ALEX Lesson Plan


Who's Your Mama?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Samantha Bonner
Organization:Alabama Department of Youth Services
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33068


Who's Your Mama?


Students will learn about characters and their traits. Using graphic organizers and video clips, students will be able to determine character traits and the main idea of a text.

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
ELA2015 (9)
1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. [RL.9-10.1]
ELA2015 (9)
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]
ELA2015 (9)
5. Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise. [RL.9-10.5]
ELA2015 (9)
21. Write informative or explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. [W.9-10.2]
a. Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension. [W.9-10.2a]
b. Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience's knowledge of the topic. [W.9-10.2b]
c. Use appropriate and varied transitions to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts. [W.9-10.2c]
d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic. [W.9-10.2d]
e. Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing. [W.9-10.2e]
f. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic). [W.9-10.2f]
ELA2015 (9)
29. Write routinely over extended time frames, including time for research, reflection, and revision, and shorter time frames such as a single sitting or a day or two for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences. [W.9-10.10]
ELA2015 (9)
30. Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on Grade 9 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. [SL.9-10.1]
a. Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas. [SL.9-10.1a]
b. Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed. [SL.9-10.1b]
c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions. [SL.9-10.1c]
d. Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented. [SL.9-10.1d]

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Following instruction, TLW be able to:

1. Define hero

2. Compare/Contrast Characters

3. Identify heroes in their lives

4. Identify the theme/main idea of varying texts

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

  • Paper
  • Copies of "Thank You Ma'am" by Langston Hughes and "How Do You Spell Father" by Marshall Davis Jones
  • Rubric for Poetry Slam

Technology Resources Needed:

  • Computer with Internet Access
  • Audio Access



This lesson should follow a brief introduction of the following literary terms:

  • Characterization
  • Conflict
  • Main Idea/Theme

Prior knowledge of these terms will make reading and discussing the two texts easier.


1. As students enter the classroom, they will complete the Bellringer on the board. The Bellringer asks, What makes a hero? After approximately five minutes, allow the students to share their thoughts.

2. Define the term hero.

3. Distribute "Thank You Ma'am". As a pre-reading activity, allow students to ponder briefly over what the title could mean. (See attachment)

4. After a brief discussion, the students will listen and read along silently as you read the story aloud. As you read, point out key elements throughout the story.

5. The students will select whether they want to be Roger or Mrs. Jones. Once selections are made, they will do the following:

a. List character traits of "themselves" in their new role.

b. Determine what the main idea of the text is.

c. Rewrite the beginning and the ending of the story from the perspective of their chosen character.

d. Share their rewrites with their partner.

6. Once the class is brought together, the exit activity will require the students to answer the following question on a sheet a paper:

  • In three to five sentences, explain why Mrs. Jones would be considered a hero. Caution students to descrbe how she demonstrated heroic traits.


1. As students enter the classroom, allow them time to complete the Bellringer on the board. The bellringer states: How would your mother/grandmother have handled Roger in the same situation? After approximately five minutes, allow the class to briefly share their thoughts.

2. Students will need to rejoin their partner for this portion of the activity. Once students are in their groups they will complete the following:

a. Complete the Venn Diagram comparing/contrasting Roger and Mrs. Jones (Teacher will distribute the handout for a guide; however, students must create this on their own paper). Teacher will also redistribute copies of the story.

b. On the back of the initial Venn diagram, they will complete a Venn diagram comparing themselves to Roger or Mrs. Jones.

3. After students are done, the teacher will collect the completed diagrams for grading.

4. Reflecting on the story, the teacher will guide the students as they discuss quietly what the main idea of the story is. Students will work with their partners and share their views with the class.

5. As a closing activity, the students will take a quiz on the story.


1. As students enter the classroom, they are to take a copy of the poem "How Do you Spell Father?" and prepare to read along as a video of the poem is being shown on the computer. Students will be given the url to locate the site

2. After viewing/reading the poem, students will discuss how realistic his definition of FATHER is to them.

3. As a culmunating activity, students will create a poem, following the guide of the Father poem for an in-class Poetry Slam.

4. For the remaining time, students will be allowed to work on their poems. The teacher will walk around for guidance and support.

 5. Teacher will provide a rubric for students to follow as they continue writing their poems.


Assessment Strategies

Students will complete a formal assessment of Thank You Ma'am.

Students' completion and participation in the Poetry Slam will be a means of formally assessing them.


For my more advanced students, they will rewrite the story "Thank You Ma'am" reversing the roles of Roger and Mrs. Jones.


For students who have trouble reading along or out loud, I suggest that you either locate an audio version of the text for them to listen to, or create an audio version of the text for them to listen to and follow along.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.