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Knowledge

Menu Part 3 - Rules


Category
Poetry

Title
1. I, Too Sing
America

2. Harlem
Hopscotch

3. If We Must
Die

4. Negro
Speaks of
Rivers

Author/Year
Description
Langston
In this poem, the narrator speaks of his legitimacy as an American. The narrator mentions how
Hughes
the social rules of his society cause him to be treated like a second-class citizen. His chooses to
(1921)
laugh at the absurdity of these rules that keep him down since he knows that one day they will
change and that these moments are what make him a stronger person. This is a great poem for
students as it demonstrates the ability for people to grow from the unjust rules of society and
the strength and hope it can give them. This poem would be incorporated along with If We
Must Die to help students understand the kind of social rules the poetry of the Harlem
Renaissance was questioning. They would use this poem as a model for their own poetry about
a challenge in their life that has helped make them stronger.
Maya Angelou Talks about the shuffle that black Americans must learn how to master in lower socio-
(1969)
economic communities such as Harlem. This relates the rules of a well-known childrens game
to the rules of the social and economic atmosphere of places like Harlem. This helps students
grasp the idea of the existence of rules on a greater social level and the commentary Angelou is
making about the racial tension within these communities. This poem would be used to discuss
what makes a good metaphor and serve as a model for creating their own metaphorical poetry.
Claude McKay This poem expresses the attitudes McKay had toward the Red Summer of 1919, a moment in
(1919)
time in which hate crimes were at an unusual high in the D.C. area. The poem is especially
poignant due to its structure. It is specifically written in the Petrarchan form to demonstrate
his ability to write in the elevated canonical style in order to validate his commentary. This
utilization of language demonstrates how abiding by rules in a non-traditional way has
potential to make a strong commentary on the system at large. This would be taught alongside
I, Too Sing America to compare and contrast the different messages these poets are
communicating. This poem would provide a good discussion on the poems relevance to its
historical context helping introduce the poetry units historical context.
Langston
This poem provides a lot of discussion about ancestry and cultural authenticity. This concept
Hughes
applies perfectly to rules as it is a poem about rejection of white normativity and allowing
(1920)
oneself to drink in their own culture. This kind of poem would be taught alongside Lois Mailou
Joness untitled painting. After comparing and contrasting the themes within the painting and
the poem, the activity would serve as a model for an assignment in which each student must

Knowledge Menu Part 3 - Rules

create a poem that describes the country their family members came from and can be
accompanied by a drawing they make as well.
5. Sonnet 18
William
This poem is one of Shakespeares most famous sonnets that will acquaint students with the
(Shall I
Shakespeare
authors lasting impact on English literature. Analyzing the way in which Shakespeare changed
Compare Thee (1608)
the sonnet form demonstrates how creative innovation can spark a great change in tradition.
To a
Students will use the First Draft Reading Notes exercise when approaching this text to help
Summers
guide their thoughts. A think-pair-share would soon follow, leading to a whole class discussion
Day)
by the end of the class.
I chose poems from the Harlem Renaissance because they are able to connect with readers of all levels due to their deep themes yet simplistic
language. This genre of writing also provides so much opportunity for students to feel inspired by writers and feel as though they are able to
create something on their own. Not only do poems make great model texts for their own poetry, but they also allow kids to immerse
themselves in different ideas and cultures. Poems also serve as a great way of challenging social rules through their use of language, structure,
and theme.
Short
1. Rules of the Amy Tan
Waverly, a young Asian-American girl growing up in San Francisco begins playing chess
Story
Game
(1985)
competitively pushing her to explore her individuality. Along the way, she must confront the
complicated relationship she has with her mother. This story will have students thinking about
the rules of family power dynamics and what usurping that kind of authority means on an
intercultural level. This story would be paired up with an SWBS Chart and a diary entry activity
that would ask students to write from the perspective of one of the character.
2. The Lottery Shirley
A village goes through their yearly tradition of picking a member of their community to
Jackson
partake in their gruesome age-old tradition of sacrifice. This story will encourage students to
(1948)
question the old traditions, values, and ideas that are still upheld within a modern world. After
discussing the idea of tradition and their loss or change in meaning over time, I would pair this
story up with the Where Did it Come From? activity, asking students to think about traditions
and then have them research how its celebration and meaning has or hasnt changed over
time.

