American Literature Curriculum Lesson and Activity Bundle

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9th - 12th, Higher Education, Homeschool
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1183 pages, 48+ slides
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    American Literature Bundle Pacing Guide and Journal Prompts


    Are you new to American Literature or tired of boring worksheets? Engage students with texts by American authors in lessons that use real-world learning connections and critical thinking. These activities for your American Literature Curriculum are organized thematically and include a variety of lessons that meet the expectations of all Common Core ELA Anchor Standards. Diverse American authors in the unit include Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Sandra Cisneros, Kate Chopin, and many more. New resources and lesson updates will be added periodically at no additional cost to those who already have the bundle.

    The bundle includes the following:

    Introduction to American Literature Unit

    This three-week unit is an excellent introduction to American Literature and meets the needs of visual, auditory, and linguistic learners. Students are introduced to American voices and ideals through poetry, music, and art.

    The unit sets high expectations for close reading and literary analysis while also encouraging creativity. Furthermore, the unit encourages critical thinking by requiring students to synthesize texts with universal themes and incorporates all English Language Arts Common Core strands.

    Poems in the unit follow:

    • "Naming Myself" by Barbara Kingsolver
    • "I Hear America Singing" by Walt Whitman
    • "I, Too" by Langston Hughes

    Paired Texts

    In these lessons, students practice close reading and essay-writing as they compare paired texts that have similar universal themes. These detailed lesson plans will provide you with everything you need to help your students meet Common Core standards as they make connections between texts and construct effective comparison essays.

    In addition to the printable "Paired Texts," these resources may be used for online learning with EASEL by TpT.

    Text passages follow:

    • “Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost and "Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes
    • “Ain’t I a Woman?” By Sojourner Truth and “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou
    • “Naming Myself” by Barbara Kingsolver and “My Name” by Sandra Cisneros
    • “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar and “I’m Nobody!” By Emily Dickinson
    • “First Lesson” by Philip Booth and “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden
    • “Speech to the Second Virginia Convention” by Patrick Henry and “The War Prayer” Mark Twain
    • “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
    • “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner
    • “The Names” by Billy Collins and “The Dead of September 11” by Toni Morrison
    • “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau and biographical film The Great Debaters
    • “We Shall Overcome” by Lyndon B. Johnson and “Second Inaugural Address” by Abraham Lincoln
    • Excerpt from Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun and Langston Hughes's poem "Mother to Son."
    • "Theme for English B" by Langston Hughes and "We Are Many" by Pablo Neruda
    • Preamble to the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Speech by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    Nonfiction Connections

    Help your students use close reading to make relevant connections to classic texts! All lessons include writing assignments and some incorporate choice boards.

    • Walden Excerpt by Henry David Thoreau and Tiny House Movement Newspaper Article
    • "Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin and The Washington Post Article
    • "Totally, Like Whatever" by Taylor Mali & Newspaper Article
    • Native American Mythology and No Impact Man Excerpt
    • “My Bondage and My Freedom” and Speech from Malala Yousafzai

    Rhetorical Analysis

    • Rhetorical Analysis Graphic Organizer for "The Speech on the Voting Rights Act of 1965"
    • John McCain "Farewell Letter" Rhetorical Analysis
    • Ruth Bader Ginsburg "Remarks at the New York Historical Society"

    Poetry Bell Ringers

    Help students analyze poetry with these prompts that can be used for bell-ringers, cooperative learning, or learning stations. Each handout requires students to provide theme topics, theme statements, and text support for their responses.

    Poems follow:

    • “If We Must Die” By Claude McKay
    • “The Author to Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet
    • “Hope” by Emily Dickinson
    • “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar
    • “A Noiseless Patient Spider” by Walt Whitman
    • “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    • “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes
    • “Richard Cory” by Edward Arlington Robinson
    • “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
    • “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe

    Other Lessons Featuring American Authors

    Many of these lessons capitalize on the reading and writing connection, using mentor texts for inspiration. Furthermore, activities in these lessons require students to "think outside the box," and use inquiry and creative thinking to support learning.

    • Close Reading from Act 1 of The Crucbile by Arthur Miller (New)
    • Close Reading from Act 2 of The Crucible by Arthur Miller (New)
    • Close Reading from Act 3 of The Crucible by Arthur Miller (New)
    • Close Reading from Act 4 of The Crucible by Arthur Miller (New)
    • Close Reading from The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
    • Close Reading with "On Women's Rights" by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
    • Literary Analysis with “Ex-Basketball Player” by John Updike
    • Aphorisms of Ben Franklin
    • “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” by Martin Luther King, Jr. – Speech Writing Lesson
    • William Carlos Williams – Writing Imagist Poems
    • Speech Writing and Memorial Design with “The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln
    • “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving and Math Connections
    • Test for Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    • Test for Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
    • Test for The Awakening by Kate Chopin
    • Rhetorical Appeals Trashketball (“Speech to the Second Virginia Convention,” “Aint I a Woman,” and excerpt from "My Bondage and My Freedom”)
    • Theme Analysis with Haikus (Song of Solomon as mentor text)
    • Text Evidence Activity The Hate U Give by Angela Thomas
    • Text Evidence Activity for Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    • Text Evidence Activity for The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • Text Evidence Activity for A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
    • Text Evidence Activity for To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    Trashketball Games

    Review literary elements such as characterization, plot, setting, and theme with these PowerPoint Trashketball games. These fun, active games get students out of their seats and excited to learn!

    • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    • The Crucible by Arthur Miller
    • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
    • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    • Verbals with The Great Gatsby, A Raisin in the Sun, To Kill a Mockingbird
    • Black History Month Grammar Game
    • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
    • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

    More for To Kill a Mockingbird

    • To Kill a Mockingbird Task Cards

    More for The Great Gatsby

    • Close Reading with The Great Gatsby
    • The Great Gatsby Essay and Party

    Free Bonus Pacing Guide, Journal Prompts, and Links to Digital Paired Passages

    Organized thematically, this pacing guide provides an overview, teacher notes, Common Core ELA Anchor Standards, extension activities, and teaching strategy suggestions. There are also links to blog posts and freebies that you can use to supplement the units. Themes covered include "American Ideals and Voices," "The Search for Equality and Justice," "The American Dream," "Facing Darkness," "The Trials of War," "The Pursuit of Happiness (Family, Friends & Love)," and "The Quest for Identity and Individuality." The pacing guide also includes ten free journal prompts that can be incorporated into the units! This has recently been enhanced with links to seven digital paired passages that can be used with Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.

    This American Literature Curriculum Bundle will save you hours of work and is great for teachers who are going on maternity leave or who will have a long-term substitute. By purchasing this bundle, you benefit from significant savings; however, if you would prefer, you may purchase any of the included resources individually in my store.

    Furthermore, this bundle would make a useful addition to an English department's curriculum materials. (Please be sure to purchase the appropriate licenses if using the bundle with a group.)

    Total pages: 1167 (Please note that some pages are duplicates.)

    Want a sneak peek at the Pacing Guide?

    Here is a free version for your review:

    American Literature Pacing Guide Freebie

    Not sure you need the entire resource? You may be interested in these bundled lessons instead:

    Paired Passages Mega Bundle

    The Great Gatsby Activity Bundle

    Nonfiction Reading and Writing Connections Bundle

    Classic Literature Trashketball Bundle

    Meaningful and Memorable English Language Arts by © OCBeachTeacher ™

    All rights reserved by author.

    Limited to use by purchaser only.

    Group licenses available.

    Not for public display.

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    to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
    Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
    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.
    Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
    Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
    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.


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