Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Roll With the Punches: Oprah's On!

Shirley Baker


After reading the novel [Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry] by Mildred D. Taylor, students participate in an Oprah Winfrey Show to review events in the novel and gain a more in depth understanding of them.


The student extends the expectations of the sixth grade with increasingly complex reading texts and assignments and tasks (for example, main ideas, supporting details, inferences, summarizing, analysis of organization and presentation of ideas).


-Copies of the novel (Taylor, Mildred D. [Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry]. New York; Puffing Books, 1976.)
-Microphone (optional)


1) Arrange the room to simulate a talk show format.

2) Brainstorm a list of questions from the novel that will appear on a final test. The teacher may use these when a lag happens on the show or when students veer off course. (i.e. Why did Mr. Simms feel it was necessary to humiliate Cassie in Strawberry even after she had apologized?, Why did Stacey choose to help T.J. even after everthing he has done to the Logan family?)

3) To create the atmosphere of a talk show, obtain a microphone. It doesn't have to be -live-, but will add to students' excitement.

4) If desired, dress in a similar fashion to Oprah.


1) Create excitement by announcing several days ahead of time that the Oprah Winfrey Show is coming.

2) Decide which characters from the novel will be on the panel for the show. Choose 4 or 5 main and minor characters. (Cassie, T.J. and Kaleb Wallace are always good choices.)

3) The day before the show have students individually brainstorm questions for the selected characters. Direct them to write one question for each level of Bloom's Taxonomy. (If students are not familiar with Bloom's conduct a mini-lesson at this point.) Encourage them to generate questions that are not directly answered in the novel, things they -wondered- about. (i.e. -Stacey, why didn't you just tell your mom that it was really T.J. who had cheated?-)

4) Next have students pair off and share their lists. They should compile the 5 best questions from both lists. Again, they should end up with one question for each level of Bloom's Taxonomy.

5) Select students to -BE- each of the selected characters on the show. Instruct them that they should act, speak and dress as they believe these characters would in -real life.-

6) During the show, the teacher should act as -Oprah- or the moderator. Guide questions, ask follow-up questions when appropriate, emphasize important points, etc.

7) After the show, conduct a debriefing discussion to review. (i.e. What would you say is Cassie's biggest lesson in this novel?; Do you think the community has changed after everything that has happened?)


This is a formative assessment for the purpose of determining whether students are prepared for the upcoming final summative assessment for the novel. The final assessment for the novel in this unit will be a -Bloom's Test.- If your students are not familiar with the levels of Bloom's taxonomy, conduct a mini-lesson introducing the concept to them.

Before the show, read over each group's questions in order to assess the students' level of understanding in the novel. There should be one question for each level of Bloom's taxonomy. If a group's questions seem to concentrate on the lower levels, you may ask them to revise OR ask them to answer another group's higher level question as an on-the-spot formative check for understanding.

If desired, these questions may be incorporated into the final test.


This lesson may be modified and used as an activity with any novel.
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