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Lesson Plan

I've Got the Literacy Blues

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I've Got the Literacy Blues

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Six 45- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Maureen Carroll

Pleasanton, California


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology






  • “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry [O. Henry. (1994). The Best Short Stories of O. Henry. New York: Modern Library.]

  • Materials for mural (e.g., chart paper, paint, crayons, markers, tape)

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1. The Blues, which features brief audio excerpts of various blues artists. Scroll down the page to each of the songs listed below and click on "Listen." Make certain all computers have RealOne Player or other software downloaded for listening to the audio files. If not, follow instructions for downloading at the RealOne Player Download Center.

  • 1. "Lost Your Head Blues" (1926)
    Written and Performed by Bessie Smith

  • 8. "When Will I Get To Be Called A Man" (1957)
    Written and Performed by Big Bill Broonzy

  • 11. "Three O'Clock Blues" (1971)
    Performed by B.B. King
    Written by Riley B. King and Jules Bihari

  • 14. "The Other Woman" (2000)
    Performed by Shemekia Copeland
    Written by John Hahn and Joseph Anthony Hudson

  • 15. "Da Thrill is Gone from Here" (2002)
    Written and Performed by Chris Thomas King

2. Preview the essays What is the Blues? and Understanding the 12-Bar Blues. These essays will give you background information on the topic of the blues that will be helpful as you use this lesson.

3. Obtain copies of the short story "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry. If you cannot locate a print version, the story is also available online.

4. Preview the handouts and rubrics for this lesson to become familiar with the learning expectations. If you are not as familiar with this topic, you may also preview the websites listed on I've Got the Web Research Blues. Bookmark I've Got the Web Research Blues on student computers.

5. Gather supplies for creating a class mural. This may include chart paper, paint, crayons, markers, and tape.

6. Make sure that students are already familiar with interpreting literature and themes prior to completing these lesson activities.


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