ALEX Learning Activity


Understanding American Identity Through Zora Neale Hurston's Barracoon

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Ashley Lucier
System:Autauga County
School:Marbury Middle School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2412
Understanding American Identity Through Zora Neale Hurston's Barracoon
Digital Tool/Resource:
Barracoon Powerpoint
Web Address – URL:

In this learning activity, students will read excerpts of Zora Neale Hurston's Barracoon and complete graphic organizers. Students will analyze the text through the lens of American Identity and show comprehension of the text and the author's purpose through their writing. 

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 10
2 ) Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text. [RL.9-10.2]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.10.2- Determine a theme and identify how the theme develops throughout a text, citing specific details; create an objective summary of a story.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 10
6 ) Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of early American literature to 1900, drawing on a wide reading of American literature. [RL.9-10.6] (Alabama)

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.10.6- Describe the point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of early American literature to 1900.

Learning Objectives:

1. Students will be able to summarize a text. 

2. Students will be able to identify specific details that reveal the theme of a text. 

3. Students will be able to analyze a particular point of view reflected in American literature. 

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  
Before/Engage, During/Explore/Explain

1. The instructor will divide the class into two large groups, Group 1 and Group 2.

2. The instructor will review slides 1-6 of the Barracoon Powerpoint with the students. 

3. During the review of slides 1-6, students will actively discuss the information with the instructor and answer questions. 

4. On slide 7 of the Barracoon Powerpoint, students will begin completing the activity by answering the Pre-Reading Questions on Group 1 Handout or Group 2 Handout

5. Students will begin reading either Group 1 Excerpt or Group 2 Excerpt. The reading should be done aloud by the students. This works well if they are in a circle and take turns reading. 

6. Once a group has finished reading their excerpt, the students will complete the rest of their handout. 

7. After both groups are completed, each student will partner with one student from the opposite group to complete the partner questions on their handouts. 

Assessment Strategies:

The instructor can collect completed handouts and grade for accuracy using the Barracoon Handout KEY. 

Other options include students writing a paragraph on their findings, writing a poem about the character's experiences using the evidence from their handouts, or creating a poster comparing and contrasting the character's experiences. 

Advanced Preparation:

1. Instructors should make sufficient copies of each handout and excerpt for students to complete. 

2. It is ideal to already have the classroom set up into two large circular groups. Seats may be assigned to even out reading levels. 

Variation Tips (optional):

The instructor may assign low-level readers to one group and work solely with that group while reading. 

Although this activity is designed to fit with early American literature, it can also be used as an introductory activity to other novel studies of Hurston's work, such as Their Eyes Were Watching God

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

Some classes may need a lengthier review of dialect and how it can enhance language and purpose. In addition, an understanding of the slave trade and the author's tone is beneficial to students' success. 

  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: early American literature, reading comprehension, Zora Neale Hurston