Analyzing Real World Connections and Conflicts in Richard Wright's Autobiography: Black Boy

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SWBAT analyze and explain real world connections and inner and outer conflicts related to the literary work “Black Boy” by reviewing Richard Wright's biography and reading Chapter 1 of "Black Boy".

Big Idea

Discussing the insidious effects of racism leads to an understanding of conflict,


20 minutes

I lengthened the amount of time spent on this lesson's activator because I want the students to engage in student to student discourse which will take additional time.

Working with a partner I ask students to look at photos related to racism, discuss what they see and how does it make them feel and why?  After their discussion they write their responses in their journals.

Each pair of students have a different photo 1 and photo 2  to comment on.  I circulate among the class checking for understanding and ask probing questions when necessary.  

Common core speaking and listening standard SL.9-10.4 requires students to present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically.  To complete the activity I project each photo on a screen using a docucamera and ask each pair of students to share what they wrote.

The purpose of this activator is to bring in prior knowledge and create a mind set for the first chapter of the novel Black Boy which introduces American during a time when racism was prevalent in our society.

Building Knowledge

25 minutes

After looking and discussing the photos, I expect that many students will express their opinion that even though our society has come a long way, racism still exists. I begin by presenting a power point presentation Richard Wright of a short biography of Richard Wright which includes documentary video clip. As in past lessons, I use the power point to inform students as well as to encourage them to think and analyze the authors life and its challenges.

While reading the slides I ask students to take "quick notes" in their journals of Richard Wright which they can refer to later in the unit.

I end this part of the lesson with a short discussion of the role of autobiographical writing as an exploration of an author’s life and a way of coping with conflicts in life RL.9-10.3.



Student learning Activity

20 minutes

I hand out Chapter 1 of Black Boy.  I copied the chapter because I want them to annotate on the pages.  As RI.9-10.1 requires, I ask students to read the first three pages while,  underlining evidence of inner or outer conflict Richard experienced as a young boy.

I circulate among the class checking for understanding as students read and annotate the text. I ask questions about words they underlined and did not underline.  

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Group Share

I facilitate a a reporting out as students share evidence of conflicts. The guidelines for this group share require students:

  1. to give the page showing evidence of conflict 
  2. then read the sentence clarifying the type of conflict and 
  3. explain why 

I end the lesson in this way to help students gain confidence in discussing and applying lessons using higher order thinking skills.  Often it appears that they are surprised at their own knowledge and interpretations.