Africa: Accessing Prior Knowledge to Prepare for Analyzing Things Fall Apart

11 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT discuss and share knowledge about the countries, people, and history of Africa by accessing prior knowledge and searching the internet to validate their findings.

Big Idea

How many countries in Africa? Languages spoken? Religion? Famous writers, musicians, athletes? What do you know about Africa?

Things Fall Apart Unit Introduction

Let's Get Started: A Quick Review of Symbol In "Her Three Days"

20 minutes

Students had to write a literary device for the short story "Her Three Days" for homework.  A literary device requires the students to identify a literary element in a text (symbol, metaphor, personification, etc). Next they write a function paragraph that establishes the context of the example, explains how the device is used in the text, and finally, connects the device to the text as a whole.  

I begin class by asking them to take out their homework.  I tell them to find a partner who also has their homework completed.  I quickly review the purpose of a literary device and their homework assignment.  A literary device as students to analyze the impact of a specific literary term in a text. They have to identify the context of the term, the concept of the term, and how the term connects to the text as a whole (L9-10 5a and RL.9-10.4). They were assigned the term symbol in the short story "Her Three Days."

I tell them to trade papers and provide feedback on how their partner can improve their literary device (W 9-10. 5). I give them the following guiding questions:

Does your partner correctly define the device?

Does the example fit the definition of the device?

In the function paragraph,

Is the context clear? (including title and author)

Does your partner adequately analyze how symbol works in the text?

Is there a clear connection to the text as a whole?

Next, they return each other papers and I ask them to rewrite their device based on the feedback from their peer (W.9-10.5) 

Building Knowledge: A Visual Understanding of Contemporary Africa

10 minutes

After they turn in their revisions, I tell them to stick with their partners.  It is time for our introduction to Africa. I assess prior knowledge by beginning by addressing the difference between continents and countries. I ask them if the United States is a continent or a country. Then I ask them what other countries are in the same continent as the USA.

Now, I tell them we are going to examine the continent of Africa. I know some of the student studied Africa in world history but not all of them seem confident in their knowledge.  I give each pair a white sheet of paper and tell them to draw and label a map of Africa.  They need to include countries but capitals are not necessary. In order to maximize the information on their maps, I tell them to list any countries they know but don't know where they go on the map on the side of the map. 

After about five minutes or so, I monitor their progress to determine who much time they need.  I ask them to share their map of Africa with their table mates.  Expectations are low, most of my students can't decide if Africa is a county or a continent. This map gives all of us a clue on their awareness of the diversity of the continent. As we read Things Fall Apart, I hope they can get a feeling for the diversity of one tiny part of Nigeria. 

Building Knowledge: What Do You Know about the People, Places, and Religions of Africa?

20 minutes

Moving beyond map, we turn to political figures, famous African writers, artists and languages.I want to see what they know of the people, the plethora of languages, and artistic style in Africa. Students continue to work with their partners as they try to name as many prominent Africans as they can.  I also ask them to include what country they are from when possible (SL.9-10.1).  

When the conversations take a turn for the off topic, I ask different groups to share who makes their lists of writers, politicians, and artists which includes soccer players.

Validating Knowledge: Internet Required

20 minutes

In this section of the lesson, students use the internet to validate and expand their knowledge of historical and contemporary Africa (W 9-10. 8). I wrote the topics on the board: historical kingdoms, historical figures, European colonial countries, What years did countries in Africa get their independance, and what are the major religions in Africa?

Wrap Up: Homework--Expanding our Knowledge of Africa.

5 minutes

For homework, I ask the students to first draw an accurate map of Africa, identify the primary languages spoken in Nigeria, and identify the following people:

  • Nelson Mandela
  • Ken  Saro-Wiwa (Ongoni 9)
  • Nana Asma’u
  • Wole Soyinka
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
  • Anngelique Kidjo
  • Chinua Achebe

I chose these people because they are politicians, artists, and writers who have influenced their countries and the world.  It is an opportunity for them to see positives in contemporary Africa (W.9-10.7).