Knowledge Menu Part 3 - Rules

Novel

3. The Most
Dangerous
Game

Richard
Connell
(1924)

Sanger Rainsford washes up onto the shores of a tropical island where a General Zaroff, a
sociopath, lives. He takes in Rainsford as a prisoner to his human hunting game. This story will
have students questioning what the rules of nature mandate and whether or not humanity
should have the right to disturb that natural order. This text would be especially interesting for
middle school students as it offers an adventurous tale of survival. This text would be paired
up with the Practice With Aphorisms exercise, complete with quotes specifically about
survival, humanity, and nature to adapt to the text.

1. The Giver

Lois Lowry
(1993)

2. The
Breadwinner

Deborah Ellis
(2009)

3. To Kill a
Mockingbird

Harper Lee
(1960)

This is a tale about a 12-year-old boy named Jonas who lives in a utopian society and has been
appointed receiver of memory. This mysterious occupation allows him to do many peculiar
things such as avoiding medicine, disregarding proper social etiquette, and, most importantly,
being able to break the law. This story explores many complex themes such as individuality,
memory, human emotion, and the meaning of life. I would definitely use the What the Future
Holds activity so that students could take the objects and ideas that are mentioned in the text
and visualize them using descriptive language.
This is the story of Parvana, a young girl living in Kabul, Afghanistan, and her survival under
the Taliban rule. After her father is arrested for receiving education outside of the country, her
family relies on her to support the family by having her dress up in masculine clothes so that
she may enter society as a working boy. Parvannas transition into her new lifestyle will give
students a more global and cultural perspective. I would pair this reading up with the I find
That Disturbing exercise so that the students they can get a better understanding of Middle
Eastern conflicts.
Scout, a young girl growing up in Macomb, Alabama, must learn how to morally navigate
herself through the dicey waters of her racist town during a controversial court trial that her
father is involved in. This literary classic explores important complex themes such as race,
justice, youth, and morality. Social rules involving race play a very large role in this novel,
which will prompt students to begin thinking about the social or racial rules that they
encounter within their own communities. Due to the abundance of themes, motifs, and
symbols throughout the text, I would have the students fill out a Niemeyers Chart as they

Knowledge Menu Part 3 - Rules

read to keep track of them.


4 Tuck
Natalie Babbitt Winnie Foster hates the idea of growing up and runs away to the forest finding a young boy
Everlasting
(1975)
along the way. She is taken in by his family and must make a decision about whether or not she
wants to join their eternal lifestyle. This book will engage students with the interesting themes
of mortality, eternity, and morality. I would have students use the What Would Have
Happened If exercise to prompt ideas about how the story could have changed if Winnie had
made different choices. After sharing their ideas, I would have them write a creative piece on
how the ending would have changed.
5. Frindle
Andrew
Nicholas Allen decides to make up a new word and implements it into his academic
Clements
community. When his 5th grade teacher asks him to stop the use of the word, its far too late as
(1996)
the people he knows have now adopted it into their everyday language. The power of language
and creation of words is at the center of this novel, demonstrating how much power one
persons idea can have on the world at large. To explore the meaning and creation of phrases
and words, I would have students use the Idiom Exploration exercise. I would teach this right
after studying Shakespeare and his impact on the English language.
I chose these particular five novels due to their deep themes yet young protagonists. Too often students are asked to read or write about
people and places that are un-relatable, however the theme that ties all of these novels together is a transition into young adulthood and an
exploration of identity and authority. These novels all have protagonists that are critical of their surroundings and are not afraid of
challenging the rules within their communities, especially if they find them to be morally wrong. My hope as a teacher is to be able to inspire
students to think for themselves and keep a critical eye on the world around them.
Drama
1. The Diary
Frances
This play, based on a young Jewish girl living with her family and friends in hiding during the
of Ann Frank Goodrich,
Nazi regime. This particular piece of drama is powerful as it takes direct quotes from the novel
Albert Hackett in it narrative points while also provide more dialogue and life to the characters due to its
(1955)
dramatic format. This play would pair up well with the Id Like to Know More About activity
to help students gain a better understanding of Franks historical context. This text would be
taught along with Hartfields Whosoever Reads so that they can understand the kind of
opposition that the Third Reich received from its people.
2. Peter and
Rick Elice
This play with music is a stage adaptation of the popular young adult series that has adapted
the
(2009)
Peter Pan. This drama focuses on the origin story of Peter before he became the immortal boy
Starcatcher

that everyone knows from the stories. This story revolves around the ideas of growing up,

