Units on African-American Culture
AN AUTHOR, ILLUSTRATOR, AND POET
by Melissa Johnson
Art DramaExperiencesLiteratureListening
MathMusicPoetryReadingResearch
Social StudiesSpeakingScienceTechnologyWriting

Cooperative LearningDiscovery CenterEvaluationsStrategies

AN AUTHOR, ILLUSTRATOR, AND POET
OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE

OUTLINE


GOAL: The goal for this unit is for the students to experience and to gain a better understanding of the life of an author, illustrator, and poet while learning about the African American culture.


DAY ONE: INTRODUCTION TO UNIT - Today the students will describe an author, be introduced to Virginia Hamilton, discuss the details of a story, and receive their daily journal.

DAY TWO: BECOMING FAMILIAR WITH THE AUTHOR - Today the students will hear an excerpt from The House of Dies Drear, the students will be divided into groups, each group will research a different area to learn more about the author.

DAY THREE: PREPARATION - Today the students will use the information they found while researching to put together a group presentation and a visual aide. The students will create a rubric that will be used to grade their presentations.

DAY FOUR: PRESENTATION - Each group will present.

DAY FIVE: THE WRITING BEGINS - Today the students will hear Zeely and Drylongso. They will compare the two stories. The students will pick a subject to write about and start a story of their own.

DAY SIX: THE END - Today the students will finish writing their stories, share the stories with the class and hang them on the bulletin board, and take a written quiz on the information they’ve learned.

DAY SEVEN: THE ILLUSTRATOR - Today the students will watch a video: "Follow the Drinking Gourd - A Story of the Underground Railroad" and hear the story Stormy Night. They will compare the illustrations of both pieces.

DAY EIGHT: BECOMING FAMILIAR WITH THE ILLUSTRATOR - Today the students will look at the books: Tales of Uncle Remus and Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion. The students will compare the illustrations of each book and illustrations from day seven. Today the students will be introduced to Jerry Pinkney and create a KWL sheet.

DAY NINE: CREATIONS - Today the students will share information from the W column of the KWL sheet. The students will look at the book Yagua Days and compare the illustrations to prior pieces. Today the students will be divided into new groups to research topics on the different types of illustrations, the teacher will research the information that the students want to know about the illustrator.

DAY TEN: EXPLORING CREATIVE TECHNIQUES - Library time for the students and teacher to research.

DAY ELEVEN: WRITING ABOUT THE TECHNIQUES - Today the students will divide into their groups and determine the important information of their research from day ten. Each student will take one topic and write a report. The teacher writes out each question researched and the answer to the question.

DAY TWELVE: SHARING - Today the teacher will teach the information the students found about the different types of illustrations. Today the students will report the information the teacher found on the question they asked.

DAY THIRTEEN - SIXTEEN: BEING CREATIVE - Today the class will be divided into ‘authors’ an ‘illustrators’. The authors will be divided into two groups, each group will have two days to write a story. The illustrators will be divided into two groups, each group will illustrate one of the stories. The group who is not writing or illustrating will learn about Gwendolyn Brooks an African American Poet.

DAY SEVENTEEN: DECISION MAKING - Today the students will decide as a class which story is the better. The group who’s book was not chosen will decide on works that they want to share. The book will be made into a play by the teacher, the creators will write a summary of what the book is about and how it was created.

DAY EIGHTEEN - TWENTY: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE - Today the students will be practicing the performance they will give to the parents.

FREE TIME CENTERS - This is a list of activities, including: reading, art, Kwanzaa, and CD-ROM, that can be placed around the room for the students to use during free time of the unit. This center can be changed to accommodate your own classroom.

ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES - This is a list of other activities that can complement this unit. It includes: timeline, speakers, and field trips.
AN AUTHOR, ILLUSTRATOR, AND POET
OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE

GOAL: The main goal for this unit is for the students to experience and to gain a better understanding of the life of an author, illustrator, and poet while learning about the African American culture.

