Standards Correlations

R.2, R.3, R.4, R.6, R.7, W.2, SL.1, L.4, L.6 

Learning Objective

Students will read an article about the Black Lives Matter movement and then summarize the text.

Key Skills

summarizing, text features, vocabulary, interpreting text, cause and effect, author’s purpose, critical thinking, informational writing

Complexity Factors

Purpose: The text discusses the protests sparked by George Floyd’s death and the issue of racism in the police force.

Structure: The text begins and ends by describing a protest led by teen activists. It contains problem-and-solution structures.

Language: The text conveys complex ideas in simple language. Domain-specific terms are defined in the text and the vocabulary box. 

Knowledge Demands: Some knowledge of the history of racism in America will aid comprehension.


Lexile Level: 700L-800L

Guided Reading Level: S

DRA Level: 40

Lesson Plan: Uniting for Black Lives

Essential Questions

  • Why aren’t all groups of people treated the same?
  • What can we do to help when something is unfair?

Literature Connection

Nonfiction: Stamped by Jason Reynolds/Ibram X. Kendi
Novel: Light It Up by Kekla Magoon

1. Preparing to Read 

Preview Teacher Resources (15 minutes)

You’ll notice that, in this article, the word Black (describing a group of people) is capitalized and the word white is not. Click here for an explanation of Scholastic’s stance on capitalization. You’ll also find our “Teaching Strategies” handout, which will help you prepare to answer students’ questions and facilitate meaningful class discussions. 

Build Background Knowledge  (10 minutes) 

Preview Text Features (5 minutes)

Have students open their magazines to page 4. Preview the text features by asking these questions:

  • Read the title and the subtitle. What do you think you’ll learn from the article? You’ll learn why and how people protested and how some teens led the way.
  • Read the image caption at the top of page 6. What crime was George Floyd accused of? Why do you think the author included this information? Floyd was accused of using a fake $20 bill. The author probably included this fact because it’s a relatively small crime; the information highlights how unnecessary Floyd’s death was.

Preview Vocabulary (10 minutes)

  • Direct students to the vocabulary box on page 4 and go over the words (protest, racism, outraged, movement, access) and their definitions together. Point out that protest can be both a noun and a verb.
  • Play the Vocabulary Slideshow

Make a Plan for Reading  (5 minutes)

Before students start to read, walk them through a reading plan:

  • Set a purpose for reading: Tell students that the article will teach them about the history and purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement. 
  • Point out the Pause and Think boxes  starting on page 5. Tell students the questions will help them check their understanding as they read.
  • Point out the activity on page 7 and tell students they’ll complete it after reading the article. Guide them to briefly scan the questions in the activity and to keep them in mind as they read.

2. Reading and Unpacking the Text

Guide students to read the article. Once they understand the text, discuss the following questions. 

Close-Reading Questions (15 minutes)

  • The article says that the protesters in Nashville chanted, “No justice, no peace!” What do you think this means? (interpreting text) Answers may vary. Sample answer: The phrase means that until justice (fairness and equality) is the norm, peace won’t be possible.
  • Why did the protesters in Nashville lie down for eight minutes? (cause and effect) The protesters lay down for eight minutes because that’s roughly how long George Floyd had a police officer kneeling on his neck. The act was a tribute to Floyd and also a way to understand how long eight minutes really is.
  • Why do you think the author mentions the fact that a rainbow appeared toward the end of the protests in Nashville? (author’s purpose) A rainbow (something beautiful) after it rains can be a symbol of hope. It can also represent a community made up of people of many races and backgrounds. The author probably included this detail to help show that the protesters felt hopeful about unity and change. 

Critical-Thinking Questions (10 minutes)

  • What is the job of the police? Do you think the police in your community do their job in the way they should? (critical thinking) Answers will vary. Students will likely say that the job of the police is to keep communities safe by preventing and solving crimes. Some students might say that their local police make them feel safer; others might say that they see the police as ineffectual or even threatening.
  • The article says that many officers now wear body cameras to record arrests. How might body cameras be helpful? (critical thinking) Body cameras can create a record so that people in charge have the facts if someone claims an arrest was carried out improperly. They can also help police officers think twice about their actions; if officers know an event is being recorded, they might be more thoughtful about how they approach people.

3. Skill Building

  • Guide students to complete the activity on page 7. You might also consider showing the video Skills in Action: What Is a Summary?” first.
  • Use our Writing a Summary Skill Builder, available in a higher and lower level version. (Click here to see all your Skill Builders.)
  • Writing prompt: Imagine that you’re a reporter writing an article about the Nashville protest, and you have the chance to interview one of the teens who organized it. Write down five questions you’d like to ask. (For instance, you could ask about the work that went into planning the protest or why the teen felt it was important to be involved.) 

Learn-Anywhere Activity

An enrichment activity to extend the learning journey at home or in the classroom

Make an Inspiring Poster

Emma Rose Smith, one of the protesters in Nashville, said, “Let’s make a place that’s equal and just for our children.” What would that place be like? (Hint: In Smith’s quote, the word just means fair.) 

  • Imagine a place where everyone is treated equally and fairly. Then create your own piece of art to express this idea.
  • On a sheet of posterboard or construction paper, write “A Place That’s Just and Fair.” Then use words and pictures to show what that place would be like. If you need ideas, think about things that are unfair in our world now and how they could be changed. Reread the article for some examples.

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