Unit 10: The Warmth of Other Suns
Students continue to examine the Great Migration, the massive relocation that cause more than six million African-Americans to move out of the South between 1915 and 1970, in The Warmth of Other Suns.
Between 1915 and 1970 more than six million African-Americans moved out of the South to cities across the Northeast, Midwest, and West. This relocation—called the Great Migration—resulted in major demographic shifts across the United States. Many history teachers teach about migration to Ellis Island but few focus on this massive flight of six million blacks who left their homeland looking for a better life in the northern part of the United States.
In this unit, students explore the circumstances in which individuals in the Great Migration made decisions about picking up and moving to foreign cities in the North. As students read The Warmth of Other Suns, they consider the historical context of their previous unit Fences in order to better empathize with the complicated protagonist Troy Maxson and the decisions he made in his life as an emigrant from the South. Students will also examine the power of storytelling through different genres such as literary nonfiction (Warmth of Other Suns), drama (Fences), poetry (poems by Richard Wright and Langston Hughes), song (Bessie Smith’s “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”) and other visual media (mostly photography and painting). In doing so, they compare the structure of each text and analyze how each medium conveys the idea of migration and its impact on an individual. Importantly, teachers will notice that this unit references both literature and informational standards as the genre literary nonfiction is a type of prose that draws on literary techniques associated with fiction to report on real persons, places, and events in the world. The Warmth of Other Suns, therefore, requires both sets of standards to better access the text.
It is important to note for teachers that there is no test with multiple choice questions at the end of this unit. The assessment at the end of the unit is a two-day writing project as explained in lesson 8.
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Book: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (First Vintage Books Edition, 2011)
Visual: One-Way Ticket by Langston Hughes
Resource: Images of the Great Migration
Article: “Chicago’s Great Migration: Blacks Leaving Historic Neighborhoods To Return South” by Trymaine Lee (HuffingtonPost.com)
Video: “Isabel Wilkerson: 2011 Heartland Prize for Non-Fiction” by Chicago Humanities Festival (YouTube)
Video: “Bessie Smith: Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” by MiM Musicians in Mourning (YouTube) ((2015))
Video: “August Wilson on How the Blues Influences His Work”
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
Specific skills to focus on when giving feedback on writing assignments
Students will continue to work on dissecting the prompt by breaking it into parts in order to fully grasp what it is asking before starting their outlining and drafting pages. They will focus on fully answering the prompt with a clear thesis statement and then two or three reasons that support that thesis. They will also work on varying their transitions in order to enhance the flow of an entire compare-and-contrast essay. Importantly, students will work on providing accurate evidence to support their claims and analyzing the diction in that evidence so that they are connecting it back to the thesis of the essay.
W.1b, d (elaboration)
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
allusion, literary nonfiction
dole (p. 3), undue (p. 4), consign (p. 7), sentimentality (p.7, root: SENT-), resentment (p. 7), caste system (pp. 7, 8), sheer (p. 9), alien (p. 9 and Wright poem), configuration (p. 10), discontent (p. 11), migrant (p. 11 [also teach immigrant, emigrant, migration]), verifiable (p. 13), distortion (p. 14), phenomenon (p. 14), untenable (p. 14), eternal (p. 20), austere (p. 21), attribute (p. 21), unwittingly (p. 21), tendency (p. 21), consume (p. 26) demographics (p. 2, “Chicago’s Great Migration”)
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.
Analyze a Richard Wright poem for theme and tone.
Explain why the author alludes to a specific line in a Richard Wright poem.
Make inferences based on photographs and graphics of the Great Migration.
Closely read a passage for central idea, motivation, author’s purpose (intent), and extended metaphor.
Explain the prominent theme in the text.
Make thematic connections between The Warmth of Other Suns and Fences.
Analyze the author’s deliberate juxtaposition and how it impacts the reader.
Reread an excerpt of an introduction to identify prominent themes to trace throughout the text.
Read an article about reverse migration and identify, using evidence from The Warmth of Other Sons, what would motivate people to participate in a reverse migration.
Identify author's purpose from an interview.
Compare and contrast how the different structures of texts by August Wilson, Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson, Isabel Wilkerson and Bessie Smith, contribute to their portrayals of the African American experience.
Use direct evidence in a literary discussion about the meaning of specific quotes in Wilkerson’s introduction.
Compare the Great Migration to another piece of literature or an era in history.
Writing – 2 days
Evaluate the advantages/disadvantages of each medium (poetry, drama, literary nonfiction in addressing the idea of migration and its impact on an individual’s life.
Complete and submit their end-of-unit assessment.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
— Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
— Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
— Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
— Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.
— Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
— Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
— Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
— Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
— Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.
— Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
— Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content
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