Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself
Lesson plans and teaching resources


| Biography and Background | | Teaching the Narrative |

Biography and Background

Biography: Frederick Douglass
A brief written biography and a 3:27 video clip.

Frederick Douglass
Links to more historical information, other writing by Douglass.

Frederick Douglass: Activist and Autobiographer
Resources and teaching suggestions from the US Library of Congress.

Songs of Slavery
Students read and analyze 4 songs, write a protest song of their own, and discuss "the significance of music and coded language in the slave community."

Teaching the Narrative

Close Reading: Frederick Douglass
The goal of this two- to three-day exemplar is to give students the opportunity to explore the point of view of a man who survived slavery. By reading and rereading the passage closely, combined with classroom discussion about it, students will explore the various beliefs and points of view Douglass experienced as he became increasingly aware of the unfairness of his life. Students will need to consider the emotional context of words and how diction (word choice) affects an author’s message. When combined with writing about the passage and teacher feedback, students will form a deeper understanding of how slavery affected those involved. Materials include text from the Narrative for close reading, lesson plan with guiding questions, writing task, research/presentation options, contemporary reviews of the Narrative with opposing viewpoints, 3 poems by Emily Dickinson, and vocabulary support. Designed for grade 8; word processor required for access.

Escape from Slavery, 1838
Excerpts from Douglass's writing illustrated with period photographs.

From Courage to Freedom: Frederick Douglass's 1845 Autobiography
Three lessons based on Douglass' first autobiography. Students analyze Douglass's vivid first-hand accounts of the lives of slaves and the behavior of slave owners to see how he successfully contrasts reality with romanticism and powerfully uses imagery, irony, connotative and denotative language, strong active verbs, repetition, and rhetorical appeals to persuade the reader of slavery's evil. Students will also identify and discuss Douglass's acts of physical and intellectual courage on his journey towards freedom.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself
Downloadable text in multiple formats, including EPUB, Kindle, and plain text.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave
Summary and some discussion questions.

Teacher's Guide to Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself
Overview, study questions, and learning activities from Penguin Putnam. Requires Adobe Reader or compatible application for access.

Vocabulary from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
A list of 234 words drawn from the autobiography, presented with definitions in the sentence in which they were used.



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