I start the class by explaining the rules of engagement for the period. I try to make sure that each and every student understands exactly what is expected and feels confident that he or she is capable of being successful. I tell the students they will be writing an essay that compares and/or contrasts the two texts (Ain't I a Woman and Still I Rise) in response to one of the following prompts:
1- Angelou and Truth both lived in very different times. Do the texts give the impression that a great deal has changed for women in the time that passed between the two? Support your answer using evidence from both texts.
2- Angelou and Truth use two very different styles in order to convey a similar message. Is one approach more effective than another in conveying the message? Justify your position with evidence from both texts.
3- What do Angelou's and Truth's texts say it is to be a woman of color in America during these two different times? Do they appear to agree with one another or not? Justify your claim with evidence from the two texts.
4- A potential theme in both text is that women are capable of doing amazing things and are integral to our society. How do the two texts convey and support this theme?
5- The tone of an author or speaker plays a very important role in the expression of a message. Did Angelou or Truth have the more effective use of tone in her text? Please justify this claim using evidence from both texts.
After introducing the prompts to the students and having them make a selection, I give the students the remainder of the time in class to work on their essays. I like to mark my seating chart with the number of the prompt each student selects. I like to be able to keep track of things like this. Some prompts are more difficult than others, and all students have different abilities. I like to see how students are pushing themselves. I will never tell a student that he or she is selecting something too hard, but I will gladly provide a nudge to those students who are not pushing themselves enough.
I spend the remainder of the lesson moving from student to student, with special focus on my students who typically struggle the most. It is important for me to provide continuous feedback for the students as they are creating and developing their ideas.
The students will be evaluated for this assignment using the PARCC writing rubric that we have reviewed and used for other writing assignments in the past.