Developing Critical Consciousness through Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give
- Preview |
- Standards |
- Resources & Preparation |
- Instructional Plan |
- Related Resources |
As part of their study of Angela Thomas’ novel The Hate U Give, students build background knowledge of the Black Lives Matter movement by listening to radio interviews and examining the network's official website. They then take an interest and knowledge survey to help select the topic for a short directed research project designed to establish context and depth around several aspects of the novel: double consciousness/codeswitching, the Black Panther movement, Tupac Shakur as activist, media portrayal of police violence, and the complexity of gang culture. Students share their learning at key moments during reading and discussion of the novel, followed by work with excerpts from James Baldwin’s essay “Letter from a Region in My Mind” and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Letter to My Son.”
Though this lesson focuses on The Hate U Give, a similar approach may be taken with titles such as All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely or How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, with the specific social issues students research modified accordingly.
- Knowledge and Interest Survey: Students use this survey to become familiar with the background topics for research and to indicate their preference for group work.
- Research Topics and Sources Page: This categorized list of links to articles, videos, and other resources provides students with sources for their inquiry into the background research topics.
- Cross-Text Analysis Handout: Students use this handout to begin thinking about how The Hate U Give, the Baldwin essay, and the Coates essay relate to each other thematically.
From Theory to Practice
In Teaching Reading with YA Literature: Complex Texts, Complex Lives, Jennifer Buehler offers a three-part conceptual framework for “an approach to teaching YA lit that promotes love of reading, improving skills in reading, and connecting reading to real-world contexts” (9). She identifies as the crucial elements, first, “social interactions [that] create more complex readings of YA literature,” second, books that are chosen “strategically” and “framed…in ways that satisfy the demands…of the latest standards movement,” and last, tasks that develop “the same reading and writing skills they would acquire” reading any other literature, but with a special focus on “connecting their reading to real-world contexts” and supporting them “with tools they can use to continue reading closely, actively, and critically on their own” (9).
This lesson, featuring a high-interest text with an engaging narrator and storyline interwoven with contemporary headlines, allows students to work together to generate deeper background knowledge necessary to set the novel in its complex contemporary context and combines careful reading of multiple, varied nonfiction texts with the centerpiece text of YA.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
- 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
Materials and Technology
- Copies of The Hate U Give
- Internet connected computers for Sessions One through Three and Five through Seven.
- Four sheets of butcher/chart paper (oriented long top to bottom) for the final session, with the words “a conscious,” “citizen,” “of this terrible,” “and beautiful world” written across one each
- Prior Knowledge about the Black Lives Matter Movement Handout
- Knowledge and Interest Survey
- Research Topics and Sources Page
- Discussion Questions for “Letter from a Region in My Mind” by James Baldwin
- Discussion Questions for “Letter to My Son” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Cross-Text Analysis Handout
- Synthesis Chart
- Reflection Prompts
The official website of the Black Lives Matter network, the page offers information and resources “rooted in the experiences of Black people in this country who actively resist our dehumanization” and seek to respond “to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society.”
Baldwin's essay is the focus of close reading and discussion in Session Five. Provide print or online access to students through this link to The New Yorker.
Coates' essay is the focus of close reading and discussion in Sessions Six and Seven. Provide print or online access to students through this link to The New Yorker.
- Become familiar with the novel and all supplemental topics/readings. Be aware of your school and community standards for content and language when making the choice to teach the novel.
- Determine an approach and specific teaching objectives for the reading and discussion of the novel. This lesson addresses building and integrating prior knowledge and extending the novel with secondary pieces, but dicussion and instruction on characterization, pacing/plot development, conflict, and theme will enhance students' appreciation of the text.
- Establish or review ground rules for respectful discussion of political dialogue in class. Emphasize that the goal of the work in this lesson is to increase understanding and that hateful or derogatory speech of any sort is not acceptable. Remind students that a piece of art does not owe readers consideration of every perspective; its responsibility is to present its perspective. Readers, however, can and should bring multiple perspectives to interpreting the work as long as their perspectives are grounded in facts and are presented respectfully.
