Maya Angelou:
Lesson plans and teaching resources

|Biography and Background| |I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings| |Poetry|

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Study Guide
Summary, themes, characters, criticism, quizzes, more.

Biography and Background

Amazing Grace
An extensive unit for remedial 7th and 8th graders comparing influential adults in the lives of Maya Angelou and James Comer.

Greetings from Maya Angelou
In this lesson high school students explore Angelou's life and writing.

Interview with Maya Angelou
A series of 14 short video clips covering a range of topics.

Maya Angelou
The author's official website.

Maya Angelou
Online literary criticism from the Internet Public Library.

Maya Angelou
Mini biography.

Teaching Maya Angelou With New York Times
Teaching ideas and resources from The Times and elsewhere for appreciating the work of the writer, actress and activist many called the "peopleís poet."

World Book Club
Scroll down to a 2005 BBC interview with Angelou, who discusses Caged Bird.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Students explore the impact of the environment and personal relationships on Angelou's life. Lessons include opportunities for students to develop their own writing as well as reflect upon what Angelou has to say. In addition the students will develop a realistic feel for the different settings of the autobiography through the use of visual arts, the paintings of Jacob Lawrence and a review of American Musical Traditions. This 15-lesson unit is designed for 8th grade and requires Adobe Reader or compatible application for access.

Composing a Life: Autobiography & Maya Angelou
In this unit students will deepen their understanding of the genre of autobiography and experience literature as a record of human experience through reading Maya Angelouís I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Students will also gain a deeper sense of self through writing their own autobiographies. This 8-lesson unit plan is designed for 8th graders and requires Adobe Reader or compatible application for access.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Discussion questions. Follow links to author biography and an excerpt.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Digital Booktalk
This short video could serve as a prereading activity.

Vocabulary from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Words are presented in context and with definitions. Click on a word for pronunciation, examples of recent use, more.

Poetry

"Alone"
Text of the poem.

"And Still I Rise" Proud Black Women: Understanding the poetry of Maya Angelou through the lyrics of two female rappers from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
"By examining the lives and lyrics of popular, positive black female rappers, students can trace a direct line back to writer and poet Maya Angelou." An interdisciplinary unit. Music, lyrics not available at this site.

"The Last Decision"
Summary, commentary, related texts.

"Still I Rise"
Text of the poem.

Maya Angelou
These activities will help students

  • Examine how imagery can be used to represent ideas, themes and periods of history
  • Find cultural relevance and text-to-self connections to the poem, "Still I Rise"
  • Reflect on resiliency in their own lives, school and community
  • Determine the origins of their "voice" and for what they would like to use it
It emphasizes skills of literal and figurative language, close reading, discussion, and writing.

"Still I Rise"
This lesson "informs students on how poetry has its own unique format, language, and poetic devices such as metaphors, similes, and personification and how these poetic conventions can add a tremendous punch to a poet's message."

Study and Response to "Still I Rise"
Students read biographical information on Maya Angelou and her poem, "Still I Rise." Students identify support and elaboration in poem, then respond by either writing a letter to the author or his/her own poem in response. Lesson includes support materials.

Suggestions for Pairing Contemporary Music and Canonical Literature
A list of songs that were inspired by reading literature. Organized by the last name of the author (e.g. Chinua Achebe, William Butler Yeats), the list includes song title, performer, year of release, and more. The list includes 5 titles inspired by "Still I Rise," 1 inspired by Caged Bird, and 1 inspired by "Phenomenal Woman."



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