A gift is something that is given willingly to someone without payment. Who can honestly say that they don't like receiving gifts? What happens when the gift of a better life is suddenly taken away? In the story, One Friday Morning, the main character is confronted with the issues of racial discrimination that crushed the aspirations and promises of young black Americans during the 1920s. Nancy Lee's pride in America is tested when racial prejudice, pride, and preference is at odds in the American dream she once believed in. Students will begin to understand the unfair nature of racism when a deserving young woman loses out on a future based on her skin color.
As students walk into the classroom, the following prompt is on the whiteboard
How would you feel if you were given something then had it taken away because you were deemed "undeserving" of the gift?
Students will read and respond to gift prompt on a note card found on their desks. The use of the writing prompt allows students to get in tune with their emotions and describe their personal feelings behind gaining and losing something simultaneously. It is true that some students may give short, word answers. Others who really respond to the question begin to see how Nancy Lee felt during a time where hope in a nation can be lost with just a single decision, action, or belief.
The popularity of this man has been studied in many ELA classrooms around the world. Students have read many of his poems and understood the struggles he told of black Americans during times of racial inequality.When studying the work of an author, it is important to understand the influences that supports the wording or images of his/her works.
To begin this section, students will watch a video clip on Hughes, recounting the events of his life and the ideas that his writings stood for. At this time, students are just watching the clip. No notes will be taken since Hughes is a poet that we study often in my school. However, teachers can extend this activity by having students make predictions about how Nancy Lee and Hughes are alike and different. Because Langston Hughes writes about the challenges both he and black Americans faced, students can begin to make connections between the two individuals' lives.
Now it is time to read One Friday Morning! There are so many ways that this can be done. Because I have established text-dependent questions for students to answer after reading, the first interaction that students will do with the text will occur independently.
Students are welcomed to annotate the passage as they read. It will take students some time to read the story especially if they are slower readers. However, the story line is simple and the plot of the story builds as more incidents occur in the story. Once students finish reading, they will answer the One Friday Morning questions with their shoulder buddy. At this present time, students are finally talking to each other about what was read and how it impacted their understanding of the story.
I only allotted one class period for analysis of this story so many of the literary skills and talk was eliminated from the lesson. For teachers that want to broaden students' understanding of the story, a vocabulary lesson can be done on the use of the sophisticated words that students may not recognize in the story. In addition, students can create a plot diagram describing how the problem in the story is developed over time. From here a classroom discussion can be held on which story element (characters, setting, theme, etc.) had the greatest impact on the story. See my teacher reflection on One Friday Morning on why my instructional decisions were made and its impact on this lesson!
This lesson has allowed us to look at the changes individuals make once they take a RISK. To bring this idea to a close, I ask students to turn their notecards (from the warm-up) over and respond to the following prompt:
What risks were involved in the story?
From our classroom share-out, students' responses to risks allowed them to understand that every risk involves some change that occurred in the story. This exiting activity allows students to reflect on the big ideas of the text while using its evidence to support how changes will look in the story if the risks had never occurred.