ALEX Lesson Plan


Disappearing Acts: Why Would a Mother Leave--Issues That Students Have Faced in the Past and Present

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Andrea Aikerson
System: Bessemer City
School: Greenwood Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33096


Disappearing Acts: Why Would a Mother Leave--Issues That Students Have Faced in the Past and Present


Use literary elements to show students' similarities and differences of today's society to the past.

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

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
ELA2015 (5)
1. Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. [RL.5.1]
ELA2015 (5)
2. Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text. [RL.5.2]
ELA2015 (5)
6. Describe how a narrator's or speaker's point of view influences how events are described. [RL.5.6]
ELA2015 (5)
21. Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. [RF.5.4]
a. Read on-level text with purpose and understanding. [RF.5.4a]
b. Read on-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings. [RF.5.4b]
c. Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary. [RF.5.4c]
ELA2015 (5)
24. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. [W.5.3]
a. Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator, characters, or both; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally. [W.5.3a]
b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description, and pacing, to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations. [W.5.3b]
c. Use a variety of transitional words, phrases, and clauses to manage the sequence of events. [W.5.3c]
d. Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely. [W.5.3d]
e. Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events. [W.5.3e]
ELA2015 (5)
26. With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of the first three Language standards in Grades K-5.) [W.5.5]
ELA2015 (5)
28. Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic. [W.5.7]
ELA2015 (5)
31. 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 discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences. [W.5.10]
ELA2015 (5)
35. Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace. [SL.5.4]
ELA2015 (5)
36. Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes. [SL.5.5]
ELA2015 (5)
38. Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking. [L.5.1]
a. Explain the function of conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections in general and their function in particular sentences. [L.5.1a]
b. Form and use the perfect (e.g., I had walked; I have walked; I will have walked) verb tenses. [L.5.1b]
c. Use verb tense to convey various times, sequences, states, and conditions. [L.5.1c]
d. Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tense.* [L.5.1d]
e. Use correlative conjunctions (e.g., either/or, neither/nor). [L.5.1e]
ELA2015 (5)
39. Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing. [L.5.2]
a. Use punctuation to separate items in a series.* [L.5.2a]
b. Use a comma to separate an introductory element from the rest of the sentence. [L.5.2b]
c. Use a comma to set off the words yes and no (e.g., Yes, thank you), to set off a tag question from the rest of the sentence (e.g., It's true, isn't it'), and to indicate direct address (e.g., Is that you, Steve'). [L.5.2c]
d. Use underlining, quotation marks, or italics to indicate titles of works. [L.5.2d]
e. Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed. [L.5.2e]
ELA2015 (5)
40. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening. [L.5.3]
a. Expand, combine, and reduce sentences for meaning, reader or listener interest, and style. [L.5.3a]
b. Compare and contrast the varieties of English (e.g., dialects, registers) used in stories, dramas, or poems. [L.5.3b]
ELA2015 (5)
42. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. [L.5.5]
a. Interpret figurative language, including similes and metaphors, in context. [L.5.5a]
b. Recognize and explain the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs. [L.5.5b]
c. Use the relationship between particular words (e.g., synonyms, antonyms, homographs) to better understand each of the words. [L.5.5c]

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to compare and contrast Gypsy's and Woodrow's dilemmas in life to situations taking place in the home, society, and school today.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:


Book: Belle Prater's Boy

Computers for the students 


Book: Belle Prater's Boy 

Technology Resources Needed:


Students should have a basic understanding of literary elements. (Characters, Setting, Problem, Plot Events, Solution/Resolution)



1. Have a group discussion with students about dilemmas that plague today's family.

2. Talk with students about bullying in school and society.

3. While reading the novel, compare and contrast Gypsy's and Woodrow's problems within their family infrastructure.

4. Discuss the problems that Gypsy and Woodrow have about their image. This will open a discussion about self-esteem and bullying.

5. Complete study guide questions for each chapter (example study guides follow links in technology section).

6.  Have students make a prediction at the end of the novel of what they think happened to Belle.

7. Let students work in groups to have a debate about 1950s vs. today's issues that children deal with.


Assessment Strategies

Question and Discussion sessions with partners, group, and whole class. 

Comprehension and Vocabulary Test (example test attached)


Write a sequel for the book

Have a debate on 1950s issues vs. today's issues


There is a sequel to this book but instead of reading it have students write a sequel about what they think happened to Belle.

Conduct research on the 50's to give students an idea of what was going on in the country and world during this time, present information in a digital media form (example powerpoint,flip chart, google document, etc.).

Let students write a play based on the novel and perform it in class. 


Review literary elements with students in small group setting to ensure comprehension of text. 

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.