Grade 7 ELA Module 3, Unit 3

Student in class

In this unit, students write a picture book based on an event from the life of Frederick Douglass. First, students return to Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery[1], which they encountered in Unit 2. This children’s book serves as the model text, and the students read it and another children’s book closely to examine how the author used the tools of a narrative writer to craft a powerful story. Students then write their own book through a series of structured lessons, which are designed to help them all produce high-quality work. First, using their notes from Unit 2, they select an episode on which to focus and write a general plan for their story. Then they take those plans to a Writer’s Roundtable, where they discuss their plans and participate in a peer critique. In addition to being a valuable step in the writing process, this structured conversation serves as Part 1 of the mid-unit assessment (focusing on SL.7.1b, c, and d). Also leading up to the mid-unit assessment, students do a variety of learning activities that focus on sentence structure and build on the instruction from Unit 2. Part 2 of the mid-unit assessment consists of selected and constructed response centered on L 7.1a, b, d, and 7.2a. Students then begin a series of writer’s workshops. Within these lessons, students continue to learn about narrative writing techniques and the teacher gives a series of mini lessons centered on sensory language, precise word choice, strong verbs, and dialogue. They have class time to write several drafts of each page on storyboards. At various points they revise their writing based on peer review and self-assessment. Next, they turn in their completed storyboards (which serve as the end of unit assessment) for formal teacher feedback. Students also reflect on how they addressed audience and purpose in their stories. After the teacher returns the storyboards with feedback, the students create their illustrated children’s books. This book is the final performance task; students synthesize all they have learned about Frederick Douglass and the power of stories.


[1] The book, Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery, is integral to several lessons in this module, and is widely available in public and school libraries. However, a free alternative children’s book, Turning the Page–Frederick Douglass Learns to Read, and corresponding alternate lessons are available within Unit 2 and Unit 3 to accommodate schools/districts that are not able to secure a copy of Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery. 

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