Analyzing an Author’s Craft Part 2: Carlotta’s Journey to Justice | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M3B:U2:L19

Analyzing an Author’s Craft Part 2: Carlotta’s Journey to Justice

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can analyze the development of a theme or central idea throughout the text (including its relationship to supporting ideas). (RI.8.2)
  • I can analyze how specific dialogue or incidents in a plot propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision. (RL.8.3)
  • I can use correct grammar and usage when writing or speaking. (L.8.1)
  • I can explain the function of verbals (gerunds, participles, infinitives) in general and their function in particular sentences. (L.8.1.a)
  • I can recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood. (L.8.1d)
  • I can analyze figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. (L.8.5)

Supporting Targets

  • I can recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood.
  • I can analyze the development of a central idea in A Mighty Long Way.

Ongoing Assessment

  • A Mighty Long Way structured notes, Chapter 16, pages 255-264 (from homework)
  • Sentence voice and mood
  • Exit ticket


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A.  Engaging the Writer: Language Techniques (13 minutes)

     B.  Reviewing Learning Targets (1 minute)

2.  Work Time

     A.  Analyzing the Journey: "This Little Light of Mine" (26 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  Exit Ticket: Conditional and Subjunctive Moods (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A.  Read Chapter 17 and complete the structured notes.

  • In the Opening of this lesson, students learn about conditional and subjunctive mood to analyze how authors use a variety of sentence types to create voice and mood, enhancing meaning. This opening is the first of a three-lesson series in which students focus on language skills during the Opening. The series is designed to prepare students for the End of Unit 3 Assessment, which will test their ability to identify active and passive voices, identify conditional and subjunctive moods, and analyze word meanings and word choice.  Be sure to have students hold onto the materials to refer to them since these standards will be assessed in the end of unit assessment.
  • See the Opening for the distinction between mood and verb tense. The Common Core State Standards refer to conditional and subjunctive as moods in L.8.1. Moods can be indicated using various verb tenses, and are not limited to present or past tense, for example. For more information, see the Purdue Online Writing Lab.
  • Throughout A Mighty Long Way, there are various examples of both the conditional and subjunctive moods. While the subjunctive is rarely used in American English, Walls Lanier sometimes uses it to show her wishes or hopes. In addition, she sometimes uses the conditional when making logical inferences and presenting hypothetical cause and effect relationships.
  • Students work with the conditional and subjunctive moods in this lesson to determine the correct voice or mood to use. This language standard (L.8.1) is highlighted as one that must be revisited throughout eighth grade and high school, as students become more sophisticated writers.
  • Language standards require consistent practice and reinforcement. Based on the needs of your students, find additional opportunities to teach and practice these standards. Supplemental language mini lessons and activities are included in the supporting materials for this lesson. These supplemental mini lessons may be used for additional instruction or used as a model for additional teacher-created language mini lessons based on students' needs. The supplemental materials provided at the end of this lesson are designed to provide review of and direct instruction on the grammatical concepts included in this lesson, as well as Unit 3, Lessons 1 and 2.
  • In this lesson, working with the language standards described above, students return to A Mighty Long Way to further analyze the central idea of finding one's voice, which was introduced in Lesson 18. This idiom of "finding one's voice" will be central to the performance task that completes this module.
  • At the end of Work Time A, play the song "This Little Light of Mine" by the Soweto Gospel Choir. This song can be found by searching for 'Soweto Gospel Choir This Little Light of Mine' on free music or video streaming websites, for example YouTube.
  • Please bear in mind that Youtube, social media video sites, and other website links may incorporate inappropriate content via comment banks and ads. While some lessons include these links as the most efficient means to view content in preparation for the lesson, be sure to preview links, and/or use a filter service, such as, for actually viewing these links in the classroom.
  • This song was popular during the civil rights movement and relates directly to the third stage in Carlotta's journey to justice and finding one's voice. It also expresses the role in which Carlotta found herself, as a model of the type of person who does good in the world.
  • In advance:

-   Prepare technology to play "This Little Light of Mine" during Work Time A.

-   Search for the song 'This Little Light of Mine,' by the Soweto Gospel Choir on free music or video streaming websites, for examples YouTube.

