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Grade: Middle

#1968. The Friends by Rosa Guy

Reading/Writing, level: Middle
Posted Tue Sep 26 16:32:53 PDT 2000 by Sarah Schutte (
Cloverdale Middle Level Academy, Little Rock, AR
Materials Required: class set of The Friends
Activity Time: Two weeks of plans
Concepts Taught: Literature analysis

by Rosa Guy

DAY ONE -- Introduction
1. Phase I Writing -- J1
Have you ever been new to a town or school and felt left out or uncomfortable? If not, have you ever seen a new kid and decided to be friends or not? Tell me about this time.
Have you ever had a best friend? Are there some things about your friend which you dislike? What do you do about those things? Are there some things about your friend which your parents dislike? What do they do about those things?
(15 mins.)
2. Oral reading (25 mins.) pp. 3-16.
3. Phase II Writing -- J2 (10 mins.)
4. Oral reading (15 mins.) pp. 17-31
5. Phase II Writing -- J3 (10 mins.)

1. Review reading and writing from yesterday. (10 mins.)
2. Reading (15 mins.) pp. 32-49
3. Phase III Writing -- J4
Why did Edith stand up for Phyllisia? What are some of Edith's personality traits? Exactly how does Phyllisia feel about Edith? Why? (15 mins.)
4. Sharing (10 mins.)
5. Reading (15 mins.) pp.50-63
6. Phase III Writing -- J5
What kind of parent is Calvin? Ramona? How do you know? Would you like them as your parents? Why/why not? Do you think you would be like Phyllisia or Ruby? Why? (15 mins.)
7. Sharing (10 mins.)
8. Plot graph of part one -- J6 ( I had already done a mini-lesson on graphing plots.)

1. Mini-lesson review -- J7: "Showing" writing vs. "telling" writing. (15 mins.)
The alien went to the planet.
2. Share sentences. (10 mins.)
3. Mini-lesson review: Point of view and Setting (15 mins.)
4. Group discussion (10 mins.)
5. Journal response -- J8
The Friends is told from Phyllisia's point of view. Choose a scene and show me how it would be different if told from another character's point of view. Some scenes to think about are: the classroom when Miss Lass "loses it"; the fight scene between Beulah and Phyllisia; the shoplifting scene; the riot and its aftermath; the scene in Edith's apartment; etc. (20 mins.)
6. Sharing (20 mins.)

1. Review reading. (15 mins.)
2. Reading (20 mins.) pp. 64-82
3. Phase II Writing -- J9 (10 mins.)
4. Reading (20 mins.) pp. 83-97
5. Phase III Writing -- J10
Look at this scene from Calvin's point of view. How does he feel? How do you know? Look at this scene from Ramona's point of view. How does she feel? How do you know? (20 mins.)
6. Sharing (10 mins.)

1. Review reading from yesterday. (10 mins.)
2. Reading (20 mins.) pp. 98-120
3. Mini-lesson review: Characterization (discuss Phyllisia)
4. Show-me writing -- J11 (20 mins.)
The girl searched for meaning.
5. Introduce Bio-poem and do one with the class using the class as the subject of the poem. (25 mins.)
Example: Ms. Schutte's 4-5th Period
Loud, aggressive, dichotomous, wary.
Students of the eighth grade.
Lovers of banging on desks, eating candy, and watching the clock.
Who feel put upon when asked to do work, confused when they don't
hear the directions, and angry when told to behave.
Who need organization, self-control when in the classroom, and security.
Who fear being misunderstood, being caught when talking, and being
picked on by others.
Who give candid answers when being serious, good work when concentrating,
and back talk when disciplined.
Who would like to see Ms. Schutte leave the school, a free period every day,
and A's for everyone.
Residents of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Reading/Writing Workshop.
6. Assign a personal bio-poem about themselves or someone they know -- J12. (30 mins.)

1. Review reading from yesterday. (10 mins.)
2. Reading (20 mins.) pp. 121-140
3. Discuss. (15 mins.)
4. Share bio-poems from yesterday. (10 mins.)
5 . List characters of novel on the board. Assign a bio-poem about one of the characters from the novel -- J13. (45 mins.)
6. Share bio-poems (10 mins.)
1. Review reading from yesterday. (10 mins.)
2. Reading (20 mins.) pp. 141-156
3. Discuss (5 mins.)
4. Mini-lesson review: Simile (5 mins.)
5. Introduce simile poem and do one with the class using two teachers as the subject of the poem. (20 mins.)
Example: Ms. Nelson is like spring,
Fresh and full of great ideas waiting to be filled.
Ms. Schutte is like winter,
Cold and boring inside.
Ms. Nelson is like a clear day,
Open and friendly.
Ms. Schutte is like a thunderstorm,
Dark and loud.
Ms. Nelson is like denim,
Comfortable to be around.
Ms. Schutte is like wool,
Scratchy and harsh.
6. Assign a simile poem with the student and someone else as the subjects -- J14. (10 mins.)
7. Assign a simile poem with one of the following pairs from the novel -- J15. (10 mins.):
Calvin and Ramona
Phyllisia and Ruby
Phyllisia and Edith
Phyllisia and Calvin
Edith and Marian

1. Review reading from yesterday. (10 mins.)
2. Reading (20 mins.) pp. 157-168
3. Phase III Writing -- J16
Why is Phyllisia refusing to go to school and instead going to the park? What would you do if you were she? Why? (15 mins.)
4. Sharing (10 mins.)
5. Reading (20 mins.) pp. 169-185
6. Phase III Writing -- J17
What does Phyllisia mean when she says, "I 'm much older today than I was yesterday." (p. 184) (10 mins.)
7. Phase III Writing -- J18
Did you like the ending of this book? Why/why not? What questions were left unanswered? What might you have done differently if you were the author? (10 mins.)
1. Mini-lesson: Theme -- J19
What was the main problem in this novel? (Brainstorm with class.) What is this novel saying specifically about communication between Phyllisia and the other characters? What do you think the author is trying to get you to see? Write a paragraph on the theme of this novel. (40 mins.)
2. Mini-lesson review: Generative Paragraph (10 mins.)
3. (on the overhead) Influential people in Phyllisia's life -- (Ramona, Calvin, Edith) (10 mins.)
Example: In Phyllisia's life, there were three most influential people. First, (name
of person) ______________________________________________. Second,
(name of person) _____________________________________. Third, (name
of person) ________________________________________. Each one
influenced Phyllisia's growing up in different ways.
4. Develop three more paragraphs from this one, each paragraph being a generative paragraph, on the overhead. (30 mins.)

1. Review generative paragraph and paper.
2. Brainstorm important people and events in each student's life -- positive and negative.
3. Have each choose three important people or events.
4. Assign generative paper based on model developed yesterday.

Revise and edit and rewrite paper.


1. The students really liked this novel.
2. The poetry writing was fun and produced great results.
3. The generative paper worked quite well for the first "long" paper of the year.

1. I didn't do this book as a reader's theater and I think it would be better that way. (I have marked the books for future classes if you want to do a reader's theater.)
2. I didn't do any S.O.A.P. prompts.
3. I wanted to do a plot graph for each part, and then a huge one for the whole novel, but I didn't get to it.
4. The Day Three session on point of view might be better done as a role-playing session. Then, the students could write in their journals about what they discovered while role playing.
5. I would have liked to spend some time on what Phyllisia is going through after her mom dies and she is unable to eat and to discuss Calvin's response to that.