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        Character Motivation - Sapelo Island Culture

        Students write a poem (using simile and flashback) about the culture of Sapelo Island. They read their poems for an audience.

        Lesson Summary


        Students watch a video about the Gullah/Geechee lifestyle and culture of Sapelo Island. They describe the people who live there and their motivations by writing a poem that includes rich imagery through the use of simile and flashback. They read their poems for an audience.

        Why is this an important concept?

        Learners who can identify and describe a character's motivation in a text are able to understand and respond to literary texts in meaningful ways. Also, when learners write their own stories, they will be able to develop believable plots and characters if they understand what motivates them.

        Grade Level:


        Suggested Time

        (2) 60-minute periods

        Media Resources


        The Lesson

        Part I: Learning Activity

        Day 1

        1. Describe the Gullah/Geechee culture to students. Explain that the Gullah/Geechee people are direct descendants of African slaves, and that they have maintained many of the customs and traditions of their ancestors.

        2. Distribute copies of the Sapelo Character Motivation rubric to provide an overview of the activity and expectations.

        3. Discuss character development and motivation: ask students to share their favorite book or movie characters with a partner. Why do their favorite characters act the way they do in the book or movie? Example: Why did Spiderman decide to fight crime? Answer: His uncle was killed by a robber. Discuss the purpose for this activity: to learn about character motivation by watching a video segment about the Gullah/Geechee community.

        4. Distribute copies of the Sapelo Character Motivation Notes handout. Preview and explain the items on the handout that students will note while watching the video.

        5. Students will watch the segment twice to take notes about the music, the people, and the island. They will use their notes later to write a poem. Before showing the segment the first time, ask students to make notes in the Motivation and Flashback sections of the handout as they watch the video segment.

        6. After first viewing, discuss the segment with students. What questions do they have? Discuss with class.

        7. Before viewing the segment for the second time, ask students to read the prompts on the notes handout again and look for information in the video to respond to the prompts. They should take notes on the Imagery and Captivating Quotes sections of the handout while viewing.

        8. In small groups, allow students to share and revise their notes as needed. Then, go over the note handout prompts as a class.

        9. Distribute copies of the Sapelo Character Motivation Instructions handout. Go over it, and allow students to begin writing their poems. Students should finish writing poems and practice reading them aloud for homework.

        Day 2

        Students read the poems they wrote to an audience.

        For students who need additional teacher guidance:

        1. Provide opportunities for students to view segments additional times.

        2. Limit number of criteria with struggling students. For example, you may omit requirements to use similes and/or flashbacks in the poem.

        3. Practice with and coach students before performing in front of an audience.

        Part II: Assessment

        Students will write a free-verse poem following the criteria in the Sapelo Character Motivation Instructions. They will read it to the class or another audience for which you arrange. You will score their read-aloud on the Character Motivation Rubric as they read to the audience.

        Students should hand in their completed Sapelo Character Motivation Notes and their final poem. You will score the remaining three sections on the Rubric.


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