- Provide necessary background knowledge and support for students in the areas of research and presentation as this lesson assumes students are already familiar with basic research tasks such as notetaking, finding topics or themes across sources, and preparing a simple presentation of learning using a digital platform such as PowerPoint, Prezi, or Google Slides. Consult ReadWriteThink lessons such as Research Building Blocks: Notes, Quotes, and Fact Fragments, Research Building Blocks: "Organize This!", and Research Building Blocks: "Cite Those Sources!".
- Arrange for access to Internet connected computers for Sessions One through Three. Session One requires the ability to project videos and play sound files. In Sessions Two and Three, students will need to access digital resources as part of their research, and in Sessions Five through Seven they will access the essays online (optional). Alternatively, make copies of the necessary readings before Sessions Five through Seven.
- Test the playability of these media files on classroom equipment: Tupac Inspired Angie Thomas’ New Book, 'Black Lives Matter' Slogan Becomes A Bigger Movement, and Black Lives Matter Founders Describe 'Paradigm Shift' In the Movement
- Form research groups based on student background knowledge and interest between Sessions One and Two.
- Post students’ research projects on an accessible space such a class website, wiki, or learning management system Between Sessions Three and Four.
- identify key goals and beliefs of the Black Lives Matter movement
- build background knowledge on a selected topic using a guided research model
- apply knowledge in formal and informal ways through discussion
- read closely and analyze complex nonfiction related to the novel
- synthesize their understanding of the core and supplemental texts
Session One: Introducing the Novel and Research Topics
- Begin the lesson by explaining to students that Angie Thomas wrote the book The Hate U Give after being moved by the Black Lives Movement and that they will be learning more about it in this session. Project the first minute of the video “Tupac Inspired Angie Thomas’ New Book” to familiarize them with the author and the basic subject of the book.
- Distribute the Prior Knowledge about the Black Lives Matter Movement handout and ask students to write down what they know and understand about the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the prompt on the top half of the page. They might consider what they know about its origins, purposes, and reception in the world.
- After students have time to think and write, direct them to share what they know with a few other students around them. Listen for misconceptions and oversimplifications of understanding and address them through the work of this session.
- Prepare to play the two audioclips: 'Black Lives Matter' Slogan Becomes A Bigger Movement and Black Lives Matter Founders Describe 'Paradigm Shift' In the Movement. Preface the audioclips by saying that students’ job is to listen for new information and perspectives that they will write down on the bottom half of the Prior Knowledge about the Black Lives Matter Movement handout.
- During the second audioclip, consider projecting the page from which the audio plays so students can see the faces of the activists they are hearing.
- After students have time to record their thoughts on the second half of their Prior Knowledge about the Black Lives Matter Movement handout, facilitate a discussion of the social problems and specific events that precipitated the Black Lives Matter movement, its philosophy and goals, and the controversies associated with it. The goal here is not to have an exhaustive discussion of the movement or to debate its ncessity or effectiveness, but rather to come to an understanding of its origin and goals.
- At an appropriate time in the conversation, project the Black Lives Matter About page as well as the organization’s page of Guiding Principles to deepen students’ understanding of the movement and the beliefs associated with it. Alternatively, allow students to explore the page on their own and to share what they learned with the class.
- With a few minutes left in the session, explain that as they read The Hate U Give, they will draw on what they already know and what they just learned about the Black Lives Matter movement, and that other background knowledge will be useful as well.
- Distribute the Knowledge and Interest Survey and explain that students will choose from five topics:
- Double consciousness, codeswitching, and living multiple identities
- The Black Panther Party
- Tupac Shakur as activist
- Media coverage of fatal police shootings
- The complexities of gang culture/leaving a gang
- Students should indicate their level of background knowledge for each, and they should mark the “Star column” for topics that are of special interest to them. Explain to students that the goals here are for every topic to get covered and for students to get to choose what is of interest to them. Ask for their understanding if not everyone gets his or her first choice in topics.