OBJECTIVES:

The students will be able to . . .
© describe what an author, illustrator, and poet does.
© participate as an author or illustrator, and poet.
© write information learned in a daily journal.
© participate in the different learning centers.
© give a presentation of the works created throughout the unit.


DAY ONE: INTRODUCTION TO UNIT
TIME: 20 minutes
SUBJECTS: SS, LA
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Book: Jaguarndi by Virginia Hamilton.
Þ Journal for each student.
Þ Students: paper and pencil.

Ask the students what they thinks an author is/does. Have the students write on a piece of paper their definition of an author, who their favorite author is, and what kind of stories he/she would write about if they were an author. Collect the papers. Tell the student’s that February is African American month and to celebrate it we will be learning about an African American author, illustrator, and poet.
Read the book Jaguarndi by Virginia Hamilton to the students. Discuss the story after reading the book: setting, characters, time, theme, . . . Ask the students why they think the author wrote the story. After discussing the book tell the students that Virginia Hamilton is the author they will be studying.
Hand out a journal to each student. Tell them that they will write the information they have learned each day in this journal. Have the students personalize their cover and write the information they have learned today.

TIME: 30 minutes
SUBJECTS: MATH
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy.
Þ Various colors of construction paper.
Þ Rulers for each student.
Þ Stapler/staples.
Þ Quilt pattern - should fit the size of a bulletin board in the room. (before the lesson you will need to determine how many of each shape each student will need to make)

Read The Patchwork Quilt to the students. Explain to the students that they will be making a quilt of their own. Express to the students the importance of tracing and cutting each piece carefully. Demonstrate to the students how to trace and cut each quilt pattern. Hand out the pieces of construction paper to the students. Write on the board how many pieces each student needs to make. Staple the pieces onto the bulletin board as the students cut them out. When the bulletin board is finished say to the students, "We are going to use this bulletin board to display your work throughout this unit." The teacher will then let the students know the title of the bulletin board or have the students create a title for the bulletin board.


DAY TWO: BECOMING FAMILIAR WITH THE AUTHOR
TIME: 40 minutes
SUBJECT: SS, LIBRARY SKILLS, LA
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Book: House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton.
Þ Students: journal, paper and pencil.
Þ 20 minutes Library time.

Review what was learned on the previous day. Explain to the students the story of The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton. Read an excerpt from the book. Have the students discuss the excerpt: setting, characters, time written, . . Divide the students into three groups. Have one group research information on Virginia Hamilton (where she was borne, where she grew up, . . .). The second group will research what books she has written and information on several of the books. The third group will research her hometown during the time she started writing. Tell the students where Virginia is from and what years you want them to cover. This will give the students an understanding of her life and the times that she lived in. In each group have the students research questions they will use to find information. After they have created several questions to research take them to the library.

DAY THREE: PREPARATION
TIME: 30 minutes
SUBJECTS: LA, ART
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Poster board, markers, crayons, old magazines, glue.
Þ Students: research information, paper, pencils and journal.

Have the students divide into their groups. Have each group review the information from their research. The students will create a rubric on how the presentations will be graded. Each group will put their information together in an organized manor to report to the class. Each group will also create a visual aide to use during their presentation.


DAY FOUR: PRESENTATION
TIME: 30 minutes
SUBJECTS: SPEECH
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Students: Presentation Information and journal.
Þ Rubric

Each group will give their presentation. After each presentation is given the students will be allowed time to write in their journal.


DAY FIVE: THE WRITING BEGINS
TIME: 30 minutes
SUBJECTS: LA
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Book: Zeely and Drylongso.
Þ Students: journal, paper and pencil.

Give the students background information on both books and read an excerpt from each. This will familiarize the students with the way Virginia Hamilton writes. Have the students pick a subject to write on. Have the students use the bubble method to brainstorm information about his/her topic. Have the begin to write a story. After the stories have been created they can be hung on the bulletin board. The students will write a reflection in their journal.


