Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Roll With The Punches: Crossroads to Where?

Martha Simmons


Students visualize and create a map to outline scenes from the novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. The student understands the importance of organizing information when making maps and giving directions.


The student uses various map forms (including thematic maps) and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report geographic information including patterns of land use, connections between places, and patterns and processes of migration and diffusion.

The student uses mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments.


-Copies of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. Puffin Books: New York, 1976. one per student
-18 x 12 white construction paper
-Pencils with erasers
-Crayons or colored pencils
-Overhead projector
-Pens for the overhead
-Overhead of teacher generated map


1. Obtain a classroom set of the novel. Each student needs a copy.
2. Gather supplies listed in Materials.
3. Make copies of the descriptive passage of trip to grandmotherís house.
4. Make copies of the page numbers for passages from the novel.
6. Make copies of the rubric for each student.


Day One:

1. Prior to this activity, students have completed the novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. The students have previously engaged in mapping exercises including maps of the school, maps to their home, and mapping from the teacher-made written description. Introduce activity by saying: You have completed the novel in language arts. Now we are going to map the commutiy described in the book. The purpose of drawing this map is for students to realize the importance of giving specific directions and being able to follow them. Review terminology: north, south, east, west, compass rose, and crossroads. Explain the importance of using directions and sighting landmarks when going from one place to another.

2. Direct studentsí thinking to determine the route they take while travelling to and from school. Discuss specific directions they take, any right or left turns, and what specific landmarks they pass while riding to school.

3. For practice, pass out a descriptive passage of a trip to grandmotherís house. (See attached file.) Choose a student to read the passage orally. Discuss any specific directions and landmarks stated in the passage. Have students underline important parts of the passage that pertain to directions to grandmotherís house.

4. Give each student white construction paper. Students create a map from the passage. This allows students to visualize and create a map for practice.

5. Observe students while they work. This enables the student and teacher to discuss any changes that may be needed. The teacher may need to direct the student back to the passage and compare it to his/her work.

6. Before the end of class, share the teacher-generated map on the overhead projector. The teacher rereads the passage pointing out the directions on the map. This allows students ability to observe mistakes and make corrections.

7. Students use colored pencils or crayons to color their maps. Markers tend to be messy and may bleed through the paper.

Day Two:

1. Each student needs the novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Pass out or write on the board pages to passages needed to complete this activity. Read the passages to the students, discussing the direction terminology and landmarks used in the book. The page numbers to be used for the passages are 6, 8-10, 12, 15-17, 83, 89, 93, 102, 104-106, 135, 137-138, 261, and 263.

2. Pass out the rubric. (See the attached file.) Read over the rubric with students so they can determine what is needed on the map. Some of the passages are difficult, so they may need to be reread. The rubric is used as a checklist for items needed on the map. Have students check off items as they are drawn, finishing one passage at a time.

3. Students now draw and create their maps, referring back to the passages and rubric. Circulate among the students to make certain they understand the passages read and to answer individual questions. Ask the students questions to help them determine what is needed. Rather than giving a direct answer, guide students to find the answer themselves. The student should be able to decipher passages, visualize the passage, and create a map. The end product is a map of the checklist items on the rubric. Students understand that neatness is important when creating maps, and that coloring makes it interesting. Students color the map with colored pencils or crayons.


The map created using passages from the novel is the final product. It is turned in with the rubric. The rubric has a space for student assessment and teacher assessment. The teacher counts up the points from the rubric based on geographical accuracy. A list of items is required which is worth a total of 40 points. Each section is assigned a point value. Students will gain or lose points based on geographical accuracy.


1) Read passages to students.
2) Read and review rubric.
3) Highlight the parts of the passage that match the rubric. 4) Provide extra assignment time.
5) Use peer tutoring.
6) Quietly repeat directions or reread a passage.
7) Student repeats passage in their own words.
8) Teacher may need to illustrate the beginning of map to get some students started.
9 )Tape a recording for auditory learners.
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