- Collect the Knowledge and Interest Surveys and form groups for research in the next session.
Sessions Two and Three: Research, Notetaking, and Presentation Preparation
- Remind students of the work from the previous session and explain that in these two flexibly divided sessions, they will be meeting with their group to discuss a research plan, doing preliminary research, and thinking about how they will share their learning. The time given to students need not be strictly divided, but suggest to students that they devote roughly one session to reading and organizing information and another to preparing the presentation and sharing the link to/file of the presentation.
- Explain that by the end of Session Three, each group needs to create a digital presentation of their learning using a platform such as PowerPoint, Prezi, or Google Slides and to share the file or link so that other students may access it. Point out that they will not be sharing the presentation formally, but they may want to refer to it when they share during the novel and they want other students to be able to benefit from their learning when they look at the presentation file on their own.
- Explain that the presentation file should include the name of the topic, the group members’ names, key subtopics and information, and a slide of Works Cited/references.
- Post or project the groups and members and direct students to the Research Topics and Sources Page.
- Give students time to read and take notes on their topic; direct students to the ReadWriteThink Notetaker tool to help support the research process.
- After they take notes, students should work together to create the presentation slides and share a link to their presentations, or the file itself, depending on the format students choose to use.
- Before Session Four, make sure all the presentation files are easily accessible to students in a centralized location such as a class wiki, webpage, or learning management system.
Session Four: Reading the Novel and Sharing Background Knowledge
- Begin the session by displaying for students the link or site at which they can find their classmates’ research presentations when they are interested in learning more. Ask each group to give a one- to two-minute overview of what they learned.
- Then, as the class reads and discusses the novel, find appropriate points to encourage students to share their learning. Suggested points include:
- Black Panther Party (Ch 3, the family’s complex political and social alliances to mainstream Christianity, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panthers; Ch 10, Maverick’s assertion that the Panthers educated and empowered; Ch 14, Hailey unfollows Starr’s social media for posts about Black Panthers)
- Double consciousness, code-switching, identity negotiation (Ch 5, Starr talks about changing language use at school; Ch 13, the family discusses what it would mean to move to the suburbs; Ch 17, Starr’s white boyfriend accuses her of hiding parts of her life from him)
- Tupac Shakur and his activism: (Ch 1, Khalil explains how “Tupac was the truth”; Ch 10, the family listens to Tupac and discusses how his work uplifted people of color; Ch 12, Starr watches the video of Tupac explaining the meaning behind T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.)
- Media coverage of fatal shootings by police (Ch 7, Khalil is named by news reporters and labeled a “suspected drug dealer”; Ch 14, Officer 115’s father is interviewed on the news; Ch 20, Hailey repeats what she had heard on the news about Khalil)
- Complexities of gang culture/difficulty of leaving a gang (Ch 8, Starr questions Khalil’s affiliation with the King Lords; Ch 10, Maverick explains when he wanted out of the King Lords and begins helping DeVante; Ch 15, Starr explains what DeVante told her about Khalil’s motivations in selling drugs)
- As students share their background knowledge, encourage others to contribute how what they know shapes and strengthens their understanding of the characters and events in the book.
Session Five: Reading James Baldwin
- Explain to students that for the next few sessions, they will be reading and discussing important texts by African-American authors whose ideas will connect and resonate with The Hate U Give: first, excerpts from James Baldwin’s essay “Letter from a Region in My Mind,” and then parts of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Letter to My Son,” which is itself part of the larger work Between the World and Me.
- Direct students to or distribute print copies of “Letter from a Region in My Mind” as well as copies of the Discussion Questions for “Letter from a Region in My Mind.”