DAY SIX: THE END
TIME: 40 minutes
SUBJECTS: LA, SPEECH
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Students: paper, pencil, stories from previous day, journal.
Þ Quiz.

Create a short quiz from the information the students reported on and information discussed throughout the week. This is to be given at the end of the class period.
Have the students finish their stories. Once all the students have finished have them share their stories and why they wrote on the topic they did. Have the students review what they have learned throughout the week. Administer the quiz.


DAY SEVEN: THE ILLUSTRATOR
TIME: 45 minutes
SUBJECTS: LA, SPEECH, ART
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Video: "Follow the Drinking Gourd - A Story of the Underground Railroad", written by Bernardine Connelly, told by Morgan Freeman, Music by Taj Mahal, illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan. (run time: 30 min) ISBN: 1-57099-001-8
Þ Books: Stormy Night by Eve Bunting.
Þ Students: pencil and journal.


Watch the Video. Discuss the story and have the students describe the illustrations of the story. Have the students describe how the illustrations related to the story. Read the book Stormy Night to the students. After reading the book go through each page and have the students discuss the illustrations of the book. Ask the students how the illustrator depicts the authors thoughts. Have the students compare the books illustrations to the illustrations of the video. Write down the comparisons on the board. Have the students discuss what they would do differently with each. Have the students write their reflections in their journals.


DAY EIGHT: BECOMING FAMILIAR WITH THE ILLUSTRATOR
TIME: 30 minutes
SUBJECTS: ART, SS
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Books: Tales of Uncle Remus retold by Julius Lester and Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion by Verna Aardema.
Þ Students: paper, pencil, journal.
Þ KWL sheets.

Read one or two short tales from Tales of Uncle Remus. Have the students discuss the illustrations of the stories. Read Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion. Have the students discuss the illustrations of this story. Have the students compare the illustrations of the story (likes, differences, how the pictures were created . . .). Have the students compare the drawings to the pictures discussed on the previous day.
Introduce Jerry Pinkney to the class. Explain to them this is the illustrator they will be learning about. Hand out the KWL sheets. Have the students write in the K column what they know about the illustrator. Have them write in the W column what they want to learn about the illustrator. Have the students write their reflection in their journals.


DAY NINE: CREATIONS
TIME: 30 minutes
SUBJECTS: LA, SPEECH, ART
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Book: Yagua Days by Cruz Martel.
Þ Chalkboard/chalk or Flipchart/marker.
Þ Students: KWL sheets, pencil, paper, and journal.

Have each student share some of the statements in his/her W column. Write these on the chalkboard/flipchart. Have the students choose five to ten of the questions they feel are most important to know. Tell the students that you will be responsible for finding this information. Read the book Yagua Days. Have the students discuss the story and illustrations. Have the students compare the illustrations to the books they have already seen. Talk about the way the illustrations are created and what the illustrator uses. Divide the class into three groups (different from the first week). One group will research water color techniques. The second group will research oil painting techniques. The third group will research photography techniques.

DAY TEN: EXPLORING CREATIVE TECHNIQUES
TIME: 30 minutes
SUBJECTS: LIBRARY SKILLS, LA, SCIENCE
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Students: Paper, pencil.
Þ Library time.

Library Time: Explain to the students that they will need the following information about their topic: how the illustrator uses the technique, what materials are used, what the materials are made of. While the students are researching their topic take time to research their questions on the illustrator.


DAY ELEVEN: WRITING ABOUT THE TECHNIQUES
TIME: 20-30 minutes
SUBJECTS: LA, COMPUTER
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Students: material for report.
Þ Materials for report.


Have the students divide into their groups. Explain that each student will be writing on a topic from the information they researched yesterday. Have the students get with their groups. Have each group choose a recorder. Each group will decide on the important parts of their topic and who will write on those topics. After the decisions have been made the students will go to the computer lab and write their report using the information from the research work. While the students are putting together their reports I will type out the questions and answers to them individually. All reports will be handed in at the end of the class period and the students will write in their journals.

