Share these activities with your students before, during, or after the module to build engagement and invite interest in module texts and to extend students’ interest in the module topics and themes after reading.
GRADE 8: MODULE 1
Text(s): “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg
Visual Expression: Painting
Sandburg likens the city of Chicago to a person in many places throughout the poem.
Verbal Expression: Poem
Carl Sandburg was inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem “Manhatta” to write his poem about Chicago. Both poems convey the great energy of a city as they list the many workers engaged there.
Text(s): A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
Social Justice/Equality: Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s
When Laura Hansberry was a child, her family challenged the status quo by moving into a racially restricted white neighborhood in Chicago. This action resulted in a court case that made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in Hansberry v. Lee. While the Supreme Court ruled against neighborhood restrictions, the practice continued. Do research to learn more about racial discrimination in the 1950s and the struggle for equality. Choose a focus:
Text(s): Excerpts from The Titan by Theodore Dreiser
Content Areas: Slideshow of Chicago in the Early 1900s
When Frank Algernon Cowperwood, the main character of The Titan, moves from Philadelphia to Chicago, he compares the two cities. He describes Chicago as “obviously infinitely worse” but also “better….more youthful.” In 1800, Philadelphia was the largest city in the United States, while Chicago was not even incorporated as a town until 1833. Work with a small group to research life in Chicago in the early 1900s and create a slideshow presentation.
Text(s): “Long-Suffering Cubs Fans Hope Blasted Ball Puts End to Cubs ‘Curse’” by Monica Davey
Performance Arts: Oral Story
In her article, Monica Davey moves back and forth in time as she describes the Cubs’ long quest and failure to win the World Series in 2004. In doing so, she is able to convey suspense, the intense feelings of those involved, and humor regarding the demolition of the ball. How might you retell the story in sequence in a way that captures the interest of your listeners?
Text(s): The Great Fire by Jim Murphy
Performance Arts: Sound Recording
The Great Fire includes many descriptive details, including the sounds of sirens, strong winds, and people shouting for family members or yelling for help. The author also imagines dialogue between firefighters as they struggle to contain the fire.
Social Justice/Diversity: Poster
In the text, Jim Murphy makes the point that after the fire, prominent business people in Chicago promoted the idea that “certain types” were to blame for problems during the catastrophe. These business people scapegoated immigrants and the poor in order to dispel doubts about Chicago being a great place to invest.
Text(s): All Module Texts
Across the Module: American Dream Collage
The phrase “American dream” comes from a 1931 book by the historian James Truslow Adams, who defined it as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone.” It is a dream with the power to motivate, inspire, and also disappoint.
GRADE 8: MODULE 2
Text(s): Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip House
Performance Arts: Dramatic Scene
This text depicts many indignities of segregation that Claudette Colvin experienced as a young girl and the important events that shaped her activism as a teenager. In a small group, act out two or three important experiences or events.
Text(s): “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr.
Social Justice/Equality: Timeline
Work with a partner to find out more about Martin Luther King Jr’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
Text(s): “Nobel Lecture” by Malala Yousafzai
NOTE: Guide students in understanding that fundamentalism is by no means confined to Muslims or the Islamic faith, nor are most Muslims fundamentalists. There are fundamentalists in all the world’s major religions, but in all cases they are a minority.
Content Connection: Social Studies
Some people have theorized that the rise of democracy and secularism in place of religion has created a backlash in the form of groups such as the Taliban, who tried to kill Malala for promoting education and equality for girls. Such groups, also called fundamentalists, favor returning to what they understand as the fundamental rules of their religion.
Text(s): “Frankenstein” by Khadim Diop
Verbal Expression: Group Discussion
The name Frankenstein comes from Mary Shelley’s novel of the same name, which was published anonymously in 1818. The word refers both to the fictional scientist who created a human form from assembled dead body parts and brought them to life and to the scientist’s creation. In a small group, discuss possible meanings of the word as used in the podcast.
Social Justice/Equality: Collage
Khadim Diop’s rap emphasizes his hurt and pain as he describes injustices he has suffered as an African American. His podcast, however, also serves as a challenge to white society, to which he speaks.
Text(s): All Module Texts
Across the Module: Role-Play Review
Imagine that you are a reviewer and you have to decide which three selections from the module belong in an anthology. Evaluate each selection from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest rating, using the following criteria: 1) how it adds to your understanding of the topic and 2) its appeal to 8th graders.
Social Justice/Equality: Community Project
The texts in this module focus on the efforts of activists—some of them just teenagers– to work for social justice. In a small group, develop a way to respond to inequality or injustice in your community.
