The following lesson plans are designed for an eighth grade classroom. The period for each class is 52 minutes. The lesson may need to be adapted in certain ways for your classroom, but this will give you the basic format of the course. I have taken one pair, "Raymond's Run" and "Harlem," to show how the unit should work. These three lessons will take you from the observation of artwork, discussion, journal entries and sharing and a transition to the next pair. Simply repeat the pattern with the other pairs.
By the time you are at this point, you'll have already read Bambara's "Raymond's Run," discussed the story as you do any literature and are ready to move to the second piece, "Harlem." What are not shown here are your pre-reading exercises with the artwork and your basic literary comprehension work that you normally do when teaching a story.
Sample Lesson One-Squeaky's Voice
- Students will brainstorm adjectives that describe Squeaky and her world; Harlem
- Students will read sections of the story out loud
- Students will imitate Squeaky's voice in their journals
- Students will share journals
- Text, journals
Start the class by asking students what an adjective is. Someone will give you a good definition with some prodding and then you can ask students to call out some adjectives for you. Now ask students to list some adjectives that describe Squeaky and her setting. Some adjectives they might come up with will be hard, beautiful, tough, daring, etc. Share some lists with the class.
Once students have shared some of their adjectives have a conversation about how Squeaky resembles the city, how she has become a product of her environment. Students should be sort of primed for this exercise because by this point in the unit you have already gone through several pairs and discussed characters relation to setting.
Next have some brave student read some dialogue from the text. There are plenty of places in the text where Squeaky's character really shines through her words. Students love reading it out loud and using dramatic license to act tough like squeaky. This leads to the journal assignment for this lesson.
Ask students to imitate Bambara's style in a monologue that they can share with the class. They can make up their own character or just use Squeaky. Ask students to keep close to the theme by having their character describe a place in their lives, a home, a hideaway, their favorite hang out. Ask students to share their work. If you don't get to everyone in one class let them continue the next day.
Go back to the adjectives you started the class with. Do any of them apply to the students' new characters? What is it that makes the characters that they created similar to the one that Bambara created?
Sample Lesson Plan-Two- Harlem in Poetry
- Students will listen to the poem "Harlem" written by Walter Dean Meyers
- Students will identify images from the poem
- Students will create a web in which they will write images of their own hometown
- Students will write poems named after their own hometowns
- Students will share poetry
- Students' journals
- "Harlem" by Walter Dean Meyers (recorded version if possible)
- tape recorder
- web organizers
Ask students what an image is. Take a few minutes to talk about how important images are to poets. I often tell students poets paint pictures in our minds through words and images. Ask students to give you examples of images from literature or poetry that they are familiar with.
After talking about images, ask students to listen closely as Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs reads Harlem to them from cassette. The Scholastic Book recording and illustrated version of this poem is wonderful for this part of the unit. Students listen very closely and you can have a student show the class the illustrations in the book as it is read. Before beginning ask students to jot down the images that really strike them. There are many images in the poem that the students love.
Ask the class to share the images that they enjoyed. Reiterate how images really put a picture in our minds through some of the examples. Now give students a web organizer. Ask them to write their own hometown in the center and to think of some images that remind them of their hometown. Share some of the images they come up with.
Now students are ready to write their own hometown poem. They may have to finish it for homework. Be sure to share with the class.
If anyone is ready ask them to share their poem!
Sample Lesson Three- The Life Maps
Sample lesson three begins the cumulating art project for the unit, the Life Map. I want students to create a map of the places and buildings and settings that have made them what they are today. They can illustrate, make collages, sculpture, whatever you and they agree on. I highly recommend that teachers go ahead and make their own life maps before asking the students to do so. It may be a hard project to do if it is simply an abstract idea inside of your head. Take a look at the rubric in the back of this unit (Appendix B)
- Students will brainstorm places and settings that have been a part of their lives
- Students will create a fictional map of these places in a creative arts project
- Students will connect the literature to their projects (examples of uncomfortable public places, feeling out of place, etc.)
- Students will share projects with the class
- Magazines that can be cut up
- Art supplies (glue, scissors, crayons markers, pencils, rulers, colored paper, etc)
Show students a map of New York. Identify Harlem. Ask students to name some of the places that Squeaky would want to identify if she were labeling a map of Harlem. What might Walter Dean Meyers label? Would Robert Frost know any places in Harlem?
Ask students what places they would identify on a map of places in their lives. Get a couple of ideas and then ask students to list a dozen or so. Explain to students that they will create "Life Maps" made up of the places that influenced them most in their lives.
Show the students your "Life map." Explain some of the locations on it, ask them how they think the locations touched you or made you who you are. Share some stories that rise out of your life map.
Now brainstorm some ideas with your students. Explain your map is not the only way to do the project. Ask them how else they might create "Life maps." Then simply let the students go with the project. I may take a few days to get through it, but is should be a very rewarding experience for both you and your students.
Share students' "Life Maps" daily.