At this time I will talk to the music teacher to see if the students can learn songs related to this unit during music time. The songs could include: Oh Susanna, John Henry, Drinking Gourd.

DAY TWELVE: SHARING
TIME: 30 minutes
SUBJECTS: READING, SPEECH, LA, SCIENCE
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Student’s reports, my research.
Þ Students: pencil and journals.

The first part of the class period I will teach the students about the different techniques giving each student credit for her/his work. After teaching this information I will give the student’s their questions that I researched. Each student will read to the class the answer to his/her question. The students will write the information they learned on the L column of their KWL sheet. Students will write reflections in their journal. Before the students leave for the day I will say "If you had a choice would you be an author or an illustrator?" "Your homework is to write on a piece of paper what you chose and why."

A night for the program to be performed needs to be determined.


DAY THIRTEEN - SIXTEEN: BEING CREATIVE
TIME: 30 minutes
SUBJECTS: LA, ART, POETRY, COMPUTER
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Students: pencil, paper, journals.
Þ Writing center, Art center, Poetry Center.

Collect the author/illustator papers early in the day so you will have time to go over them and decide who will be in each group.

Over the course of the next few days the students will be broken up into two groups: writers and illustrators. While the writer’s are creating a story the illustrators will be learning about the poet Gwendolyn Brooks. After the stories are created the writers will learn about the poet while the illustrators are creating the pictures. Each day the students will by given time to write in their journals.
Divide the students into the author and illustrators group. Explain to the students that often the writer and illustrator do not communicate and often do not know each other. Divide the writers into two groups. Each group will use an Affinity diagram to decide what they will write a story about. Explain that they will have two class periods to write the story. The story can be as long or as short as the students would like. The students will hand in the final copy after typing it on the computer.
Once the writers are finished with their stories they will be turned over to the illustrators. The illustrators will be divided into two groups. Each group will get a story. After reading the story the illustrators will decide what method they will use to illustrate their story. After the method has been determined the students will discuss what they will have pictures of. Each student will take a part of the story and be responsible for that illustration. Once the authors and illustrators have completed their tasks I will ‘publish’ the books.

POETRY CENTER:
Here the students will work individually and at their own pace. Each student will be given a check sheet to make sure he/she has completed all the work in the station. I will explain to the students that they will have two days to complete each task. The check sheet will include:
1. Autobiography: the students will read the history of Gwendolyn Brooks.
2. Worksheet: the students will complete and turn in the crossword puzzle worksheet.
3. Poetry: the students will read several poems written by Gwendolyn Brooks. In their journal they will write the answer to two questions for each poem: a) what they think the poem is about and b) how they feel about the poem.
4. The students will create a poem.



DAY SEVENTEEN: DECISION MAKING
TIME: 30 minutes
SUBJECTS: SS
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ Students: Pencil and journals.

Once the stories have been put together the students will vote on which is the best. (This will be done as a secret ballot method) Explain to the students that they are going to put a program together. The students who’s book was not chosen will share some of their works created throughout the unit (art, poems, reports, . . .). Have them look through their work to decide what they want to share. For the authors and illustrators who’s book was chosen, have them get together in a group and create a summary of the book and how it was made. You will then need to put the story into play form and it will be acted out as an African Play. All students will have a part in the African play.

DAY EIGHTEEN - TWENTY: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
TIME: 40 minutes
SUBJECTS: ART, SPEECH, DRAMA
MATERIALS NEEDED:
Þ All materials, props, costumes, scripts, instruments, and other needed for play.
Þ Students: creations to be shared.

These three days will be used to practice the program. The program will consist of: half of the class sharing the item they chose, songs, description and summary of the chosen book, play of the chosen book.
FREE TIME CENTERS


These centers will be set up in the room for the students to use when they have free time throughout the day.

