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12/8/2017 Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” – Lesson Plan | Lesson Plan | PBS NewsHour Extra

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February 20, 2013


A copy of ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison for

Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” – Lesson each student to read

Plan Internet access in the classroom for student


research. Alternatively, you can suggest
By American these links to students for research at home
Masters or at a library.

Ralph Ellison: Career Timeline


Subject(s)
Language Arts Ralph Ellison Filmmater Interview: Avon
Kirkland
Estimated
Ralph Ellison: An American Journey
Time
Two weeks to
read the text Send Us Your Feedback
and two 45-
minute class
periods.

Grade
Level Standards
11th-12th Relevant National Standards:
McRel Education Standards Addressed
Objective
United States History:
Students will:
Understands the struggle for racial and
Read and gender equality and the extension of civil
discuss the novel “Invisible Man” liberties

Write an essay on the theme of the personal experience of invisibility. Understands individual and institutional
Examine their own communities to bring to light groups that might be considered “invisible”. influences on the Civil Rights Movement

Connect personal experience to an understanding of larger societal structures. Language Arts:

Introduction Gathers and uses information for research


In Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison wrote about the experience of being ignored, bringing to light a powerful meditation on purposes
race and social structure. This novel was included in the 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century, in the top 20. Being an
Uses reading skills and strategies to
outsider, being outcast, being ignored – all are feelings most people can relate to. Ellison related this personal
understand and interpret a variety of literary
experience to a greater societal structure, using characters and imagery to do so. In this lesson plan, students will use
texts
similar tools to explore the theme of invisibility in the book, in their own lives, and in their communities.

Note that the novel contains some challenging subject matter, as well as scenes that some may find offensive. Review
the book yourself before embarking on the lesson plan so you can prepare appropriately.
Related Stories
Procedure
Lesson plan: How new
1. Read & discuss
inventions help people with
Provide students with a copy of Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison. Have students read the book in several
injuries and disabilities
sections, and conduct classroom discussion after each section. Students could also be asked to keep a learning
journal for the duration of the book & subsequent lesson.Start the first discussion with the following quote from For decades, technology has helped to improve
the novel: the lives of people with disabilities and
injuries. In…
BIOTECH BIOTECHNOLOGY COMPUTER
“I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor
DESIGN THINKING DISABILITIES DISEASE ELA
am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, flesh and bone, ENGINEERING ENGLISH & LANGUAGE ARTS

fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, INNOVATION INVENTION MEDICINE SCIENCE
SRL STEM STUDENT JOURNALISM
simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus
STUDENT REPORTING LABS TECHNOLOGY
sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. YOUTH MEDIA

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/lessons-plans/ralph-ellisons-invisible-man/ 1/4
12/8/2017 Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” – Lesson Plan | Lesson Plan | PBS NewsHour Extra
When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their Lesson plan: Build empathy wi
disabilities
imagination — indeed, everything and anything except me.” (Ralph Ellison)

As you go through the novel, discuss each major character and how he or she interacts with the protagonist. Are you an empathetic person? Use these
How does the character see or not see the protagonist? How does the protagonist see himself in these stories about individuals with disabilities, all
situations? How does his “invisibility” affect this character? What are some of the strategies he uses to deal with conceived of,…
it? CIVICS CIVICS & GOVERNMENT DISABILITIES
DISABILITY EMPATHY ENGLISH
Upon completion of the novel, return to the quote about invisibility. Hold a discussion in which the students sum ENGLISH & LANGUAGE ARTS ETHICS LIMITLESS
up the ways in which the main character is seen and not seen. They can refer to their learning journals to refresh SOCIAL STUDIES SPECIAL EDUCATION SRL
their memories. STUDENT REPORTING LABS

2. Essay project
Should seat belts be
Assign students to write an essay on the following topic. When and how in your life have you felt invisible?
mandatory on school buses?
Encourage them to explore why they felt that way, and what strategies they used to handle the situation. (See
Student Organizer 1)This could be a homework assignment, but it would be a good in-class writing exercise as
well. Writing in-class for 30-45 minutes may help students bring up fresh ideas on the subject. Essays should be School districts around the country are debating
evaluated by the teacher, and possibly sent back to the student for revision, but they should not be shared with whether or not to require seat belts on school
the class. Make sure students know the essays will be private up front, so they feel comfortable working in buses. Requiring seat belts comes at a high cost
autobiographical space. for school districts already struggling with tight
budgets. Continue reading →
3. Group project
BUS DEBATE ENGLISH
The final component of this lesson is a group project where students identify a group of people in their own
ENGLISH & LANGUAGE ARTS
community that might be seen as “invisible”. Start by leading a discussion on how, in Ralph Ellison’s novel, the
MAKING THE GRADE SCHOOL BUS
personal experiences of a fictional character ripple outward, describing greater social conditions in a very
SCHOOL BUSES SCHOOL SAFETY SEAT BELT
vivid way. The students can discuss their own essays, sharing examples of how a personal feeling of invisibility
SOCIAL STUDIES
can be part of a larger social structure.Next, have them break up into groups of 3-4 students. Each group will
select a group that they see as socially “invisible”. Circulate among the groups to help them make an appropriate
Lesson plan: What’s your
selection. Some examples might be: people who work at night, homeless people, stay-at-home mothers,
children, the elderly, or a particular ethnic group that lives in the community.Once the topic is selected, the project “Brief but Spectacular” take?

group will create a multimedia essay “revealing the invisible.” This might be done as a posterboard project,
incorporating photos, magazine cut-outs, short essays, poetry, quotes, and drawings. If you have the Every Thursday night, the PBS NewsHour
facilities, this would be a great Web project, with each group creating their own “Revealing the Invisible” Web profiles people and their passions in the series
page. See Student Organizer 2 for more information on the assignment. Brief but Spectacular. Creator Steve Goldbloom
and his producing partner Zach Land-Miller
Assessment wanted to find a new way to share original
Students will be assessed on the quality of their participation in class discussions and in the group activity, and as well voices the public might otherwise not see. Now
as on the quality of the essay and the final group project. Students can also assess one another for the group activity. you can join the fun… Continue reading →
Points should be given for understanding of the more abstract aspects of this lesson, i.e. invisibility as an element of BRIEF BUT SPECTACULAR ELA ENGLISH

societal structure. ENGLISH & LANGUAGE ARTS


ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS FILM IDENTITY

Extension Activities SOCIAL STUDIES VIDEO

Connect this lesson plan to other American Masters lessons to develop the theme of “what makes an
Pokémon and privacy issues
American Master.”
your students should know –
This could be part of a larger study of African-American literature. Lesson plan
Students could write and perform a play on the subject of invisibility in their own community.
In just a week, Pokémon Go has become a
This topic could be the foundation for a literary project, such as a themed collection of poetry and short cultural sensation. As Pokémon users increase,
fiction. is there a way for teachers to use the game in

This lesson could be extended to include taking action to address and assist one of the groups brought to the classroom? Are there privacy issues that

light by the class. You could bring in community leaders to talk about the social actions being taken on teachers and students should be aware of?
Continue reading →
behalf of that group, and to help students formulate an action plan of their own.
ENGLISH ENGLISH & LANGUAGE ARTS
GAMIFICATION GAMING POKEMON
Tags: ARTS & CULTURE ENGLISH & LANGUAGE ARTS
POKÉMON GO PRIVACY SOCIAL MEDIA
SOCIAL STUDIES

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http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/lessons-plans/ralph-ellisons-invisible-man/ 2/4