Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s “Learning to Read”

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Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's poem "Learning to Read" is the focus of a lesson that teaches middle schoolers how to do a close reading of a text. The lesson introduces them to a brief biography of the poet, includes a video reading, and provides a worksheet that asks readers to summarize the meanings of each poem's lines. A final assessment tests their understanding of the poem.

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CCSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas
  • Use the poem to introduce scholars to the close reading comprehension strategy
  • Use during February's African American History Month
Classroom Considerations
  • Class members should have some knowledge of the antebellum south
  • An answer key is provided for the final assessment
  • None