The sixth grade students read the novel Road to Memphis by Mildred D. Taylor for our reading language novel study unit. This story takes place in the rural south, Jackson Mississippi, during a vary dark time in African American history. The themes of our novel concentrated on many changes on race relationships with the characters. My students explored the themes of friendship, racism, trust and courage from the novel. We also selected this novel because it provided some interesting discussion on topics that centered around changes that African Americans faced during this time period. Students are challenged with a new kind of discrimination and it overlapped with some of our topics on the civil rights movement that impacted our culture. Our school wide black history month theme included various topics on the Civil Rights Movement. This novel study presented rich history and provided historical places, events and controversial issues that students took seriously. We integrated literature, art and history to accomplish the goals of this unit.
The students studied both literary devices and character analysis as part of the novel study. The character analysis focused on identifying a favorite character and learning about his or her traits and emotions. Students also learned about finding a characteristic that stands out to show a character's mood, feelings and attributes. Students selected one of their favorite scenes and a favorite character from the novel, and in the first arts integration assignment, they illustrated a symbol that represented a literary device. This student selected the character, Sissy. Sissy is the best friend of the the protagonist, Cassie. The student created an image of a fist hitting something which is a visualization of the literary device, onomatopoeia, for the sound word "POW!"
This student completed a character analysis on her favorite character, Stacey, the older brother of our protagonist, Cassie. She completed her character analysis and described the actions of her favorite character. She explains that Stacey is hardworking, he saves up his money to purchase his first car, and he lives in Jackson Mississippi. He is a nice dresser and dedicated to his friends and family. The literary device that this student selected was "Point of View." Point of view describes who is telling the story. Cassie is telling the story, however, her brother's voice is also heard. Students learned about first person and that some stories have a series of narrators, speaking in first or second person. This student decided to illustrate her symbol with a hat to represent the older brother. On the cover of the novel, Stacey wears his favorite hat.
This student completed her character analysis for her favorite character of Moe. She ties in her literary device of point of view along with the actions of the character. She indicates in her journal that Moe is a caring person. She thinks this because he cares more about others, his family, sister and friends. He is also hardworking, and he is working on his Papa's land. She learned about characters, how to focus on physical attributes, his smile, and she finds quotes and passages from the story to support her feelings about Moe. She illustrated her symbol, with a picture of a heart to represent his caring demeanor.