Teaching Extension: Build Background Knowledge
Conduct a PHOTO SET or GALLERY WALK using images of important or illustrative events from the fight for civil rights. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has several photographic collections that could be used to expose students to Jim Crow in the South and to key events in the Civil Rights movement.
GRADE 8: MODULE 3
All Module Texts
Teaching Extension: Social Sensitivity (Racism)
Access and read tools to support teaching sensitive topics, such as:
Text(s): To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Teaching Extension: Discussion of the N-Word and Racism
If time allows, have students read the Kennedy and Francis articles and view the video. Use the main points and context in the final bullet before opening discussion if your students need more support.
Performance Arts: Talk Show Role-Play
Imagine that characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are being interviewed on a talk show after all the events have taken place. Explore their points of view through a role-play of the talk show.
Content Areas: Music
Select a theme song for two or three characters in the novel. A song may reflect a character’s attitudes or beliefs, your own attitude toward the character, or your ideas about the character’s importance in the novel.
Visual/Verbal Expression: Tableaux
Work in a small group to interpret scenes from the text and present them as frozen scenes. Write descriptive captions to explain each scene’s importance in the story.
Present each tableau for the class. Challenge classmates to identify the scene. Then read your caption aloud to explain the importance you assign to the scene.
Text(s): To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee + Screenplay of To Kill A Mockingbird by Horton Foote: http://mentalslapstick.com/_pdfs/ToKillAMockingbird.pdf
Performance Arts: Cast Meeting
In a small group plan the direction of some scenes from the screenplay.
Verbal Expression: Section of Screenplay
With a partner, create your own screenplay for a short section of the novel.
Social Justice/Equality: Court Case Simulation
Even after the ratification of the 14th and 15th Amendments in 1868 and 1870, many states were able to enact segregation laws. In fact, the Supreme Court had ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that segregated facilities, if equal, did not violate the Constitution. In the 1930s, the time period of the novel, African American attorneys made the decision to use the legal system to challenge segregation as part of a long-term strategy. Finally, in 1952, another court case, Brown v. Board of Education, reached the Supreme Court and succeeded in overturning Plessy v. Ferguson. Work in a small group to present the arguments made by the two teams of lawyers.
GRADE 8: MODULE 4
All Module Texts
NOTE: The first Teaching Extension activity is ideal for background building at the beginning of the module. The video in the second Teaching Extension should be shown at any point prior to reading the play. In addition, there are resources provided in the Pacing Plan for use during the Lesson 13 Pause Point. These resources may of course be used elsewhere in the module if desired. Finally, the many nonfiction background articles that students read during the lessons may also provide useful information for teacher background and additional extension or engagement ideas.
Teaching Extension: Background on Shakespeare’s Times
Teaching Extension: Sharing a Video
Content Areas: Science
The Elizabethan era was a time of great advances in science and technology. While scholars debate the extent of Shakespeare’s knowledge, his works show some degree of awareness.
Text(s): A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare and “Shakespeare’s Life and Times” (https://www.rsc.org.uk/shakespeares-life-and-times)
Content Areas: Literary Allusions
Authors have always borrowed from each other to retell these essential stories in new ways. “Shakespeare: Life and Times” points out that Shakespeare borrowed characters and even plots from other writers. In Midsummer Night’s Dream, some of the characters put on a play based on the story of Pyramus and Thisbe. This story comes from Metamorphoses, a long poem by the Roman poet Ovid. Ovid in turn borrowed and retold stories from Greek mythology.
Find out more about the way authors use previously writings as material.
Text(s): “Shakespeare’s Theatre” (https://www.folger.edu/shakespeares-theater) and Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Visual Expression: Set Design
“Shakespeare’s Theatre” explains that stages and set designs in Shakespeare’s time were usually simple since a play might be taken on tour or performed in a noble’s courtyard or in the royal palace. Imagine that you are designing the set for a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Content Areas: Social Studies
The article also points out that theatres had little money for costumes. Players often wore second-hand clothes, previously owned by real-life nobles. Audiences enjoyed seeing the lavish clothing even if it was in disrepair.
Text(s): “How Shakespeare Influences the Way We Speak Now” (http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20140527-say-what-shakespeares-words)
Visual Expression: Collage
According to the article, phrases and lines from Shakespeare’s poems and plays are used in everyday language and in all the arts. In fact, some composers, choreographers, and artists use quotes from Shakespeare in the titles of their works.
