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This is the book that hooks my students from the start and keeps them glued to the pages the whole journey. Few first person narrative style novels are as powerful as this story about 15 year old Amari, stolen from her village and sold into slavery in America. Sharon Draper gives an unflinching, historically accurate account of the atrocities young women like Amari faced. The impact is felt by the reader on a deeply personal level and gets them thinking about the nature of the human experience and our capacity for resilience, forgiveness and love.

If you’re looking for a book that is riveting, moving, insightful and historical YA fiction written by a female African American author (because of course you are!), this is THE book!

This unit includes:

  • Daily lessons for each section of the book (20 lessons total)

  • A link to the full text online

  • Daily “Do Now” personal journal prompts tailored to each chapter’s subject

  • “Stop and Jot” close reading technique for each lesson

  • Visuals, videos, photos, articles or artifacts to enhance understanding of each chapter

  • Exit tickets that align with the opening writing activity and content of the day

  • Questions by chapter that prepare students for the final oral and written assignments

  • Instructions for how to use reader’s theater” to make the novel come alive

  • Reader’s theater “cast list” for each chapter, (students read the character dialogue each day)

  • Daily online review quiz-games, with answer keys. (Kahoot) They are graded automatically and can be downloaded to a spreadsheet for your grading records. Easy!

  • Final paper and oral panel-style discussion assignment, both with instructions and rubrics. I’ve revised these over the years, and they make for some compelling student work!



Notebook for each student

Copy of Copper Sun by Sharon Draper for each student (or use the Free online copy)

Sticky-note pad for each student (optional)

Smartboard or laptop (for Kahoot quizzes only)

Time Needed: 

The lessons are designed to fit anywhere from 45-90 min classes. You can tailor this to your needs by using all or part of each lesson. Suggested timing and pacing is listed below under “Daily Pacing and Structure”

Classroom Arrangement

I like to put the students in a round robin format. When students face each other in a round table formation, as in a “table read” of a script for a movie, it encourages the performance aspect of reader’s theater. Alternately, other desk configurations can definitely be used depending on your space.

Handling Graphic Content in the Classroom

I include a page to give you some tips and advice for how to handle the difficult subject matter in this book.


Daily Pacing and Structure of Each Lesson:

Each lesson includes the following elements.

Do now is on board. These are questions related to each day’s reading material and allows students to connect on a personal level while priming them to read and connect to the characters. Greet students as they enter and also verbally ask them the question to generate interest, repeating it thoughtfully a few times. Remind students not to speak their answers out loud, but write them and be prepared to share out after. Time it (usually about 5 min). Give them a one minute warning, then ask a few kids to share out their thoughts. Do this every day to encourage immediate engagement and practice clear classroom structure. 5-10 min

Review Quiz: Review last session’s reading with a fun Kahoot quiz. Kahoot is an online quiz that students can take and see their answers live. Just click the link to the quiz and play it for the students. 10 min

Reader’s Theater: As soon as review time is over, post the roles for the day and assign them to students. In some classes, students will fall over themselves volunteering and in others students will need some prompting. Find what drives them, (attention, stardom, points, extra credit, etc.). Read the book out loud with students reading only the dialogue parts. For a more detailed account of how to do reader’s theater, click here. 2-3 min/page

Reading as Homework: Alternately, the reading can be assigned as homework and you can start class with the do now, Kahoot quiz on last night’s reading, and in-class work time on the activities and argument papers included in this unit. You can also assign some chapters as homework and some as in-class reader’s theater, depending on your preference.

Stop and Jot moments (1-2 min ea.) When a particularly juicy, meaningful or complex part of this text is read, it’s important to take note. When you get to this point: say “Stop and Jot” and post the question or task. Students should write on sticky notes and leave them in the text (if they have their own copy of the book), or in their notebook journals. If this feels disruptive, just “Stop and Post” meaning put a sticky note there and return to it after reader’s theater. Use your best judgment. Stop and Jot provides a nice break, a way to pull students back in who have strayed, and a chance to work together on interesting and complex language. However, reader’s theater can take on a life of its own, so use your best judgment when pausing this live action “show”. 1-2 min ea.

Comprehension Questions: After reading, there are 5-10 comprehension questions which range from factual recall to interpretative to thematic. Each of my units includes all the questions for each day’s reading, see my online store for comprehension questions by chapter for all of my favorite books. 15-20 min

Visual or supplemental material for today’s reading: Each lesson includes supplementary materials, whether they be photos, videos, artifacts or articles to deepen their understanding of the story. In this way, you can explore the many references in the text and engage your visual learners.

Exit ticket question/ activity (30 seconds-2 min); Each day, I have a very short (30 seconds-2 min) activity for the students to complete before they leave that is directly related to that day’s reading, and/or a tie in from the “do now” at the beginning of the lesson. 30 sec-2 min

+Over 30 pages of lessons, activities, handouts, links and final oral and written assessments (with rubrics and instructions).