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Rigorous Resources

Passing by Nella Larsen | Complete Teaching Unit

Passing by Nella Larsen | Complete Teaching Unit

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This complete unit has everything you need to deliver profoundly engaging lessons on Nella Larsen's Passing!! The discussion questions, reading quizzes, literary device exercises, and analytical writing assignment will inspire your students to dig beneath the surface of the text and generate profound interpretive insights!

Here are some highlights from the 150-page editable curriculum:

 • Discussion Question Handouts: Twenty pages of deeply thought-provoking discussion questions! One 2-page handout containing 8-10 questions for each of 6 sections of the novel. The discussion questions are the beating heart of these lesson plans. Every discussion question is grounded in concrete textual details and challenges students to arrive at lucid interpretive insights! The questions could be used to focus students’ thinking prior to beginning a discussion, to foster in-class writing such as stop-and-jots, or to assign written reflections for homework. Guaranteed to elicit student engagement and foster profound discussions! (18 pages)

 Discussion Question Answer Keys: The answer keys to the discussion questions are informed by the best academic articles written by scholars who specialize in African-American women writers of the Harlem Renaissance: Deborah McDowell, Cheryl Wall, Bell Hooks, Judith Butler, and others. Of course, there is rarely a single "correct" answer for any question; rather, the discussions questions are made up of higher-order questions designed to foster lively exchanges and interpretive debates among students. They challenge students to build interpretive arguments that require the support of carefully selected textual evidence. (50 pages)

 Quick Writes: A "quick write" can be used at any time in a class to get students to pause and reflect on the text in writing. Introduce a quick write before you begin a discussion to allow students to collect their thoughts. Or roll one out toward the end of a discussion to let students capture and refine their best ideas. (6 pages)

 Vocabulary Lists: Lists of 10 vocabulary words for each of the novel's 6 sections , complete with definitions and sample sentences with the words as used in Passing. A total of 60 SAT-worthy words. (6 pages)

• Reading & Vocabulary Quizzes: Daily quizzes with 10 questions on the nightly reading homework plus another 10 questions on the vocabulary words. If you choose not to have your students study vocabulary, you can still use the portion of the quiz devoted to reading comprehension. Grading these quizzes is simple and quick. They’re an easy way to log 6 to 12 grades into your gradebook. Answer keys included. (24 pages)

 Figurative Language Worksheets (x3): Three worksheets challenge students to identify the type of figurative used in fifty quotations from Passing. The types of figurative language include metaphor, simile, personification, hyperbole, paradox, and oxymoron. This bundle also features a glossary with definitions as well as examples of how each type of figurative language is used in Passing — so you can review them with students before they tackle the worksheets. Each worksheet can be used either as a quiz or as a fun refresher. Answer keys included. (12 pages)

 Quotation Race: Students work in pairs to identify the speakers of 50 key quotations from Passing. Introduce this fun activity when you need to mix things up, or to refresh students' memories in preparation for the AP exam. Answer key included. (6 pages)

 Q3 Practice Essay: Designed for teachers of AP Literature, this in-class practice essay will allow students to rehearse the "Q3" essay from the AP Literature and Composition Exam. The assignment asks students to write a 40-minute in-class essay in response to one amongst three recent Q3 prompts that featured Passing as one of the recommended works of literary merit. (5 pages)

 Analytical Writing Assignment: Challenge students to take their interpretations one step further by writing an analytical paper on Larsen's Passing. Let students choose from one of 5 thought-provoking sample topics — or invite them to develop a similar topic of their own. Rubric included. (4 pages)


This entire unit will come to you in two separate formats: Word docs and PDFs. Because the Word docs are fully editable, you'll be able to customize the materials to suit your teaching style and/or your students' skill levels — year after year! If you don't have Microsoft Word, you'll still be able to access the entire unit in PDF format — which is easy to navigate and quick to print!

In case you'd prefer to purchase this product via the TPT website, here is a link that will take you to the product page on TPT.

I'm eager to do everything I can to ensure that you have an amazing experience with teaching Nella Larsen's Passing. If you have any questions along the way, please don't hesitate to get in touch via the email address below. I'm always excited to hear from fellow teachers who share a passion for great literature!

Happy teaching,

Adam Jernigan


P.S. The current school year is an especially good time to teach this novel because a cinematic adaptation of Passing was just released on Netflix in 2022. The film is directed by Rebecca Hall and features talented actors like Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. If you're considering teaching this thematically powerful and aesthetically beautiful novel, my enthusiastic advice is to do it!

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