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Mr Josh Cauhorn / English 11 Honors

Unit: Realism
Lesson: 2 – Understanding Frederick Douglass’s Slave Narrative
Length: ~40 mins

IDOE Standards Covered

Standard 2: READING: Comprehension and Analysis of Nonfiction and
Informational Text
Students read and understand grade-level-appropriate text.

11.2.2 Analyze the way in which clarity of meaning is affected by the patterns of
organization, repetition of the main ideas, organization of language, and word choice in
the text.
11.2.4 Make reasonable assertions about an author’s arguments by using elements of
the text to defend and clarify interpretations.
11.2.5 Analyze an author’s implicit and explicit assumptions and beliefs about a subject.
11.2.6 Critique the power, validity, and truthfulness of arguments set forth in public
documents, speeches, or essays; their appeal to both friendly and hostile audiences;
and the extent to which the arguments anticipate and address reader concerns and

At the end of this lesson, the student will be able to:
1. Analyze the elements of Realism within Douglass’s slave narrative.
1.1 Explain that the realistic, descriptive nature of the piece is characteristic
of Realism.
2. Break down the elements of style that make Douglass’s narrative vibrant and
2.1 Critique the effectiveness of Douglass’s style, considering potential goals
in writing the narrative.
3. Reconstruct key elements of effective style in his or her own narrative.



Draw chart that looks like this on the board:

Think chart: What were you given that Frederick Douglass wasn’t?
What Douglass was born into What ____________ was born into
Bring up short PowerPoint describing slave superstition.

0-8 mins / Anticipatory Set and Introduction

“Last night you read Frederick Douglass’s slave narrative, and you should have filled
out a chart outlining his physical realities with his reactions. I’d like you to get out that
chart. Before we begin though, I have a question for you. What were you born into, here
in 2009, that Mr. Douglass was not?”

Solicit one name from the class. Write this name in the blank on the chart. Have
students give ideas to write in each box.

“The kind of writing that Douglass used in this work is called a narrative. I am handing
out a notes sheet on this kind of writing. We’ll fill it out as we go through this text so that
you can understand what makes this kind of writing effective before you begin your own
narrative essay. I am also handing out the narrative essay assignment sheet; this
describes what you will be doing for your essay”

Go through the two sheets; check for basic understanding of directions.

8-35 mins / Work Through Text

“Yesterday, I said that we’d be writing a narrative of our own. Douglass examples the
key elements of a good narrative, so as we discuss his writing, I have given you a notes
sheet to fill out. I’ll be pointing out things in his writing that I’d like you to implement in
your own narratives. In addition, if you see something on the notes sheet that you see in
his writing, point it out to the class. I guarantee I’ve missed something.”

Discuss the text using the following notes:

Pg. 540 – line 17 – This is a good line for a narrative. Why?

Pg. 541 – This passage describes the brutality of slavery.
Why do you think that Douglass was so awkward in the fields? (analyze what you
know of him so far) (ex. – he was nerdy and academic, not necessarily the best
kind of guy to work in the fields)
Pg. 542 – Douglass uses poetic devices (helper letter “E” in the book) to evict
compassion from the reader. What are they?
Pg. 543 – There is imagery of bloody head and gore. Extreme pain. This is Realism.
(from helper letter “F” in book) Why didn’t Douglass describe his own reactions to
suffering? (ex. – this makes it more universal, shows humility, gives it a purpose)
How does this make you as the reader feel?
Pg. 544 – Emphasize circled words in the text and associate with brutality and Realism
Pg. 546 – Point out the superstition of putting root in pocket to not get whipped. Go
through slave superstition PowerPoint (documents/english 11
h/realism/slavesuperstition.pptx), reading notes for each slide.PP
-Douglass resolved to fight back. Would anyone disagree with this decision?
Does he even have a chance against the white people in power?
Mr Josh Cauhorn / English 11 Honors

35-40 Closure and present reflective journal writing

“Today we discussed Douglass’s slave narrative, examining how it relates to Realism

and what elements of narrative writing make the writing vibrant and effective. For your
journal (half page single spaced typed OR half page written single spaced), this is your

“Critique Douglass’ narrative writing. Using specific examples from the text, what parts
of his story really affect you? Could he have done something better?”

Materials Needed

-PowerPoint and projector
-Notes Sheet for Narrative Writing (documents/english 11 h/realism/narrative notes
-Info page for Narrative Essay Assignment (documents/english 11 h/realism/narrative
essay description.docx)
-Slave Superstition PowerPoint

Formative Assessment

I will check understanding during discussion and ensure that there is participation. Also,
I will guide students in the discussion to see the key elements of narrative writing.

Learning Styles

• visual/spatial (Graphic Organizer)

• verbal/linguistic (discussion)
• interpersonal (discussion)
• intrapersonal (journal writing)


None, as these are advanced students.



-Slave Superstition Website