Grade 8: Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave, Written by Himself


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Reading Literature

RL.8.1 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RL.8.3 Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

RL.8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.


W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

W.8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Speaking and Listening

SL.8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.


This Grade 8 lesson plan titled “Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave, Written by Himself” cited on is intended to be completed in two to three 50-minute language arts classes.  The lesson gives students the opportunity to explore various points of view as they consider the emotional context of words and how diction (word choice) affects an author’s message.  As a culminating activity, students write an explanatory paragraph using their understanding of the word choice and emotions expressed in the selection to present their opinions.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that the activities as described would be difficult to complete in the time prescribed and still achieve the rigor intended. Some of the CCSS standards listed in the instructional plan are only marginally addressed, if at all.  The plan would be enhanced with more scaffolding to help all students build the skills necessary for independence and deeper comprehension, as well as for the teacher to better evaluate student understanding.  If this lesson plan is used in a history/social studies course, some modifications will be necessary including: the replacement of the ELA CCSS listed above with the English Language Arts Standards in History/Social Studies that are targeted in this lesson along with additional history/social studies content to meet grade-specific content standards.  The lesson plan as written does not include aligned rubrics or assessment guidelines to provide sufficient guidance for interpreting student performance.


The lesson plan is useful primarily because of the text’s rigor and the learning tasks that provide students with opportunities to engage with a complex text. The additional extension activities included in the plan could enhance student understanding and cultivate interest.