Play: The Girl Who Got Arrested
Why use this lesson? By reading our civil rights play, viewing video of about 15-year-old civil rights heroine Claudette Colbert, and engaging in a focused class discussion, students will gain a deep appreciation for an unsung hero of the civil rights movement, as they build their skills in
fluency, nonfiction text features, and critical thinking.
Lesson Type: class reading, reading for information
Skill focus: nonfiction text features, fluency, play format
Content area connection: Civil Rights (social studies)
To read a play about a little-known teenager who was instrumental in the civil rights movement, and use video clips to enhance student appreciation of the time, events, and characters central to the play.
Estimated time: 45-60 minutes
•Examine photos and captions in the play (to activate prior knowledge of the civil rights movement
•Show a brief video to introduce Claudette Colvin.
•Read the play aloud today
•Show a longer video with footage of Claudette Colvin talking to students today.
•Project or print a factual details activity sheet
You will need...
•The January issue of Storyworks
“The Girl Who Got Arrested” play on page 16 of this issue
•The PDF of the article for your whiteboard
•A reproducible skills sheet with vocabulary and civil rights terms from the play
•Video link to show before reading
A brief video (1 min, 25 sec) with images depicting Claudette Colvin’s story, set to “Amazing Grace on the guitar
•Video link to show after reading
A more extended video (3 min, 28 sec) with Claudette Colvin herself discussing the actions she took
• Two skills sheet activities for your interactive whiteboard or for printing
Step-by-Step Lesson Plan
1. Pre-reading Discussion and Video
Project the play onto your whiteboard, and focus on the photo on p. 17 of Dr. Martin Luther King leading a march.
•Ask students to identify him and briefly share what they know about him.
•Then focus on the photos of Rosa Parks and the bus on p. 19. Ask: “Who was Rosa Parks?”
•Photo of Claudette Colvin on p. 16. Tell students that they are going to read a play about her.
•Show video #1
2. Vocabulary Preview
Download and project our Civil Rights Vocabulary skills sheet. Review terms with students to help them understand as they read.
3. Group reading
Have students volunteer to read the parts of the various characters in the play. As they read, make sure they are aware that the events depicted really happened. (See historical note below)
4. Post-Reading/Listening discussion
Ask students the following questions and have an open discussion with a free exchange of ideas.
Answers to this are available on our answer key website, under the
"Read.Think. Explain activity sheet
• How did the discussion in Mrs. Nesbitt’s class affect Claudette and the action of the play?
• As police dragged Claudette out of her seat, she cried, “It’s my constitutional right!” What does that mean?
• How did the arrests of Claudette and others prepare the black community to respond to Rosa Parks’s situation?
• When Claudette Colvin testified, how was she like Harriet Tubman? Why was testifying risky?
•What did Claudette explain in her testimony? What can you tell about her from it?
Show the after-reading video with Philip Hoose, author of Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, and Claudette Colvin herself.
•Ask: What does she mean when she says she felt Sojourner Truth pushing her down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman pushing her down on the other? (Sojourner Truth, 1797-1883, was a former slave who fought for the abolition of slavery and for women’s rights.)
•How did she feel when she was locked in jail? What is her advice to teenagers?
5. Project or download and print our skills sheet “Identifying Factual Details.”
Thiscan be done as a class or independently.
Historical Note: The trial depicted in Scene 4 was Browder v. Gayle. This case provided the legal challenge to segregated buses. Civil rights lawyers decided that although Rosa Parks’s case was ideal to lead the public to boycott, other cases were more suited to challenge the constitutionality of the segregated system. Four plaintiffs, Claudette Colvin, Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith, all of whom had been mistreated by the Montgomery city bus system, filed a suit against W.A. Gayle, the mayor of Montgomery. In June1956, a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court in Alabama ruled that segregation on buses is unconstitutional. In December, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed the decision. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, sparked by Rosa Parks, ended the following day.
Poetry: Come Little Leaves
Why use this lesson? Through discussion of what we learn from images and examining both images and text of a classic poem about the change of seasons, students will gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between words and images in poetry. They will also gain new insights about how ideas can be presented graphically.
Lesson Type: Class poetry reading, understanding the visual format of the poem
Skill focus: Visual literacy, themes of poetry
To use visual-literacy skills to understand a classic poem.
Estimated Time: 30-45 minutes
• Explain to students what visual literacy is by discussing the meaning of a set of “smiley-face” images
• Have students look for meaning in the illustrations that accompany the poem
• Read and discuss the poem
• Distribute an activity sheet where students will create their own graphic interpretation of one of the poem’s verses
You will need...
• The January issue of Storyworks
“Come Little Leaves” on page 32 of this issue
• The PDF of the poem for your whiteboard
• Link for visual images for before reading
A sampling of “smiley-face” graphics will help you explain that visual literacy refers to understanding meaning from an image.
• Link for music that accompanies poem (optional)
This National Institute of Environmental Health Services features the poem and accompanying music.
• Link to longer version of poem
• Two activity sheets to project or print and distribute to students
(Click here for a visual literacy activity.)
(Click here for a set of discussion questions. They are also included below.)
Step-by-Step Lesson Plan
1. Pre-reading discussion and image viewing
• Project the smiley-face images onto your whiteboard.
• Ask students to explain what some of them mean.
• Explain that “visual literacy” means getting information from visual images. Images can help you understand a text you’re reading and can also give you interesting ideas about it.
2. View the poem
• Project the poem onto your whiteboard. Ask students to focus on the illustrations before the words.
• Ask: What does the page look similar to? (a comic strip) In what order should you read the frames?
• Look at individual frames with students. If possible, use the shade or mask tool to hide the text.
• Ask: What can you tell about this poem from the graphics? Who are the characters in the poem? What are they doing? What season is it?
3. Read the poem
Ask a volunteer to read the poem aloud as students follow along on the projection or individual copies of the magazine. If you would like, go to the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Web site, and play the tune that often goes along with the poem.
4. Post-reading discussion
Ask students the following questions with a free exchange of ideas.
Answers to this are available on our answer key Web site under the “Critical Thinking: Read. Think. Explain.” activity sheet
• Why are the frames in the poem irregularly shaped?
• Do you think the comic-book style makes this poem more or less interesting to read? Why?
5. Activity sheet
• Distribute the “Make Your Own Graphic Poem” visual –literacy activity sheet.
• Go to the link for the longer poem and scroll down to project the five-verse version of this poem.
• Have students create their own graphic illustration of one of the two verses (verse 3 or 4) not included in Storyworks.