ALEX Lesson Plan


"Thank You Ma'am": Defending or Prosecuting Roger

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Capri Day
System: Tuscaloosa City
School: Southview Middle School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33097


"Thank You Ma'am": Defending or Prosecuting Roger


Students will write a three-paragraph letter to a judge either in defense of or prosecution of Roger from the short story "Thank You Ma'am." Students will engage with the text as they cite evidence in support of their arguments. Students will get to present their letters to a mock jury and try to win their case for or against Roger.

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

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
ELA2015 (7)
1. Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. [RL.7.1]
ELA2015 (7)
2. Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text. [RL.7.2]
ELA2015 (7)
20. Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. [W.7.1]
a. Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically. [W.7.1a]
b. Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text. [W.7.1b]
c. Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), reasons, and evidence. [W.7.1c]
d. Establish and maintain a formal style. [W.7.1d]
e. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented. [W.7.1e]
ELA2015 (7)
32. Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence. [SL.7.3]

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

  • Students will be able to cite 3 pieces of textual evidence to support an argument.
  • Students will be able to write a 3-paragraph letter to a pretend jury in support of either Roger's defense or prosecution.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

  • "Thank you Ma'am" by Langston Hughes
  • Extended Response Graphic Organizer
  • Assessment Rubric


Technology Resources Needed:

  • Interactive whiteboard or projection tool with audio capabilities.
  • "Persuade the family" video
  • If YouTube is unavailable at work location, teachers may download the video at home from onto a flashdrive or other storage device.


  • Students should have read and discussed the short story "Thank You Ma'am" by Langston Hughes.


1. Students will complete a T-chart based on Roger's personality and actions towards Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones. On the left side, they will give reasons why they think Roger is truly a "good kid." On the right side, they will give reasons why they think that Roger is a "bad" kid.

2. After students have made their claims, they will turn and share their responses with a partner.

3. After responses are shared, the teacher will ask for student volunteers to come to the board and write their opinions of Roger. Students should begin formulating opinions about Roger's true character.


1. Students will watch a short video clip of a young boy trying to persuade his parents to buy him a dog.

2. Students will complete a quickwrite in which they identify the three pieces of evidence that the boy uses in the commercial to convince his parents. Teachers should discuss how having sound evidence is essential in producing an effective argument.

3. Students will assume that Roger has been turned in to the police by an onlooker for his attempt to steal Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones' purse. The jury is undecided if Roger is remorseful for his acts or if he still hold ill-intentions. Students have to give reasons to either persuade the judge that Roger is guilty and should be punished, or convince the judge that Roger is remorseful and should be let go.

4. Students will complete an extended response graphic organizer (attached) in which they work with a partner holding their same argument to cite three examples of evidence from the text in support of either prosecuting or defending Roger.


1. Students will use the graphic organizer to write a 3-paragraph argumentative letter to the judge stating reasons why Roger would be set free or held in prison.

2. Students should incorporate their 3 reasons for defending or prosecuting Roger in their letter. Students should also be encouraged to include and refute one counterargument.

3. After students have written the letter, they will present their arguments to a mock jury/judge made up of school administration and student council.

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Assessment Strategies

Students will be assessed on their argumentative writing through completion of the letter. They will also be assessed on their coherent, cohesive presentation of their argument to the judge.




Students needing extra assistance may be provided with only the chunked sections of the text that have evidence embedded in them. They may then work through and highlight possible evidence.

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.