  • Post: Learning targets.


conditional mood, subjunctive mood, finding one's voice, idiom, bushel


  • A Mighty Long Way (book; distributed in Unit 1, Lesson 1)
  • Conditional and Subjunctive Mood (one per student)
  • Sentence Voice and Mood handout (one per student)
  • Sentence Voice and Mood handout (answers, for teacher reference)
  • "This Little Light of Mine" (audio; see Teaching Notes)
  • "This Little Light of Mine" lyrics (one for display)
  • Technology to play audio link
  • Journey to Justice note-catcher (begun in Unit 1, Lesson 3; students' own)
  • Journey to Justice note-catcher (for teacher reference; from Unit 1, Lesson 3)
  • Exit Ticket: Conditional and Subjunctive Mood (one per student)
  • Exit Ticket: Conditional and Subjunctive Mood (for teacher reference)
  • A Mighty Long Way Structured Notes, Chapter 17, pgs. 265-274 (one per student)
  • A Mighty Long Way Supported Structured Notes, Chapter 17, pgs. 265-274  (optional; only for students who need more support)
  • A Mighty Long Way Structured Notes Teacher Guide, Chapter 17, pgs. 265-274  (for teacher reference)
  • Supplemental language mini lessons (four mini-lessons; optional; for teacher reference)
  • Supplemental language activities (one activity associated with mini-lessons 1 and 2; optional; one per student)
  • Supplemental language teacher guide (one guide associate with mini-lessons 3 and 4; optional; for teacher reference)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Writer: Language Techniques (13 minutes)

  • Invite students to take A Mighty Long Way and sit with their Chicago discussion partners.
  • Distribute the Conditional and Subjunctive Mood handout.
  • Explain that conditional and subjunctive mood are two ways authors can structure sentences, and authors can use both moods to aid understanding. Walls Lanier uses both in her book, and it's important for students both to see how she uses these language tools, and to be able to use them themselves.
  • Explain that conditional and subjunctive are not tenses; they are moods. A mood can take on a variety of tenses, and does not just have to be in the present or the past tense, and it is the manner in which a thought is expressed.  These moods emphasize the actor or the action, express uncertainty, or describe a state contrary to fact
  • Cold call a student to read the definition of conditional mood from the handout.
  • Read the examples on the handout and explain that conditional mood is about things that are likely to happen, might happen, or could happen.
  • Cold call a student to read the definition of subjunctive mood. Read the examples and explain that the subjunctive is rarely used in English. We use the subjunctive to communicate things that are unlikely to happen or even imaginary. The key word "if" is often used in the subjunctive.
  • Read Tip 1 and explain that wishful sentences call for the subjunctive mood of the verb "to be," which is "were" when using I, he, or she.
  • Read Tip 2 and explain that sentences can be both conditional and subjunctive.
  • Invite students to work with their partners to practice identifying conditional and subjunctive sentences, using examples mostly from A Mighty Long Way. Circulate and monitor. 
  • When students are done, go over the answers.
  1. conditional
  2. subjunctive
  3. conditional
  4. conditional
  5. subjunctive and conditional
  6. subjunctive
  • Review Sentence 2, which is a great example of the distinction between imagination (subjunctive mood) and possible cause and effect statement (conditional). Although the sentence contains the word "if," it clearly refers to Carlotta's imagining a diner instead of her own kitchen.
  • Focus on Sentence 5, which may confuse many students. Point out that Sentence 5 contains the word "if" and shows a possible cause effect relationship AND it is implied that Carlotta does not, or cannot, fight back; she is simply thinking about the possibility of it. This means that the sentence is in the subjunctive mood and the conditional mood at the same time.
  • Distribute the Sentence Voice and Mood handout.
  • Tell students they will now do some independent practice with the subjunctive and conditional moods.
  • Have students practice by individually completing the handout. Circulate and clarify as needed.
  • Once students have completed the handout, display the Sentence Voice and Mood (answers, for teacher reference).
  • Review each sentence, clarifying as needed.
  • Explain to students that studying the author's craft and use of language techniques such as voice and mood will help them students further analyze the central idea of finding one's voice, which they started to study in the previous lesson.
  • Additional modeling may be required. Modeling provides a clear vision of the expectation for students.   See supplemental language mini lessons for more resources on additional modeling and practice opportunities.

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (1 minute)

  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and read the first one aloud:

*   "I can recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood."

  • Give students specific positive feedback on this learning target based on their performance in Opening A.
  • Read aloud the second learning target:

*   "I can analyze the development of a central idea in A Mighty Long Way."