Knowledge Menu Part 3 - Rules

3. The Miracle William


Worker
Gibson
(1962)

Childrens 1. Breaker
Lit
Boys

Michael
Burgen
(2011)

2. Rad
American
Women A-Z

Kate Schatz
(2015)

3. Where the
Wild Things
Are

Maurice
Sendak
(1963)

family, and self-empowerment. This text demonstrates the importance of rules within a mature
adult world in comparison to childhood. Considering this text as an interpretation of previous
interpretations of Peter Pan, I would use this idea to introduce the class into a text
reformulation exercise. Letting students claim the Peter Pan story into their own way will help
them understand the story in their own way.
This play is all about the unique relationship that Helen Keller had with her teacher and nanny
Anne Sullivan. Sullivans teachings about activism and education will inspire students to
believe in their own abilities as they read about Kellers growth. Kellers condition had many
people convinced that she would be un-teachable, and Sullivans ability to defy that
expectation will have students questioning how the implemented social and academic rules set
expectations for society. I would have students work in groups on the Most Important Word
charts to prompt a class discussion about the most important themes theyve identified.
This picture book presents the photographs of coal-mining child laborers in the United States
and how capturing these images were integral in the formation of child labor laws. This text
helps students begin to think about what it takes for rules to change. The photographs in this
picture book would be used as a Create a Caption activity that would prompt class discussion.
Afterward, I would reveal the actual history behind the photographs and read the book aloud
in class. This would be an introductory activity or hook to The Breadwinner, as it discusses the
difficulties of child laborers, introducing them to one of the primary conflicts within the novel.
This wonderful picture book goes through the entire alphabet choosing one influential woman
from American history to represent each letter with a stylized image of her and a short
biographical excerpt. This kind of picture book will allow students to recognize the unsung
heroes of American history and contemplate why they are not more widely known or spoken
of. I would split the classroom up into groups for a discussion about these women, the
relevance of their significance, and why we dont know them as well as other historical figures.
This would perfectly relate to the concept of rules as it is an evaluation of who gets to write
history and how its taught.
This famous childrens story is about a young boy named Max who gets punished one night for
making trouble at home. Once he is sent to his room for a time out, he uses his imagination to
escape his reality and indulges in his wild side, leading a great rumpus as the king of the wild

Knowledge Menu Part 3 - Rules

Non
Fiction

Art

things. This book is a great introductory text to Peter and the Starcatcher due to its similar
themes and characters. I would have students fill out graphic organizers in groups to think
about what the most important themes of the story is (basically an adaptation of most
important word).
1. The Color of James McBride Weaving his own struggles as mixed race man into the story of his mothers childhood as a
Water
(1995)
Jewish-American girl, James McBrides memoir is one of generational lessons and connections.
Feeling lost and along through much of the novel, he meditates on the societal prejudice and
pressures that are put on him considering his background. This novel will have students
contemplating the significance of family history and the importance of self-reliance. This kind
of memoir would serve as a model text for memoir writing within the classroom setting. The
activity I would pair it up with would be A Family Photo, having students think about the
important relationships theyve had in their life with family or friends and how they can
articulate their relationship.
2. I Am Malala Malala
Malala Yousafzais memoir begins with her account of standing up to the Taliban to fight for
Yousafzai
the right to education and being shot for it. The rest of her story is about her miraculous
(2013)
recovery and how her life has completely changed since then due to her dedication to
promoting education for women. This text would serve as a perfect model for the Watermark
Event writing assignment. I would adapt this assignment by making students think more
about how the event has changed them and how they can bring about change in their
community since learning from their experiences.
3. Born and
Johnah Winter This picture book presents a combination of photographs and drawings that depict what life
Bred in the
(2011)
was like in the United States during the Great Depression. This text would primarily be used to
Great
introduce the historical context behind To Kill A Mockingbird. This text works well with the
Depression
idea of rules as it describes the kind of people that lost the most during the crash. I would split
up the class into groups and give each of them one of the photographs that are featured in the
text. I would ask them to give a caption to the photo based on what they think it represents
historically and thematically. Afterward, I would reveal what the photos are from and read
them the picture book in class.
1. Whoever
John
This painting is a portrait of a man with a German newspaper completely covering his face and
Reads
Heartfield
neck. It is most famous for its criticism of the Nazi regime as it is meant to demonstrate the

Knowledge Menu Part 3 - Rules

Bourgeois
Newspapers
Becomes
Blind and
Deaf: Away
with These
Stultifying
Bandages!

