Using Pictures to Teach Narrative Writing with Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Subject: Sixth Grade Language Arts – Segregation and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Time allotted: 90 minutes

Organization: large group

Objective: Students will demonstrate the understanding of the components in a narrative by using pictures about segregation to write the narrative.

Student worksheet available at

Teaching Mode: Direct

Provision for Individual Differences: Students are heterogeneously mixed. The combination of modeling by the teacher and students will help to meet the needs of the varying abilities in the classroom. This assignment is open-ended enough for all students to find success “where they are” (Gardner, 2004).

Teaching Strategies: Some lecture, dialogue, modeling, discussion, group critique, planning.

Teaching Behavior focus: Focus will be as facilitator. Students will direct the lesson by creating the model used to demonstrate narrative writing.

Materials needed for this lesson:

oOne copy of a picture depicting segregation for each student– ideally with larger copies available for fine details.

oPaper- pencil

ooverhead, board and markers, or chalk

oGeneral classroom supplies

Lesson Activities:

Step 1. Anticipatory Set: (Motivation)

oAs review, ask students to write a definition of segregation. Volunteers will state their definitions. Write the definition on the board for students to refer to as they write their narratives. (Students should have read and discussed segregation and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry prior to this lesson).

oDistribute pictures depicting segregation- one to each student. Or ask students to bring pictures from magazines that demonstrate segregation or reverse segregation. Hang several larger pictures on the wall so students can use them for greater detail.

oStudents will examine their picture individually for five minutes, writing details on the worksheet.

Note: Newspapers and magazines are good sources of pictures for this lesson as well as the following online museum Web sites.

Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State

Norman Rockwell Museum

Online Tours of the National Gallery of Art

Web Museum, Paris

Step 2. Objective (Overview of learning outcomes to pupils):

Students will use pictures about segregation related to their unit of study for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry to:

odemonstrate knowledge of the characteristics of narrative writing by writing a narrative.

odemonstrate connections between images and words by using narrative writing to build understanding of content.

ouse detailed vocabulary in writing their text.

Step 3. Presentation (Input) of information:

Students will review the following characteristics of narrative writing as a whole class: developing plot, character and setting using specific detail and ordering events clearly using chronological order.

Direct students’ attention to one picture on the board. As a whole class have students brainstorm possible events and characters this picture illustrates about segregation. Place the words or phrases under the following headings on the board as students share their ideas. Have students fill this information in on their worksheets.

Characters Setting Situation Feelings Vocabulary

Step 4. Modeling/Examples:

Use one character from the class table. Model writing a narrative on the board from the character’s point of view by calling on students to give the details. Encourage students to describe the picture and to invent an original story related to the segregation illustrated in the picture. Decide as a class whether to tell the story that leads up to the picture, or to narrate the events that follow the picture. Write events in chronological order on the board as well as including the character’s feelings and thoughts.

Step 5. Checking for Understanding:

Have students evaluate the story written on the board that they created by checking the blank before each element of narrative writing that they find in the class story about segregation.

1. _____ One character’s point of view.

2. _____ Details about the character .

3. _____ Details about the setting.

4. _____ Details about the situation.

5. _____ The story was in the correct chronological order.

6. _____ The narrative contained feelings and thoughts.

Circulate as students work to check for understanding. Call on students to share their evaluation to be sure all students understand the content.

Step 6. Guided Practice:

Using the picture that they were assigned (or the one they brought from home) students will brainstorm possible events and characters by filling their ideas in the same table used in step 3:

Characters Setting Situation Feelings Vocabulary

Circulate to check for understanding.

Step 7. Independent Practice:

Have students choose one character from the table and write a narrative similar to the one modeled for them in step 4 from that character’s point of view. Students will invent an original story related to the segregation illustrated in the picture. They will decide whether to tell the story that leads up to the picture, or to narrate the events that follow the picture. They will write events in chronological order and write about the character’s feelings and thoughts.

Step 8. Closure:

Students will be evaluated using the same rubric used in step five, Checking for Understanding. Refer students to that evaluation rubric and ask students to give the example from the story previously written on the board to illustrate each area from the rubric. The stories can be assigned as homework or completed as class work as per the preference of the teacher.

Note: This lesson is modified from Gardner, T. (2004). A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: From Image to Detailed Narrative, from