  • Tell students they will now go back to the text itself to learn more about the central idea of finding one's voice.
  • Posting learning targets for students allows them to reference them throughout the lesson to check their understanding. Learning targets also provide a reminder to students and teachers about the intended learning behind a given lesson or activity.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Analyzing the Journey: "This Little Light of Mine" (26 minutes)

  • Focus students' attention on the passage that was read aloud in Lesson 18--on pages 242-243 in A Mighty Long Way--to introduce the new central idea of finding one's voice.
  • Have students engage in a Think-Pair-Share after each of the following questions.
  • Ask:

*   "When Carlotta is able to reflect on her experiences as a teenager, what is her perspective?"

  • Listen for students to say that once Carlotta let herself remember the abuse she endured and feel the hurt from 30 years earlier, she finally was able to cry about it.
  • Probe deeper by having students reflect on the quote on page 243, "I had to find a way to make peace with my past." Ask:

*   "How had Carlotta's work with AIDS victims already begun the process of making peace with her past?"

  • Listen for students to note that she was in service to others who were victims of injustice; she could identify with them, and how much their experiences of discrimination hurt them.
  • Explain that it was through this that Carlotta began to find her voice.
  • Ask:

*   "What do you think it means to find one's voice?"

  • Listen for students to understand that this means to be able to express oneself accurately or figure out the message you want others to hear. It is the communication of one's deepest beliefs and values; the way one tells a story.
  • Sum up by sharing that Carlotta was already finding her voice by continuing to help other people who were targets of abuse because they were different (having AIDS) and that she was ready to begin to reflect on her own experiences and face them for what they were and what they shaped her to become.
  • Tell students to consider Carlotta's journey through the end of Chapter 15 (page 254).
  • Ask:

*  "In what other ways does Carlotta continue to find her voice?" 

  • Listen for students to point out that Carlotta is the one member of the Little Rock Nine who makes the effort to keep the nine of them in close contact for years to come, after the 30th anniversary. Carlotta, contrary to her role when she was young, is also the member of the Nine who regularly speaks about her experiences and faces the emotions that arise as memories of the trauma and mistreatment surface. She even becomes the spokesperson for the group.
  • Ask:

*   "How do you explain the idiom or figure of speech of 'finding one's voice' as it relates to Carlotta's journey to justice?"

  • Listen for students to point out that Carlotta is becoming able to speak about her own experiences and truths, regardless of the negative memories and emotions that surface for her when she has flashbacks. She realizes that her story is one worth sharing so that other people don't have to experience such racism and intolerance.
  • Summarize for students by explaining that deep inside, Carlotta was repressing the feelings of humiliation and loss of dignity she experienced during her years at Central High School.
  • Explain to students that the title of this stage of Carlotta's journey is based on a gospel song that was widely sung during the civil rights movement.
  • Play the song "This Little Light of Mine," and display the lyrics. Invite students to read the lyrics in their heads as they listen to the song. 
  • Ask students to Think-Pair-Share with their discussion partners:

*   "What does it mean to let your light shine? How is Carlotta letting her light shine after she finds her voice? In what ways is she no longer 'hiding it under a bushel' as one of the lines says?

  • Listen for students to speak about Carlotta's work with AIDS victims, her speaking tours to educate people about the desegregation movement in our history, and her work with the Little Rock Nine Foundation, as well as the writing of this book.
  • If needed, clarify that a bushel is a container like a barrel that is able to contain a large amount.
  • Have students take out their Journey to Justice note-catchers.
  • Draw students' attention to the third and final stage on the note-catcher. Orient them to the questions on this stage.
  • Invite students to work with their partners to begin filling in the details in the "This Little Light of Mine" third stage.
  • When reviewing graphic organizers or recording forms, consider using a document camera to display the document for students who struggle with auditory processing.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Exit Ticket: Conditional and Subjunctive Moods (5 minutes)

  • Distribute the Exit Ticket: Conditional and Subjunctive Moods.
  • Tell students you would like to see how much they remember from the opening of the lesson, when the learned about conditional and subjunctive moods.
  • Have students complete the exit ticket.
  • Collect students' exit tickets. Consider using the Exit Ticket: Conditional and Subjunctive Moods (for teacher reference) to check students' exit tickets for understanding.  Be sure clarify as needed in the next lesson.
  • Distribute A Mighty Long Way structured notes, Chapter 17, pgs. 265-274 for homework. Preview as needed.
  • You may use the data collected from the exit tickets to determine whether or not students need additional support around this particular grammatical concept. Supplemental language mini lessons are included in the supporting materials of this lesson.


HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
  • Read Chapter 17, pgs. 265-274 of A Mighty Long Way and complete the structured notes.
  • Provide struggling learners with the supported structured notes for additional scaffolding as they read the memoir.

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