Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass UNIT PLAN: Complete Literature Study

Rated 4.97 out of 5, based on 99 reviews
99 Ratings
Rigorous Resources
Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Higher Education, Homeschool
Formats Included
  • Word Document File
90 pages
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Rigorous Resources

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My students thoroughly enjoyed studying Douglass's Narrative. They had amazing discussions thanks to this high-quality resource. Everything I could have wanted as a teacher was included.
These curricular materials are remarkably engaging and insightful. They sparked enriching discussions and inspired my students to generate high-quality work. I would buy this again in a heartbeat!
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NEW IN 2020: Rigorous! Thought-provoking! Discussion-based!

This 90-page EDITABLE unit has everything you'll need for profoundly stimulating lessons on Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass! Invite your class to engage in student-driven discussions without compromising on intellectual rigor. The daily quizzes, discussion questions, exercises on literary devices, and writing assignment will challenge your students to dig beneath the surface of the text and unlock profound interpretive insights!

Hold your students accountable for completing the nightly homework by beginning every class with a quick vocabulary and reading quiz. Challenge students to explicate textual details using a wide range of interpretive lenses: formalist, historicist, feminist, psychoanalytic, etc. Facilitate dynamic discussions that inspire students to arrive at a whole new depth of insight!!

Everything you’ll need to teach Douglass's memoir is included in this 90-page bundle:

Unit & Pacing Guide: Suggestions for how to pace the reading homework and organize the classwork for Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. (2 pages)

Discussion Questions: Fifteen pages of higher-order discussion questions guaranteed to inspire profoundly thoughtful class discussions! This unit features double-sided handouts with 8-10 discussion questions for each section of Douglass's Narrative! The discussion questions are the beating heart of this curriculum. Every question is grounded in concrete textual details and challenges students to think critically about their significance. They challenge students to build interpretive arguments that require the support of carefully selected textual evidence — leading to keen interpretive insights! Guaranteed to foster deep thinking and dynamic discussions! (15 pages)

Discussion Questions ANSWER KEYS: The answer keys to the discussion questions are informed by cutting-edge scholarship by professors who specialize in African-American literature and especially Frederick Douglass: Henry Louis Gates, Saidiya Hartman, Fred Moten, David Blight, etc. Of course, there is rarely a single "correct" answer for any question; rather, the discussions questions are made up of higher-order questions designed to foster lively exchanges and interpretive debates among students. They challenge students to build interpretive arguments supported by carefully selected textual evidence. (35 pages)

Vocabulary Lists: Lists of 10-12 vocabulary words for every section of the book, complete with definitions and sample sentences with each word as used in Douglass's Narrative. A total of over 60 SAT-worthy words. (5 pages)

Vocabulary & Reading Quizzes: Build students’ vocabularies while holding them accountable for the nightly reading homework. Each quiz contains 7 questions on vocabulary words plus another 3 questions on reading comprehension. Grading these quizzes is simple and quick. They’re an easy way to log an additional 5 grades into your gradebook. Answer key included. (10 pages)

Literary Devices Quiz: This quiz challenges students to identify the literary devices used in thirty quotations from Douglass's memoir. The literary devices include metaphor, simile, hyperbole, personification, apostrophe, allusion, and more. This bundle also features a glossary with definitions of the literary devices as well as examples of how each device is used in Douglass's memoir — so you can review the devices with students before they tackle the quiz. The quiz can be used either for assessment or as a fun refresher. Answer key included. (5 pages)

Academic Scholarship: Excerpts from scholarly articles and monographs focused on specific scenes from Douglass's memoir. (1 page)

Writing Assignment: Challenge students to take their interpretations one step further by writing an analytical paper on Douglass's powerful memoir. Let students choose amongst 5 thought-provoking sample topics — or invite them to develop an original topic of their own. Writing schedule included. Rubric included. (5 pages)

Poetry Pairing: Seven thematically relevant poems by three twentieth-century African-American poets: Robert Hayden, Lucille Clifton, and Natasha Trethewey. (9 pages)

This unit is filled with dozens of visual images that shed light on important scenes from Douglass's memoir: illustrations from early editions of Douglass's memoir, documentary photographs of antebellum plantations, lyrics from the slave song that motivated Douglass to liberate himself, the masthead of Douglass's abolitionist newspaper, etc. But what really distinguishes this curriculum is how the discussion starters and writing prompts deepen students' thinking and help them arrive at profound interpretive insights!

This unit will come to you in a single 90-page Word document that is easy to navigate and quick to print. Because the document is editable, you'll be able to CUSTOMIZE every page to suit your teaching style and/or the needs of your students — year after year!

Finally, I believe that teachers should be able to see what they'll be getting before they purchase. So the preview for this resource provides direct access to dozens of actual pages from the unit. Click on the green “preview” button to see exactly what you’ll get...

Thank you for choosing “Rigorous Resources”!!

Happy teaching!

Adam Jernigan, Ph.D.


Total Pages
90 pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
3 Weeks
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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, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
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.
By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.


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