Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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English Language Arts

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Ishmael Reed

Run Time: 00:10:52

Ishmael Reed discusses his background, influences, and work with students in San Francisco, California. He reads "Railroad Bill, A Conjure Man" and addresses questions about the poem. Reed discusses his modern interpretation of the trickster figure and describes how he mixes contemporary references and popular cultural forms with folklore and history. He explains the non-traditional ballad structure of the poem and shares that many of its elements are based on his research into African religion. Says Reed when asked about his inspiration for the poem, "I didn't read slave narratives until I graduated—didn't know such a thing existed where African Americans who were in bondage talked about their experiences. We were exposed to Jefferson and Lincoln…a Mount Rushmore type of education. Then we began to study our origins and find that there were a lot of great people who were produced by people who resembled us. Railroad Bill is one of these characters."

Author Bio | Q & A | Summary of Featured Work

Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10 By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9–10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.10 By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.


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