Last week was PSSA week. Due to new rules regarding who can administer the PSSA, the other MAT interns and I spent the week in the cafeteria, monitoring the students who came late to school. When the PSSA’s were over, I taught a little bit, but honestly, most of my classes met in the afternoon after I had to leave to be back to Pitt on time.
Needless to say, when it came time for the PSSA’s to finally conclude this past Tuesday, I had a hard time getting back into teaching mode. However, I got myself back into the swing of things as I introduced our next novel to the class: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. We first read a short story–also written by Mildred Taylor and featuring the same cast of characters as Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry–called “Song of the Trees”. Both stories are set during the Great Depression in Mississippi, and both stories are about the Logan family, an African American family who owns and works their own land. A lot of my students weren’t sure why the characters in “Song of the Trees” who were white were so unkind and disrespectful to the Logan family–I knew I had to build some prior knowledge for my students.
Today I took them to the lab to explore the Jim Crow laws on PBS.org, an interactive website through which they could explore the specific laws and tensions between African Americans and Caucasians during this time period. Students were amazed that some of these events happened, and that the laws were so unfair towards African Americans. I walked around the lab, challenging my students to look at each state’s laws, specifically Mississippi’s, and how that might affect the novel. We were then able to use this website to talk about the tensions in an objective and constructive way. I believe that now my students will be able to take this knowledge and apply it to the novel, developing a deeper understanding of the events and historical context of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
I’m excited to begin the novel, and I hope that my students will enjoy the book as much as I am so far.