Maya Angelou: Study and response to "Still I Rise"

7th - 8th

 “Still I Rise,” is the focus of a two-day exercise that asks learners to trace the development of the theme of emotional opposites (hopelessness/rising above adversity) by highlighting details in Maya Angelou’s poem. They then craft their own antonym poem of negative and positive emotions (left out/chosen, ugly/beautiful) that shows how they feel. Links to the poem and a short biography of Angelou are included.

Resource Details

Instructional Design
3 hrs

Vocabulary Study: Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

If you are studying Esperanza Rising, this is a great resource for teaching and practicing vocabulary from the novel. A total of 50 vocabulary words are included, split up into five lists of ten, and labeled by chapter. Each word is paired with a definition, part of speech, common derivatives, and a sentence from the book. Practice and assess the words with the included fill-in-the-blank exercises, multiple choice test, and essay assignment.

Writing, Critique, and Revising: Two-Voice Poems (Chapter 14: "Las Ucas/Grapes")

Continue work on the two-piece poem that compares two characters from Esperanza Rising. Give class members a few minutes to finish their drafts. After they have a complete product, model how to critique and edit the poems with one group. Pupils will learn and use the praise-question-suggest protocol to provide specific feedback, and then revise. Refer to lesson 13 of this series for setup and instructions for the two-voice poem. The lesson also scales back on some of the scaffolding. Less time is spent discussing the text than in previous lessons; however, the reduction in scaffolding feels natural and will be a nice break for learners.

Mid-Unit Assessment and Discussing Themes in Esperanza Rising: (Chapter 9: "Las Ciruelas/PLums")

Give this skills-based assessment halfway through your unit on Esperanza Rising. After a brief review, class members take the test, which asks them to show that they know how to analyze the novel independently. They are asked to summarize, discuss the importance of the title, demonstrate knowledge of characterization, make inferences, and determine the meaning of words and phrases using context clues. The test focuses on chapter nine only and class members are permitted to use their books, notes, and evidence flags. Once learners are finished with the test, they participate in a structured seminar on metaphors and themes in small groups. 

Understanding Themes in Esperanza Rising

Determining a theme or central idea is greatly emphasized in the Common Core standards. Target that skill though big metaphors and central symbols in Pam Muñoz Ryan's Esperanza Rising. Help your class reach the standard through discussion, close reading, text-based questions, a kinesthetic opinion survey, and a brief writing assignment. Every step is detailed, and every material is provided in this intelligently sequenced plan, which is part of a series.

Revisiting Big Metaphors and Themes: Revising and Beginning to Perform Two-Voice Poems

Now that your class has read all of Esperanza Rising, take the time to tackle big metaphors and themes. Pupils will participate in an activity called Chalk Talk, in which they circulate around the room in small groups and add comments to charts that are labeled with five metaphors in the novel. Conduct a whole-class discussion on this activity, leaving some time to perform the two-voice poems that were written previously. Part of a well-sequenced series, the lesson will help wrap up the novel and big ideas.

Gathering Evidence and Drafting a Two-Voice Poem (Chapter 13: "Los Duraznos/Peaches")

Begin class with a short comprehension quiz and review and then move into a new genre: two-voice poems. The lesson provides information about this type of poetry as well as a video example made by eighth graders that you can show your class. After watching and listening, class members can refer to the included transcript as they compose their own two-voice poems comparing and contrasting two characters from the novel Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan. Spend some time discussing text features and previous notes about the characters before sending pupils off with their graphic organizers to draft their poems with a partner or small group. Close by sharing golden lines from the poems.

Themes in Poetry

Students explore different types of poetry. In this poetry lesson plan, students understand different poetry themes. Students note rhyming and discuss what the poem means. Students work in small groups to act out what is happening in the poem.

Using Poetry to End Name Calling

Learners explore language arts by participating in poetry writing activities. In this conflict management lesson, students discuss the emotions that they feel when being teased and discussed. Learners read a Maya Angelou poem titled "Still I Rise" and answer study questions about the content.

Maya Angelou: Study and Response to "Still I Rise"

Eighth graders read biographical information on Maya Angelou and her poem, "Still I Rise." students identify support and elaboration in poem, then respond by either writing a letter to the author or his/her own poem in response.

Maya Angelou: Study and Response to "Still I Rise"

Eighth graders respond personally to poetry. In this poem analysis instructional activity, 8th graders analyze the biographical poem of Maya Angelou titled "Still I Rise." Students elaborate on the language and theme of the poem as they respond to discussion questions about it. Students then write antonym poems in response to Angelou's poem.

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