ALEX Learning Activity


Racial Prejudice and Sexism in Short Stories

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Tammy Cook
School:University of Montevallo
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2312
Racial Prejudice and Sexism in Short Stories
Digital Tool/Resource:
Foreshadowing in Desiree's Baby Graphic Organizer
Web Address – URL:

This activity can be used in the middle of a lesson about the theme of racial prejudice and sexism as depicted in the short story “Desiree’s Baby” (1894) by Kate Chopin. Students will read and discuss the biography of Kate Chopin before they read the short story. Students will complete the Foreshadowing Graphic Organizer as they read the story for group discussion and a writing activity involving an alternate ending for the story.

This activity was created as a result of the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 12
1 ) Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain. [RL.11-12.1]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.12.1- Answer who, what, when, where, and why questions to analyze stories, using textual evidence and inferences as support.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 12
21 ) Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. [W.11-12.3]

a. Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation and its significance, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator, characters, or both; create a smooth progression of experiences or events. [W.11-12.3a]

b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters. [W.11-12.3b]

c. Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole and build toward a particular tone and outcome (e.g., a sense of mystery, suspense, growth, or resolution). [W.11-12.3c]

d. Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters. [W.11-12.3d]

e. Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative. [W.11-12.3e]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.12.21- Compose narrative texts by introducing characters or a narrator, organizing events in sequence, and providing an ending related to the event sequence.

Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 9-12
Human Geography
11 ) Interpret human geography as it relates to gender.

•  Contrasting roles of men and women around the world
•  Describing ways the diffusion of ideas affects gender roles within societies
Example: effects of Grameen Bank loans

Unpacked Content
Strand: Elective
Course Title: Human Geography
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Interpret human geography as it relates to gender and describe how this has affected gender roles.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • human
  • geography
  • gender
Students know:
  • How gender dynamics are changing in various parts of the world.
  • How issues related to gender affect power relationships and culture.
Students are able to:
  • Understand how roles related to gender are changing.
  • Compare and contrast roles of men and women around the world.
  • Recognize how gender affects power relationships between men and women.
Students understand that:
  • Gender plays a role regarding human geography.
Learning Objectives:

  • The students will cite textual examples of the author's use of foreshadowing.
  • The students will examine an author's biographical information and determine how time and place affect the writer's textual decisions related to gender.
  • The students will interpret what an author states directly and indirectly about issues like racial prejudice and sexism.
  • The students will compose an alternate conclusion to the short story.
  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1. Review the terms foreshadowing, racial prejudice, and sexism:

     a. Foreshadowing: a warning or indicator of a future event

     b. Racial Prejudice: The fourth edition of the American Heritage College Dictionary provides four meanings for the term—from “an adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts” to “irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race or religion.” Both definitions apply to the experiences of ethnic minorities in Western society. Of course, the second definition sounds much more menacing than the first, but prejudice in either capacity has the potential to cause a great deal of damage.

     c. Sexism: prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, based on sex.

2. Examine the Kate Chopin in the South Web Page and engage students in a brief, whole-group discussion:

     a.  What is one unusual piece of biographical information that intrigues you about this author from this website?

3, Examine the Kate Chopin Biography Web Page and engage students in a brief, whole-group discussion:

     a. This website features more information about Chopin. Identify one piece of information that helps you understand the author better.

     b. How could one of the concepts of foreshadowing, racial prejudice, or sexism possibly connect the biographical information about Chopin and her writing?

4. Explain to students that it is important to learn information about an author before you read his or her work and that we will return to the author discussion after reading this short story and completing the graphic organizer.

5. Create small groups of three students; direct student groups to read the story "Desiree’s Baby"(1894) and complete the Foreshadowing in Desiree’s Baby Graphic Organizer as they read.

6. Instruct student groups to discuss their results and compose an “alternate ending” to the short story. (If students need a brief refresher about alternate endings, see this Alternate Ending Prezi.)

7. Each group will present their findings to the class and share their alternate endings. Use the rubric for scoring: Rubric for Alternate Ending Paragraph   

8. After all groups have presented their ideas for alternate endings, discuss whether the author’s background information is connected to her writing style or descriptions of settings, characters, or events. Return to the question:      

     a. How could one of the concepts of foreshadowing, racial prejudice, or sexism possibly connect the biographical information about Chopin and her writing?

Assessment Strategies:

Direct students to submit the graphic organizers, so the teacher may assess, specifically for their understanding of textual evidence citations.

Each group will present their findings to the class and share their alternate endings. Use the rubric for scoring: Rubric for Alternate Ending Paragraph   

Advanced Preparation:

The teacher needs to make sure the web page links are available before class and students have access to the materials via Google Classroom. 

Variation Tips (optional):

The lesson could be used in conjunction with any of Kate Chopin's short stories. A variation would be for students to read "The Story of an Hour" by Chopin as an outside activity and compose an essay about how the elements of foreshadowing, racial prejudice, and sexism are featured in the story.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

These activities are designed to occur in the middle of a lesson.

  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: Alternate Endings, Desirees Baby, Foreshadowing, Kate Chopin