Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Roll With the Punches: Can't We All Get Along?

Shirley Baker


After participating in a segregation experiment, students reflect and explore their feelings and reactions to the experiment through poetry.


The student drafts and revises writing that -is focused, purposeful, reflects insight into the writing situation;-conveys a sense of completeness and wholeness with adherence to the main idea;-has an organizational pattern that provide for a logical progression of ideas;-has support that is substantial, specific, revelant, concrete, and/or illustrative;-demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject;-has clarity in presentation of ideas;uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the purpose of the paper;demonstrates a command of language (word choice) with freshness of expression;has varied sentence structure and sentences that are complete except when fragments are used and purposefully; andhas few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation.

The student knows how mood or meaning is conveyed in poetry, such as, word choice, dialect, invented words, concrete or abstract terms, sensory or figurative language; use of sentence structure, line length, punctuation, and rhythm.


-Signs to designate areas as -Brown Eyes Only-
-Construction paper
-Markers, crayons, etc.
-Copies of novel [Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry] by Mildred D. Taylor. Puffin Books: New York, 1976.


1) Make -Brown Eyes Only- signs.
2) Inform faculty of the experiment ahead of time. If possible encourage the whole team to participate.
3) Gather materials for illustrated poem. (construction paper, markers, crayons, etc.)
4) Locate an area to display poems.
5) Visit the weblinks and bookmark them.


1) If the class is reading [Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry] by Mildred D. Taylor, the segregation experiment works best after chapter 5.

2) The day before, announce to the student that they will be participating in a segregation experiment. During the experiment, students with brown eyes will be the -privileged- group and students with blue eyes will be the -oppressed- group. (Note: anything other than brown (e.g. hazel, green) will be considered blue eyes.)

3) Outline acceptable behavior during the experiment. (e.g. no touching, rude language, etc.)

4) The morning of the experiment, post -Brown Eyes Only- signs above a preferred water fountain, several restroom stalls, etc.

5) Throughout the experiment, give the brown eyes special privileges. Allow them to sit where they please, run errands, line up first, answer questions, etc.

6) Make note of behavioral observations for the debriefing discussion. Watch for blue eyes trying to pass as brown eyes, passive resistant behavior, superiority complexes, etc.

7) The next day have students write journal entries reflecting on the experience. Possible journal questions include:
-How did you feel during the experiment?
-Did any event during the experiment remind you of an event in the novel?
-Which character in the novel did you relate to during the experiment?

8) Conduct a debriefing discussion using the above questions as a guide. Discuss the observations made and draw analogies to historical events and events in the novel. (e.g. Jane was trying to -pass.- Did you know that some blacks tried to do that? Etc.)

9) Instruct students that they will write an illustrated poem using their feelings, reactions, and observations from the experiment. Conduct an embedded mini-lesson on strong word choice by sharing examples of poetry that have vivid word choice. Discuss how the poet's word choice creates the mood and meaning of the poem. To find poems with strong word choice visit the Best Poetry website listed in the weblinks section.

10) After students understand the concept of word choice introduce the rubric to them.

11) If time is limited, students may be directed to write a haiku or acrostic.


Poems will be scored for strong, appropriate word choice and final draft form. The six-trait writing rubrics developed by the Northwest Regional Educational Lab for word choice and conventions work very well. To purchase copyrighted copies of the rubrics visit

See the attachment for an outline of the rubric.

Web Links

Web supplement for Roll With the Punches: Can't We All Get Along?
Six Trait Writing Assessment

Web supplement for Roll With the Punches: Can't We All Get Along?

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