Grade 7 ELA Module 3, Unit 2

Students writing at their desks in class.

In this unit, students closely read three extended excerpts from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. They continue with the same routine that was introduced in Unit 1; it is designed to allow all students to understand this complex text. For each excerpt, the teacher reads the text out loud while students read silently. Next, students do a second read to make sure they understand specific words and literal meaning, then a third read in which they grapple with questions that require more synthesis and analysis, focusing particularly on how Douglass uses language and on those parts of the text that relate most directly to his purpose in writing. Finally, students meet in groups of three to complete an Excerpt Analysis note-catcher, which includes the narrative arc of the excerpt as well as the ways in which this excerpt conveys Douglass’s position. In their analysis of the Narrative, students build on the work from Unit 1 about how authors use word choice and figurative language to convey meaning, and they help construct a word wall that showcases some of Douglass’s powerful language. In their work with author’s purpose, the focus of the textual analysis essay, students continue to refer to the Shining a Light anchor chart from Unit 1. The work with narrative arc is new in this unit; it is launched with the reading of Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery[1] at the beginning of the unit. It is not an assessed skill; rather, it supports students in understanding the events of the Narrative and serves as a scaffold for the performance task in Unit 3—a children’s book based on one of the excerpts.

This unit also includes work in which students compare a written story to how a storyteller might perform that same story (included in the Mid-Unit 2 Assessment) and in understanding how sentences are constructed (L.7.1a, b, c; assessed in Unit 3). The Mid-Unit 2 Assessment focuses on students’ ability to independently analyze a new excerpt of the Narrative, with a particular focus on understanding the words and language used and how they contribute to meaning. The end of unit assessment is an on-demand extended essay about how Douglass conveys his purpose and distinguishes his position from that of those who defend slavery. This essay is similar to the essays in earlier modules, with several days devoted to rereading, analyzing textual evidence, and planning the essay. However, unlike the essays in earlier modules, this essay is not revised: Students use their notes and outlines to write a single draft over two days in class. Note that it is strongly recommended that you do both the Mid-Unit 2 Assessment and the End of Unit 2 Assessment (the essay) yourself near the beginning of this unit. This unit requires precise and rigorous analysis of a complex text. This is work that students are capable of, but many of them will need carefully calibrated support. The more detailed your understanding of the assessments, the better positioned you will be to support your students in the type of thinking they will be doing throughout the lessons.


[1] The book, Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery, is integral to several lessons in this module, and is widely available in public and school libraries. However, a free alternative children’s book, Turning the Page–Frederick Douglass Learns to Read, and corresponding alternate lessons are available within Unit 2 and Unit 3 to accommodate schools/districts that are not able to secure a copy of Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery.

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