- Go over the background information at the top of the discussion questions.
- For each section, first preview the questions as a class before reading the text aloud, stopping at whatever points students are interested in talking about.
- At the end of each section, stop to discuss the questions, going back to the text as necessary to discuss evidence, particularly evidence across multiple paragraphs or even sections of the essay. Consider varying the pattern for reading and answering among sections, sometimes answering as a full class, sometimes independently first and then in pairs, sometimes in small groups.
- Close the lesson by asking students to talk in small groups and/or write reflectively about the connections they see between Baldwin’s world and ideas from 1962 and the events and characters from The Hate U Give.
Sessions Six and Seven: Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Direct students to or provide copies of “Letter to My Son,” pointing out that the epigraph of the text is by James Baldwin, signaling to readers that Coates is participating in the same conversation as he was, but decades later. Also point out the epistolary nature of the work, with the author addressing his son in the form of a letter.
- Explain that because of the length and complexity of the essay and its ideas, students will be reading and discussing it over two sessions, stopping at and picking up from wherever they get by the end of Session Six.
- Distribute copies of the Discussion Questions for “Letter to My Son,” and as with the previous text, preview the questions to focus students’ attention on key ideas.
- Read each section, stopping at whatever points students are interested in discussing. Stop to discuss the questions, promoting conversation among students and varying the pattern as in Session Five.
- At the end of Session Seven, read the closing question and ask students to think and write independently in preparation for the closing activity in Session Eight. What does it mean to be “a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world”? How might this phase describe what happened to Starr in the book? How might this be a process that each of them is living, as well?
Session Eight: Synthesizing and Reflecting
- Give students time to share informally in small groups or as a class what they thought and wrote about in response to the phrase “a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.”
- Then distribute copies of the Cross-Text Analysis Chart and ask students to form groups in which they find evidence for each of these words or phrases being significant to understanding Starr’s story. In addition, they should make reference to the Baldwin and Coates readings, as well as the research that they and their peers completed earlier in the lesson.
- While students are taking notes on their Cross-Text Analysis Charts, post the prepared butcher paper/chart paper around the room, with one space each for them to share their ideas about being “a conscious” “citizen” “of this terrible” “and beautiful world.”
- Give students time to post their evidence and discussion and then to examine and reflect on the thinking from other groups.
- For homework, distribute a copy of the Synthesis Chart and ask students to review all the texts and consider the most important ideas from each, as well as from their own lives. They should use the spaces in the four corners to share key quotes and ideas from The Hate U Give, the Baldwin essay, the Coates essay, and their own life experiences. Then, in the center square, they should synthesize what it means to be in the process of becoming a “conscious citizen of this terrible, wonderful world.”
- Ask students to continue developing their thinking in the last session into an essay in which they analyze Starr’s character in terms of Coates’ language.
- Invite students to read other books that address violence against African-Americans such as How it Went Down or All-American Boys and compare their approaches and messages.
Student Assessment / Reflections
Assessment and reflection for this lesson is less about feedback on development of specific measurable skills and is instead more centered on what and how students are thinking about the issues in and around the novel. The following ideas support students in thinking across texts and considering how their own lives might be influenced by what they read.
- Provide written feedback on groups’ research projects, suggesting changes or additions to enhance their usefulness to other groups.
- Collect and respond to the groups’ Cross-Text Analysis Charts and provide feedback on the degree to which they interpreted Starr’s character in terms of Coates’ language and using the other source material as well.
- Evaluate students’ Synthesis Charts for the strength of the commentary in the center square and the aptness of the ideas and quotes in the surrounding boxes.
- Invite students to apply more extensively Coates’ phrase to their own personal, moral, and political development. In what ways are they becoming such a citizen? How has study of this books and topic changed them? How might they become more conscious in the future?
- After students complete the lesson, invite them to complete these Reflection Prompts to look back on what they have learned and what they would still like to learn.