Beneatha's Hair as Symbolism: Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Close Reading

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Sharp Secondary Literacy
Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Higher Education, Adult Education
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Sharp Secondary Literacy


This resource was originally intended to accompany a study unit for A Raisin in the Sun. This is a lesson that I used to closely analyze Gwendolyn Brooks's poem, "To Those of My Sisters Who Kept Their Naturals," in order to equip my students with the cultural background knowledge to more fully appreciate Beneatha's choice to cut off her straightened hair. There are, however, no direct references to Raisin in the text of the resource, so if you want to use it for any other purpose, it will work perfectly.

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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.
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).
By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.


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