2. Untitled

(1930)

kind of blindness that is attributed to people who believe everything they read and hear about
in the media. This painting was controversial for its time as it went against all the nationalistic
rules that Nazi German implemented. I would pair this painting up with the interpretation
chart that would require students to read the painting three separate times, noticing
something different with each reading. Due to the simplicity of the photo, this would require
students to think beyond their simplistic observation and delve into its meaning and
importance.

Lois Mailou
Jones
(unknown)

3. Obey
series /
various
political
prints

Shepherd
Fairey
(2008)

This is a painting from the Harlem Renaissance that shows a black man in a suit and tie with a
variation of cultural backgrounds, primarily ancient Egyptian ones. Joness painting is meant to
evoke a sense of cultural authenticity to the black community demonstrating the relics of their
ancestors from centuries ago. I would teach this painting alongside Negro Speaks of Rivers as
it lends itself well to the idea of the collectivity of the black spirit and its ability to adapt, thrive,
and travel. I would use the interpretation charts for this painting as well, but only after
discussing poem and its themes with the class. Thinking about the connection between these
two paintings would help students understand how art and poetry converse with one another.
These famous prints by Shepherd Fairey are known for criticizing the governments unethical
and controlling nature over its people. These prints show the word OBEY in big letters
demonstrating the amount of control that the government harnesses using scare tactics within
the media. These prints would be perfect to use as a tool to teach the dystopian themes of The
Giver. I would introduce the prints once the class is about halfway done with the novel and are
well acquainted with Jonass community from the story. I would split the class up into groups
and distribute one print per group along with a pad of sticky notes. I would have each group
perform a Think Silently exercise together, writing their thoughts out on a piece of paper and
sticking it to a table. Afterward, I would have all the groups look at their own table, and then
travel around the room at what their classmates had to say about the other prints. This would
be meant to spark class discussion about its significance in relation to the world of The Giver.
This video is a TED talk featuring Akala, a British rapper, who talks about how Shakespeares
poetry and drama is very similar to rap in its technique, meaning, rhythm, and meter. Akala

Media/ CE 1. Hip Hop


and

Akala
(2011)

Knowledge Menu Part 3 - Rules

Shakespeare:
Akala at TEDx

2. Langston
Hughes and
the Harlem
Renaissance

Crash Course
Literature by
John Green
(2014)

3. Romeo +
Juliet

Baz Lurman
(1996)

begins with a short quiz for the audience to participate in called Shakespeare or Hip-hop?
taking random lines from Hip-hop and Shakespeare, asking people to identify, which is which.
Afterward, he delves into the cultural significance both Shakespeare and Hip-hop and how it
has re-defined the idea of intellectual music. These countercultural movements are a great way
of exploring rules and how they can be fought against through artistic mediums. This would be
a video meant to hook students into the Shakespeare unit of poetry and dramatic excerpts. I
would make sure that the class would have a KWL chart they can fill out as they watch to keep
them engaged.
This video would help introduce the Harlem Renaissance unit of poetry to the students as well
as the biographical information about Langston Hughes. This will help students gather a better
understanding of historical context about the material they are about to learn about. This video
touches upon the fact that the Harlem Renaissance was about creating a creative atmosphere
that defies white normativity and allows artists the comfort and freedom to create a world that
they own. Those who spearheaded the movement, such as Langston Hughes, heavily influenced
the rules of this community. I would have students take guided notes on the video to help
navigate their discussion about the poems theyre about to read.
I would choose to show the opening duel scene from this movie to highlight the theme of
animosity and tradition. This would be a great scene to analyze rules with since everyone in
the scene is breaking the law. I would use this scene within the movie after reading the first
scene together in groups and having a discussion about it. Since this movie is highly stylized
and uniquely interpreted, I would have students watch this scene with a worksheet that would
require them to note all of the divergences from the text that the film has taken. This would
spark a discussion about how interpretation can greatly change the meaning or allusion of a
text.