ALEX Lesson Plan


Jump at 'de Sun! Let's become Zoraheads!

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Charissa Lambert
System: Calhoun County
School: Ohatchee High School
The event this resource created for:CCRS
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33092


Jump at 'de Sun! Let's become Zoraheads!


Students will learn about Zora Neale Hurston as the beginning of a unit on Their Eyes were Watching God. Using the essay "How it Feels to be Colored Me," students will discuss the use of metaphors in correlation to Hurston's life. Students will also construct a poem using metaphors pertaining to their own lives. 

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

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
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.11.1- Answer who, what, when, where, and why questions to analyze stories, using textual evidence and inferences as support.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
4 ) Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.) [RL.11-12.4]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
22 ) Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 19-21 above.) [W.11-12.4]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
28 ) 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.11-12.10]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
29 ) Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on Grade 11 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. [SL.11-12.1]

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.11-12.1a]

b. Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed. [SL.11-12.1b]

c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives. [SL.11-12.1c]

d. Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task. [SL.11-12.1d]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
34 ) Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See Grade 11 Language standards 35 and 37 for specific expectations.) [SL.11-12.6]

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to:

analyze metaphors in "How it Feels to be Colored Me"

discuss biographical details of Zora Neale Hurston's life in comparison to her essay

compare metaphors in "How it Feels to be Colored Me" to those in their own metaphor poems

construct a metaphor poem

publish poetry on class Edmodo website

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

writing tools, Hurston timeline handout, highlighters, "How it Feels to be Colored Me" handout, brown paper grocery bags, art supplies

Technology Resources Needed:

computer with Internet access, digital projector


Students will need an Edmodo account prior to the class period. 

Students should be able to identify metaphors.

Teachers may want to write their own "Me in Metaphors" poem. An example is attached, but students enjoy reading about their own teachers. 

Teachers will need to review the timeline for biographical information about Zora Neale Hurston that will be discussed by students and in a PowerPoint for lecture. Further information about Zora Neale Hurston can be found in Wrapped in Rainbows by Valerie Boyd.


1. In the previous class period, students should have been given brown paper grocery bags. Your local grocery store will most likely donate these. The students will decorate the front of the bag in regards to what their peers see them as on the outside. They cannot put pictures or their name on the front of the bag. Inside the bag, the students will bring five to seven items that will serve as metaphors for who they truly are on the inside. An example of this would be a graduation cap to serve as a metaphor for education. These items will be brought to class in the brown bag, and the students will participate in a secret show and tell. The items will be returned to them; they will not be held in the classroom. Teachers might want to set guidelines for what can and cannot be in the students' bags. Car keys, wallets, pictures, and cell phones are usually not good ideas. 

2. Students will receive the Hurston timeline handout on their way into the classroom, and will place their bag in a line at the front of the classroom. Independently, students will take about fifteen minutes to read over the timeline. While reading, students will highlight facts they believe to be interesting or significant. 

3. After the students finish reading the timeline, students will conduct a turn and talk with a student nearest to them. These pairs or small groups should discuss their findings from their reading of the timeline.  Which events highlighted were similar? Which events were different?  Why did you find these events significant or interesting?

4. Students will then participate in a whole class discussion about the timeline. This will lead into the teacher presenting the attached PowerPoint on the life of Zora Neale Hurston. This PowerPoint will be serve as an introduction to Hurston. While the teacher lectures, students should be taking notes about Hurston.

5.) After the students have been introduced to Hurston, they receive the "How it Feels to be Colored Me" essay. This essay is Hurston's response to her life. She uses multiple metaphors to describe various aspects of her life. The teacher will read the essay aloud for the first read. Then, the students will read the essay to themselves paying attention to and highlighting metaphors that are used. Students should receive about ten to fifteen minutes for this. 

6.) Students will then go to the front of the classroom and grab a bag that is not their own. They will take the contents out of the bag, and place them in front of them on the floor or table. 

6.) After students have taken out the contents, the teacher will present the example "Me in Metaphors" poem. This can be the one attached or one the teacher has written to provide as an example. The students will then write their own "Me in Metaphors" poem. The teacher should explain to the students that the first line in each stanza is the metaphor, while the second line is an explanation. The students will write their own poem using the items in the bag they brought. After the students have been given time to accomplish this, one person will share. Then, the class will guess who has their bag. The person that has their bag will then share their bag, and the class will guess again.  This will continue on until everyone has shared. 

7.)  The students will type their poems and will submit them to the class Edmodo site. After submission, the poems will be printed to be attached to the front of the brown paper bag. The bags and poems will be displayed in the classroom.

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Assessment Strategies

Formative assessment will occur during classroom discussion. 

Writing assessment through students' poems. 

Speaking and listening skills assessed through poem presentations. 


Students may want to further research Zora Neale Hurston's life, especially her research on zombies. The following link contains a video clip of an interview with Zora on this matter:


For students that may need extra assistance, provide the poem template ahead of time so that they may work on it before class. 

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.