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ELA G7:M3:U3

Writing a Narrative Based on an Event from the Life of Frederick Douglass

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In this unit, students write a picture book based on an event from the life of Frederick Douglass. First, students return to Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery[1], which they encountered in Unit 2. This children’s book serves as the model text, and the students read it and another children’s book closely to examine how the author used the tools of a narrative writer to craft a powerful story. Students then write their own book through a series of structured lessons, which are designed to help them all produce high-quality work. First, using their notes from Unit 2, they select an episode on which to focus and write a general plan for their story. Then they take those plans to a Writer’s Roundtable, where they discuss their plans and participate in a peer critique. In addition to being a valuable step in the writing process, this structured conversation serves as Part 1 of the mid-unit assessment (focusing on SL.7.1b, c, and d).  Also leading up to the mid-unit assessment, students do a variety of learning activities that focus on sentence structure and build on the instruction from Unit 2.

Part 2 of the mid-unit assessment consists of selected and constructed response centered on L 7.1a, b, d, and 7.2a. Students then begin a series of writer’s workshops. Within these lessons, students continue to learn about narrative writing techniques and the teacher gives a series of mini lessons centered on sensory language, precise word choice, strong verbs, and dialogue. They have class time to write several drafts of each page on storyboards. At various points they revise their writing based on peer review and self-assessment. Next, they turn in their completed storyboards (which serve as the end of unit assessment) for formal teacher feedback. Students also reflect on how they addressed audience and purpose in their stories. After the teacher returns the storyboards with feedback, the students create their illustrated children’s books. This book is the final performance task; students synthesize all they have learned about Frederick Douglass and the power of stories. Lessons 11 and 12 serve as the “coda” for this unit; students revisit the guiding questions and then reflect on the ways their own children’s books have enduring power. 

[1] This children’s book is integral to several lessons in this unit, and is widely available in public and school libraries. However, a free alternative children’s book, Turning the Page–Frederick Douglass Learns to Read, and corresponding alternate lessons are now available within lessons 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 and as a separate file to accommodate schools/districts that are not able to secure a copy of Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery. 

Unit-at-a-Glance

Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • What gives stories and poems their enduring power?
  • When you write a story, how does your purpose and audience shape how you tell that story?
  • How can you use language, images, and theme to give the story you write enduring power?
  • Stories and poems have enduring power because they tell about important or interesting events, people, and places; they have themes that help readers understand the world and often empower people; and they use powerful language and powerful images.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read literature and informational text about slavery, abolition, and Douglass. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies Practices and Themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content.

These intentional connections are described below.

Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework:

http://engageny.org/sites/default/files/resource/attachments/ss-framewor...

Social Studies Key Ideas and Conceptual Understandings, Grade 7

  • 7.7b Enslaved African Americans resisted slavery in various ways. The abolitionist movement also worked to raise awareness and generate resistance to the institution of slavery.

This unit also has connections to visual arts standards:

Students will actively engage in the processes that constitute creation and performance in the arts (dance, music, theatre, and visual arts) and participate in various roles in the arts. (standard 1) (from http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/arts/artstand/arts1.html)

Texts

Texts to buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please refer to Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Cover Text Quantity ISBNs
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
by Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery
by William Miller
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978-1880000427, 1880000423
The People Could Fly: The Picture Book
by Virginia Hamilton
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978- 0375824050, 0375824057

Texts included in the unit

Texts that are included in the lesson materials.

Cover Text Quantity Publisher
Turning the Page - Frederick Douglass Learns to Read
by Amanda Hamilton Roos
Alternate free book, downloadable at EngageNY.org and commoncoresuccess.elschools.org.
American Reading Company, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61406-683-5, 1-61406-683-3

Assessments

ELA G7:M3:U3:L4

Mid-Unit Assessment

ELA G7:M3:U3:L5

ELA G7:M3:U3:L9

Optional Activities

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read literature and informational text about slavery, abolition, and Douglass. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies Practices and Themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content.

These intentional connections are described below.

Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework:

http://engageny.org/sites/default/files/resource/attachments/ss-framewor...

Social Studies Key Ideas and Conceptual Understandings, Grade 7

  • 7.7b Enslaved African Americans resisted slavery in various ways. The abolitionist movement also worked to raise awareness and generate resistance to the institution of slavery.

This unit also has connections to visual arts standards

Students will actively engage in the processes that constitute creation and performance in the arts (dance, music, theatre, and visual arts) and participate in various roles in the arts. (standard 1) (from http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/arts/artstand/arts1.html)

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