Frederick Douglass: A Powerful Engagement Activity

Frederick Douglass:  A Powerful Engagement Activity
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Common Core Standards
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1 MB|19 pages
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Last year, I was looking for a new way to engage students in Frederick Douglass's beautifully written slave narrative. I wanted them to understand Douglass's journey and analyze his powerful rhetoric, but I also wanted them to make connections to their own lives. I wanted to highlight the dignity, the eloquence, and the humanity of Douglass...all in the face of slavery...allowing them to know what they were also capable of achieving! When I found out that Douglass was one of the most photographed Americans of the 19th century, I was immediately fascinated.
Douglass used portrait photography to continue to make the case against slavery. His serious, dignified, unflinching photographs, in combination with the Narrative, proclaim his humanity, his intelligence, his intrinsic equality with any man. These photographs gave me an idea! Students would partner up for three photographs, each telling a slightly different story about who they are, and then write about their choices and experience. This is a truly engaging and exciting activity that draws students in from day one and has them think critically and feel deeply - in equal measure. In fact, this was one of my students' favorite activities last year! And it set the pace for the entire Frederick Douglass unit. Students were so engaged throughout this activity, as they considered assumptions, issues of identity, and common humanity and this translated to engagement throughout our reading of Douglass's narrative. The idea of linking text and image was taught in my literature/rhetoric master's program, and it proved to work extremely well for my students. This handout has everything that you need. Students will need cell phones or cameras, one per partnership will work. This packet includes:
* rationale
* directions for you
* clear and concise directions that can be projected for each stage of this project
* clear, thoughtful reflection writing prompts
* a clear rubric
* images of "the happy slave" and minstrels
* images of Douglass
* discussion questions
* additional resources with links
Total Pages
19 pages
Answer Key
N/A
Teaching Duration
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