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Lesson Plan: Alexis McGee and ReAnna Roby

As doctoral students, we—Alexis McGee and ReAnna Roby—see the need to disrupt the skewed perceptions of Black Feminism illustrated in texts, characters, and conversations found in not only our daily lives but also the academy. We see the opportunity to utilize “Theresa, A ___ Haytien Tale,” in English classrooms—more specifically World Literature, Comparative Literature, Women’s Literature—and/or Literacy and Education courses housed in Black Studies or emphasizing Black Studies as a way to document a change in Feminist perspectives.

These micro-shifts offer viable options for redirecting students and educators away from whitewashed texts, sometimes, limiting perceptions and depictions of literature in breadth and depth as well as adding a genuinely interactive space for learning at any age. Thus our pragmatic contribution to JTOAA is meant to enhance these micro-shifts in Black Feminist Literature.

Below is a lesson plan outline for teaching “Theresa, A ___ Haytien Tale” that can be adapted for various grade levels; however, our primary focus was Sophomore- or Junior- level courses within an English department. This lesson plan can function as part of or as a full day of instruction noted on one’s syllabi. We have incorporated, ideally, how we have situated “Theresa” within class readings and discussion.

 

Syllabi: Lesson Plan for Teaching “Theresa, A ___ Haytien Tale,”

Subject: English / Literature, World Literature, Comparative Literature, Women’s Literature, Literacy, Education, Black Studies

Grade Level: Sophomore- and/or Junior- level courses (can be adapted for college Freshman and high school level courses)       

Instructional Plan Title/Focus: The Development of Black Feminist Text(s) and character(s) Learning Targets:

  1. Rationale: Throughout this course, students will engage with a number of Feminist readings. Our goal is to make connections from early national to recent readings in the ways of Black Feminism. We aim to discuss, investigate, and form constructive ideas of the multidimensional approaches and depictions of Black Women portrayals in fiction and non-fiction.
  1. Purpose: The purpose of this unit is to connect “Theresa” and the characters in “Theresa” to American Black Feminist texts and other Black women during transitioning periods (e.g. the revolution).
  1. Learning targets (objectives) :
    1. What does “Theresa” teach us about black women’s needs to “shift” (cf. Jones and Shorter-Gooden) during the American and Haitian revolutions?
    2. How does Theresa navigate her multiple and shifting identities (including dark-skinned black, prepubescent, girl child? – in mourning, daughter, sister, incipient black nationalist) while in the war zone of the Haitian Revolution?
  2. Prior Learning Experiences: The teaching of “Theresa” will be presented within the last three weeks of the course. Students would have already read and engaged in discussion with the following texts:
      1. Zackodnick, Teresa C. “We Must Be Up and Doing”: A Reader in Early African American Feminisms. New York: Broadview Press, 2010.
      2. Jones, Charisse, and Kumea Shorter-Gooden. Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America. New York: Perennial, 2003.

Assessment Strategies:

Content /Language Objectives Assessment Strategies
What does “Theresa” teach us about black women’s needs to “shift” (cf. Jones and Shorter-Gooden) during the American and Haitian revolutions? Formative: Draw on specific examples from the text 

Summative: Compare “Theresa” text to Shifting and We Must Be Up and Doing, classroom discussions, and personal experiences

How does Theresa navigate her multiple and shifting identities (including dark-skinned black girl child -prepubescent?- in mourning, daughter, sister, incipient black nationalist) while in the war zone of the Haitian Revolution? Formative: Draw on specific examples from the text 

Summative: Compare “Theresa” text to Shifting and We Must Be Up and Doing, classroom discussions, and personal experiences

Grouping of Students for Instruction / Learning/Teaching Experiences: * This activity was constructed for a 20 minute presentation but can be adapted with the inclusion of discussion and other demonstrations or activities to extend this lesson plan. 

Opening activity (15 mins): Use a blank Venn diagram as a way to frame and contextualize “Theresa.”

  • (I-3 min) Using a word bank of vocabulary, events, people, and places important to the unit, have the students place different words in their respective circle (Haiti/United States during their respective revolutions) according to “Theresa” and classroom discussions of the story.
  • (II- 3 min) Ask students to share their interpretations of the constructed identities of America and Haiti during transition periods. The construction of the Venn diagram represents the similarities and differences found in “Theresa” and early Black Feminist America.
  • (III- 12 mins) Present a filled in version of the Venn diagram and discuss various representations identities can take on using the word bank or class lexicon.
  • (IV- 2 mins) Ask for questions; ask for alternative ways or rearrangements now that students have seen intertextual approach to linking “Theresa” and situations found in the story.

Closing activity (5 mins): As a way of reframing the information to ensure grasp of conceptual, rhetorical approaches of “Theresa,” ask students to create a “Bio Poem” (3 mins):

  • Line 1 write the person’s name or the topic
  • Line 2 write 3 adjectives that describe the person or topic
  • Line 3 write what the person embraced
  • Line 4 write how the person or topic made a difference on society
  • Line 5 write how the person or topic is remembered
  • Line 6 write a fear of the person or concept
  • Line 7 write the year, era, or time period in which the character(s) lived
  • Line 8 End w/ a repeat of Line One
  • After having time to write, have students share Bio poems and reflect (5 min).
  1. Instructional Materials, Resources, and Technology:
    • Computer
    • Internet
    • File sharing compatibility
    • Paper and writing utensils
    • Reading materials (optional)

Additional Requirements / Amendments:

Diagrams can be created as a digital and interactive component or as handouts for tangible take-away items for the specific lesson plan. As always, the students and/or class can create their own diagrams on scratch paper or individual, blank pages. This also creates a space for students to utilize artistic representations and illustrations that can add another layer of understanding of the information presented.

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