Text(s): “Shakespeare and Love” (http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/article/shakespearelibrary/shakespeareandlove) and Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Connecting Texts: Poem
In “Shakespeare and Love,” you read about ways that Shakespeare wrote about love. In Midsummer Night’s Dream, he used both prose and blank verse to explore some of his ideas about love. In “Shakespeare and Love,” you read about other ways that Shakespeare wrote about love. Blank verse consists of lines that have ten syllables each and do not rhyme. A syllable with a short stress is followed by a syllable with a long stress. Write a poem in blank verse to express some of your ideas about love.
Text(s): A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
NOTE: You may want to explain that it is common practice with plays to refer to acts, scenes, and lines with Roman numerals, e.g. II.ii.50 refers to Act 2, Scene 2, line 50, while V.i.133 refers to Act 5, Scene 1, line 133. The lessons for A Midsummer Night’s Dream often follow this convention, however, some editions of the text may not. They may instead use Arabic numerals, e.g. Act 1, Scene 2, Line 50, both in the lines of the play and the glossary on each adjacent page. Briefly review Roman numerals up to 20 to ensure that students can navigate the text and connect it to instruction.
Visual Expression: Cartoon Strip
Depict one of the scenes from the play in a cartoon strip.
Verbal Expression: News Report
Imagine that you are a news reporter whose job is to report on the events in the woods. You have just learned that Hermia has disappeared.
Content Areas: Culture
A Midsummer Night’s Dream ends with the weddings of three couples. A wedding is one way that people formalize their partnership. It usually includes a formal ceremony that involves the couple and a religious or other leader, as well as sometimes family members. The couple make promises about their partnership. Sometimes this ceremony is followed by a celebration or party of some kind that includes family and friends. Choose one of the couples and imagine a wedding or other ritual to celebrate a partnership.
Performance Arts: Tableaux Vivants
Work in a small group to create a tableau vivant, or living picture, of a part of the play. Ideally, the part should be less than 50 lines. Create a caption that explains the importance of the scene.
Text(s): All Module Texts
NOTE: You may want to share the Diversity in Wheatley entry as well as the Grade 8 rows of the chart that follows it to provide a starting point for discussion about diversity in literacy curricula. Clarify that Wheatley’s definition of diversity is one of many and encourage students to discuss how they might change that definition.
Across the Module: Group Discussion
In this module, you’ve read Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as many articles exploring Shakespeare’s innovativeness, his richness of thought and language, and his influence on modern culture and language. You’ve also read articles debating the value of teaching Shakespeare to young people. In a small group, discuss the optimal literature for a grade 8 class consisting of students from diverse cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
GRADE 8: MODULE 5
All Module Texts
Teaching Extension: Teaching Sensitive Topics (Racism)
“World War I Was World’s First ‘Total War’” by Jennifer D. Keene: https://newsela.com/read/gl-history-world-war-I/id/23712
“Combat and the Soldier’s Experience in World War One” by Vanda Wilcox: http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/combat-and-soldiers-experiences
Visual Expression: Posters
Content Areas: Science and Technology
Text(s): The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks
For the second activity, encourage students who can play an instrument or sing to perform one of the featured songs or share their own recording of it.
Social Justice/Equality: Group Discussion and Timeline
Max Brooks begins the text with an 1863 quote by Frederick Douglass and and ends with a 1919 quote by W. E. B. DuBois. Both men played important roles in African American history and in the struggle for racial equality. Work with a small group to create a timeline that shows events in the men’s lives and their contributions.
Content Areas: Music
James Reese Europe had been a popular and accomplished jazz musician before the war. As leader of the 396th Infantry Band, he helped lift the spirits of many soldiers, including generals. Work with a small group to explore James Reese Europe’s music and his role in spreading jazz to Europe.
Text(s): All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Verbal Expression: Haikus
A haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that uses three lines of five, seven, and five syllables to create an image. This image is meant to arouse emotion or lead to a special insight. Write three haikus that reflect your understanding of ideas in All Quiet on the Western Front.
Visual Expression: Set Design
Imagine that you are the set designer for a play adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front.
You may wish to create a sign-up sheet for the class to avoid duplication. Alternatively, you might decide that it is fine for more than one student to read a poem.
Performance Arts: Poetry Reading
The poems in this module convey the poets’ feelings about war and death. Hardy’s poem, unlike those of Seeger and McCrae, expresses an anti-war sentiment. Participate in a reading of poems by writers who fought in World War I. The reading should include other poems in addition to those in the module.