complete with inspirational quotes.

Want to buy from ETSY, click picture.
Want to purchase from TpT, click here.


Amanda Gorman’s eloquent, gripping, and stimulating poetry is a gift to students. Her presence as a young female poet can inspire generations. Most importantly, students can see history made before their eyes. Furthermore, Amanda Gorman joins the amazing list of great poets of history, such as Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and Emily Dickinson. Amanda Gorman would make a wonderful woman for students to learn about during Women’s History Month in March. 

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6 Black History Month Activities

Black History Month is observed every February to honor the accomplishments of Black individuals and to recognize the important roles they played in the United States, from the past to the present.

At the beginning of this school year, when I polled my class to see what their favorite concept, holiday, or idea to learn about was, several said Black History Month. My students really looked forward to this month of history every year, and I was thrilled to learn that!

Every February, I like to do some additional activities for Black History month to honor this special time. Here are just a few!

1. Instagram Biography Project

Using Who Was or Who Is books and a variety of other biographies from the library, I like to have students complete an Instagram Biography Project. Students are responsible for picking out a person they would like to study by perusing the books provided. Then, they are responsible for skimming and reading this particular book over a course of a couple of class periods. Next, they utilize the Instagram Biography Project template to create a timeline of their famous person’s accomplishments.

Students copy and paste photos in the boxes and provide a caption for each picture. The caption must be 2 or more sentences and should explain what is going on in the picture and why it is significant. Next, students must make sure their photos are in a sequential timeline as well. I encourage the students to use hashtags to add that Instagram feeling to their post. Finally, students present their Instagram Biographies to the class and everyone learns a little something about each famous person.

2. Honor Lesser-Known Individuals through Books and Media

Every year, I like to bring up lesser-known stories of Black individuals who should be recognized. 

Claudette Colvin is a young girl I especially like to teach about as many students do not readily know her name like they do Rosa Parks. A book I recommend to students to read independently is called Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose. 

Claudette Colvin was a fifteen-year-old teenager who did the exact same thing that Rosa Parks did, except nine months prior. On March 2, 1955, Colvin refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Colvin didn’t receive as much attention because she was younger and there were other issues. Based on in-depth interviews with Claudette and other pivotal people, this book makes history come to life.

Paerdegat Library: Kids in Black History

Here is a video all about Claudette Colvin: Paerdegat Library: Kids in Black History

Other people that are not as widely known are Lewis Latimer, who developed a filament that helped extend the life of a light bulb. Thomas Edison may have invented the actual light bulb, but his invention did not last extremely long. Enter in Latimer, an inventor, and son of escaped slaves, he developed the key to allowing the light bulb to last. 

Check out this video about Latimer:

Bessie Coleman is another hidden person of Black History. She was born in 1892, and became extremely interested in flying after hearing about the war stories from pilots in WWI. Although female and African-American, she did not let this hold her back. She became the first African American woman to get both a national and international pilot’s license after traveling to France to become trained.

A wonderful picture book about Bessie Coleman is called Fly High! The Story of Bessie Coleman

To incorporate these individuals into your school schedule, you can do a “Person-of-the Day” highlight, in which you read or teach about that individual or even simply show a video, which would open the floor up to discussion about the hidden figures of Black History.

3. Explore Poetry

April is National Poetry Month, but that shouldn’t stop you from incorporating the poetry of famous Black writers into your lessons. 

Just like you can incorporate a “Person-of-the-Day,” you could also utilize “Poet-of-the-Day,” and read about a Black poet and a poem they have written. Students can then write a paragraph response to it, or you can utilize the time for discussion of symbolism and in-depth meaning of the poem. 

Students can even illustrate the poem after they visualize it while reading it.

Some wonderful poets and poems you can highlight in your classroom that are favorites among my middle school students are below:

Upper Elementary and Middle School:

Langston Hughes-The Weary Blues

Langston Hughes-Mother to Son

Maya Angelou-And Still I Rise

Maya Angelou-Caged Bird 

Kobe Bryant-Dear Basketball 

Amanda Gorman-The Hill We Climb

Gwendolyn Brooks-We Real Cool 

Kwame Alexander-The Crossover

4. Virtual Museums

The internet is a beautiful thing, especially when it comes to virtual field trips. Take your students all over to explore Black history, using museum virtual tours.

Here are three virtual museum field trips your students can take today!

1. African American History and Culture

This virtual tour is especially expansive as it begins with slavery, spans emancipation, segregation, and explores the present day. This museum has 3,500 exhibits featured online.

Click here for Virtual Tour

2. African American Baseball Museum

One of my favorite books to read with upper elementary and middle schoolers is Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis.

It touches on the Baseball Leagues as the main characters enjoy watching their favorite players on the diamond. It was so important for the characters to see themselves in sports and for those players to become notarized for what they achieved. 

Click here for Virtual Tour

This virtual tour contains video interviews with former players, several exhibits, and countless pictures of the league. 

3. The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site 

If you teach about World War II, then this virtual tour would flow nicely right into your lesson plans. If you don’t teach this concept, February would be an excellent time to introduce your students to the Tuskegee Airmen, the African American WWII pilots who made an important impact in history. 

Click here for Virtual Tour

Virtual tours are free and convenient as you can explore them from the comfort of your classroom. 

5. Teach the History of Black History Month

How did Black History Month come to be? We celebrate this month, but many do not know how this commemoration even started. It’s important to teach students how this month began.

An African-American historian, Carter G. Woodson, wanted to celebrate Black History for a full week in February. He chose February because Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and Frederick Douglass’s birthday were within the same week. He wanted to honor President Lincoln’s birthday because of his critical role in the Emancipation Proclamation. Additionally, Douglass was honored because of his powerful oration and writing skills and his work as an abolitionist.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized the month of February as Black History Month. 

To learn how the month began, students can learn about Abraham Lincoln, as well as Frederick Douglass and why Carter G. Woodson would choose this month. For more information, grab a copy of Carter Reads the Newspaper today.

Publisher’s Synopsis:

The first-ever picture book biography of Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History Month

Carter G. Woodson Book Award (Honor Book), NCSS
Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book
Top 10 Books for Kids ―New York Public Library
Best Children’s Books of the Year (Starred) ―Bank Street College of Education

Carter G. Woodson was born to two formerly enslaved people ten years after the end of the Civil War. Though his father could not read, he believed in being an informed citizen, so Carter read the newspaper to him every day. As a teenager, Carter went to work in the coal mines, and there he met Oliver Jones, who did something important: he asked Carter not only to read to him and the other miners, but also research and find more information on the subjects that interested them.

Also, to learn more about Frederick Douglass, here is a wonderful video.

6. Black History Month Reflection

I believe February is a wonderful month for Black History commemoration, also because of Valentine’s Day. While not chosen on purpose, it coincides nicely and we can see how love and kindness was spread through the actions of social justice activists, whether it was Martin Luther King, Jr. to Harriet Tubman, from Barack Obama to Sojourner Truth. 

Once Black History month is over, students can spend some time reflecting on what they have learned. 

Here is a free worksheet that helps students reflect about everything they’ve learned and allows them to think to the future for what they could learn later. It incorporates Black History Month and the February theme of love. 


We hope you are able to utilize some of these ideas in your classroom at any point in the year, not only during Black History Month. From the Instagram Biography activity to learning about lesser-known individuals, students can learn about a variety of people. Even by exploring various Black poets, virtual museums, and the background of how the commemoration month began, students are ensured to have a rich time exploring the excellence of these individuals that contributed so much to America. 

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