INTEGRATED UNITS #3:

"When I Lay My Burden Down" (by Maya Angelou) - Objective: Recognize imagery.


As I always do in planning any lesson, my first task was to analyze the vocabulary that students would read in the literary work. I realized that to teach this lesson in 90 minutes, I had to select only a few passages to read to the students and to develop the concept of "imagery."  Since I was "wearing two hats," that is, I was both the English-As-Second Language teacher and the content area English teacher, I had to provide 
(1) a lesson that would build ALL the vocabulary needed to understand the selected passages in the reading;  and at the same time I needed to teach
(2) the concept of "imagery," that is, the stimulation of all five senses in the reader through the use of appropriate words by the author of the selection.

As I always do in planning any lesson, my second task was to find visuals to develop the concept of "imagery." I chose lots of pictures from magazines that I had found in the place where I was staying. The owner of the Murray House Inn always has truly beautiful magazines for her guests to read while they stay on the premises. I selected ad pictures and many other pictures from several magazines such as "OUR STATE, Down Home in North Carolina" (Annual Autumn Leaves Issue), "Veranda" (September-October, 2002), and "Victoria," a magazine "Celebrating the Achievements of Women" (November, 2002). My criterion in selecting the pictures was that one or two more senses --in addition to the sense of "sight," had to be perceived on each picture.

Thus, for example, there was an ad about luxurious oriental carpets which showed extraordinarily beautiful oriental carpets ("sight" and "touch") on the floor and the walls, and baskets of fruits ("taste"), some cut fruits in the baskets ("smell"), and assorted pillows and cushions with different geometric designs and textures ("touch" and "sight"). There was a magnificent picture of "Chimney Rock" in NC, showing "the distinctive outcrop of rock (sight" and "touch") overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Lure" ("sight" and "touch" and "smell"), and the very tall flag pole protruding from the rock where an American flag snapped with the wind ("hearing").

NOW, I was ready for my lesson.

I began by displaying the classroom management pictures which explicitly show students my expectations of them during the lesson: (1) students seated in the "attention position," that is, seated with their back against the back of the chair, feet on the ground, hands on the desk, eyes on the teacher; (2) students raising one hand to indicate they were ready to answer a question or to share their thoughts. Then I introduced the positive self esteem words that would be given by the other teachers observing the demonstration as students performed during the lesson: alert, self-controlled, competent, self-directed, responsible, informed, cooperative, thoughtful, and dedicated. These words were written on slips of paper for observing teachers to hand out to the students in the class.

Through questions I elicited from the students the names of the five senses and wrote them on the board: sight, taste, smell, touch and hearing. Showing each of the pictures I asked students to point to the objects in the pictures and to indicate which sense these objects stimulated in the viewer. Students pointed and, in the case of the English Learners, if they did not name the object(s), I named the objects for them and they repeated the names.

After viewing all the pictures, I suggested that a writer can also, through words, evoke in readers "imagery" that stimulates all the senses. BEFORE reading each of the three selected paragraphs, I introduced the vocabulary for each paragraph ORGANIZED INTO MEANINGFUL CATEGORIES. I wrote each word on the board (In my own classroom in Los Angeles I use an LCD --Liquid Crystal Display-- to introduce the vocabulary). As I wrote each word I explained its meaning (or in some cases showed a picture illustrating the meaning) or pantomimed the action. The students in the class entered/copied the words in hand-held computers.

First paragraph in the story: VOCABULARY

PLACE
the well
the house
the bed
the quilt
a switch
the bedroom door

ACTIONS
wash
grease
tiptoe
wipe
settle down
pull off
fall asleep / fallen asleep
examine
to place

QUALITIES
ice cold water
clear water
equally cold Vaseline
stiff Vaseline
famous
clean enough
aptly
burning

PARTS OF BODY
legs
toes
feet

PEOPLE
Momma (Grandmother)
offender

EVENTS
schoolwork
prayers
emergency
reminder

FOOD
corn bread
clabbered milk (thick clotted sour milk)

dust

After introducing all the needed vocabulary to fully understand the first paragraph in the story, I explained to the students what they were going to do: The classroom teacher would read the first paragraph in the story. As they listened and read silently along with the teacher, they were to choose the words in the paragraph that evoked each of the senses.

The classroom teacher read the first paragraph, the students listened, and then they explained which words the author had used to stimulate each of the senses.

The same procedure described above was used for the other two paragraphs that were read.

Here is the vocabulary for the paragraph that begins with "One summer morning . . ."

TIME
summer
morning

ACTIONS
sweep / swept
rake / raked
make / made
stand out / stood out
put
came through
admiring
looked like
(not) say anything (silence)

PLACE
yard / dirt yard
behind
the Store
the front porch
back of the house

OBJECTS
NATURE - leaves
spearmint-gum wrappers
Vienna-sausage labels
comb
big toothed comb

HOW - Adverbs
carefully
clearly
masklike

PEOPLE
Grandmother (Momma)

COLORS
yellow-red dirt
white

SHAPES
half moons
the design
flat redhead

CLOTHING
apron

starch

QUALITIES
big
wide
stiff
stood alone

Here is the vocabulary for the paragraph that describes the three poor white girls:

CLOTHING
dresses

MATERIAL
cotton

QUALITIES
dirty / dirt
greasy
uncombed
grim finality
blurry / unreal

ACTIONS
continue
hang down
knelt / kneel
see
remember
slipped down
take a deep breath
to have doubts
revolve

BODY PARTS
legs
feet
arms
faces
hair
tears

PEOPLE
girls (white poor girls)

IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS
"to make them all of a piece"

PLACE
front yard
the world

COLORS
uncolored
dark spot

 

 

 


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5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

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Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
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