READING:
The following books will be put in this area for the students to become familiar with the African American culture and different authors and illustrators:

1. The Gold Cadillac - written by Mildred D. Taylor, illustrated by Michael Hays. ISBN: 0-8037-0342-2
2. Shortcut - written and illustrated by Donald Crews. ISBN: 0-688-06436-1
3. How Many Spots Does A Leopard Have? - written by Julius Lester, illustrated by David Shannon. ISBN: 0-590-41973-0
4. The Great Immigration: written and illustrated by Jacob Lawrence. ISBN:
5. Moja Means One/Swahili Counting Book - written by Muriel Feelings, illustrated by tom Feelings. ISBN: 0-14-054662-6
6. Jambo Means Hello/Swahili Alphabet Book - written by Muriel Feelings, illustrated by Tom Feelings. ISBN: 0-8037-4346-7
7. The Story of Lightning and Thunder - written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan. ISBN: 0-689-31836-7
8. Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain - written by Verna Aardema, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal. ISBN: 0-590-42870-5
9. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears - written by Verna Aardema, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. ISBN: 0-14-054905-6
10. The Patchwork Quilt - written by Valerie Flournay, illustrated by Jerry Pickney. ISBN: 0-590-89753-5
11. Also include the books read during the unit.


ART CENTER:
At this center the students will be given a short story and asked to illustrate the story. Different means will be give for the students to use, such as: chalk, water color, pencil (black/white drawings), cloth material, magazines, and other.


KWANZAA
This center will contain information about the celebration of Kwanzaa. The students will do activities for each of the seven principles. Ideas for this center can be gathered from the book KAWANZAA by Cheryl Willis Hudson. ISBN: 0-590-48421-4. Also see attached sheet with Kawanzaa Web Sites.


CD-ROM
This station will contain a running copy of the CD-ROM "How the Leopard Got It’s Spots". This is an excellent interactive program that can be used in many different ways. I would suggest that you look through the program and use it to the best of your students abilities. See the attached Software Evaluation for a description.



ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES



TIME LINE:

1. While researching the author and illustrator, the students could also search for other authors and illustrators who wrote/illustrated during the same era. The students could put each author and illustrator on a card and what type of writings and illustrations the authors and illustrators did. The cards could be attached to a string and hung close to the bulletin board. Cards with the year could be included.

2. The student could research all the African American writers/illustrators/poets from one designated year to another. The students could compare each of the author and illustrators works. This information could be put on pages and made into a book, "Turning the Pages Through Time".


SPEAKERS:

A speaker from the area or surrounding area could be invited to the classroom. This speaker should pertain to the items being learned: African American author/illustrator, author/illustrator who writes about Africa, African people, African Americans, folk tales of Africa. Friend or relative of such an author/illustrator.


FIELD TRIPS:

Any type of field trip that could relate to this unit is encouraged. This could include: visiting a museum that might have any type of historical information about the African American culture, visiting a gallery that would have any type of paintings or drawings of the culture or by an African American artist, visiting a theater that performs African plays.

BULLETIN BOARD:



OUR CREATIVE



CONNECTIONS

Each block can be designed differently to show the different types of quilt patterns, or the bulletin board as a whole can be designed as one big quilt.
KWANZAA WEB SITES



http://www.harpercollins.com/kids/kwan.htm - what, when, how, why, recipes, and books for Kwanzaa from the Harper Collins children’s book site. Also includes a link to Hannukah and Christmas. (December, 1996)



http://www.melanet.com/kwanzaa/ - Kwanzaa Information Center - utilize this on-line guide as you celebrate this African American holiday. An abundant amount of information including an on-line Swahili Dictionary project site. (December, 1996)



http://www.flint.lib.mi.us/fpl/resources/holidays/kwanzaa.html - this site gives a list of adult books, children’s books, and videos. (December, 1996)


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