In this eight-week module, students explore the life of Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave and noted abolitionist who wrote Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. The module focuses on the questions of what makes stories powerful and on understanding an author’s purpose. In addition, students analyze how writers use figurative language and word choice to convey meaning. In Unit 1, a recommended read-aloud of The People Could Fly introduces the topic and the question that connects all three units in the module: What gives stories and poems their enduring power? Next, students build the background knowledge that will allow them to more fully understand the context of the Narrative: they learn about slavery, Douglass’s life, and the debate over slavery in the United States before the Civil War. The Narrative is a compelling, complex, and somewhat lengthy text; in this module, students read five excerpts from the text. In Unit 1, they read the first two of those excerpts, building their capacity for making sense of this complex text and learning the routines that will guide their work for the remainder of the module. Then students study poetry about slavery. They learn how to read and analyze a poem, and are introduced to the tools that poets and other writers use to make stories powerful: word choice and figurative language.
Unit 2 centers on the analysis of excerpts from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Students read three excerpts, analyze how each excerpt served Douglass’s purpose, and consider how he used language to convey meaning. They have consistent practice with short constructed responses that use evidence from the text. The End of Unit 2 Assessment is an essay in which students explain how the Narrative conveyed Douglass’s purpose and distinguished his position from that of others (RI.7.6). In addition, students develop a clearer understanding of how sentences are constructed, and they use this understanding to help them read and write (L.7.1). In Unit 3, students write their own powerful story, using Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery as a mentor text. They select one event from the Narrative and rewrite it as a picture book for younger students, making sure that the story they create is powerful, just as the stories they have been reading are powerful. This final performance task addresses ELA standards W.7.3, W.7.4, W.7.5, W.7.9, W.7.11, L.7.1, L.7.2, L.7.3, and L.7.6.
 This children’s book 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 now 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.