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Lesson Plan by Lauren Martin M.Ed.

On Being Brought from Africa to America

This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings African-American poetry to life with comics and storyboards.

Make African-American poetry come to life with comics!

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Featured Layouts

When students complete the activities in this lesson plan, they will use the following comic layout types.

  • Mind Map
  • Timeline
  • Comic Strip
  • Storyboard
  • Poster
  • Graphic Novel

Your students will create amazing images like these in no time!

Pixton Lesson Plan on On Being Brought from Africa to America
This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings African-American poetry to life with comics and storyboards.
Pixton Lesson Plan on On Being Brought from Africa to America

Featured Props

On Being Brought from Africa to America

Student creations come alive with these themed objects – in addition to our library of over 3,000 props!

  • Barn
    Barn
  • Cathedral
    Cathedral
  • Field
    Field
  • Handcuffs
    Handcuffs
  • Hoe
    Hoe
  • Hut
    Hut
  • Prop Letter
    Prop Letter
  • Prop Stained Glass Window
    Prop Stained Glass Window
  • Ship
    Ship
  • Whip
    Whip
Print this Teacher Guide

Teacher Guide

On Being Brought from Africa to America

Step 1Class discussion with students

Getting Started

Review the poem's background information with students:

  • Phillis Wheatley was born in West Africa in 1753 (most likely in Gambia or Senegal). She was stolen by slave traders at the age of seven and survived the horrific journey to America on a slave ship, named Phillis. Her Boston slave owners, the Wheatley family, gave her the name, Phillis Wheatley. They were impressed by her intelligence and taught her to read English, Latin, and Greek. When she was fourteen, she began writing poetry. When she was twenty, she became the first African-American woman to publish a book of poetry. When she was twenty-five, she was freed upon her master's death. She married a free black man and suffered the loss of two babies before dying at the age of thirty-one.

Opening Discussion

As a class, read Phyllis Wheatley's poem, On Being Brought from Africa to America, aloud two times:

  • 'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
  • Taught my benighted soul to understand
  • That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
  • Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
  • Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
  • "Their colour is a diabolic die."
  • Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
  • May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.
Step 2Pixton comic-making activities
  • Make a Mind Map or Timeline
    TP-CASTT Analysis of "On Being Brought from Africa to America"

    Complete after class discussion.

    View Activity
  • Make a Mind Map
    Vocabulary in "On Being Brought From Africa to America"

    Complete after reading poem.

    View Activity
  • Make a Comic Strip or Storyboard
    Meaning of "On Being Brought from Africa to America"

    Complete after class discussion.

    View Activity
  • Extension / Modification
    Poster (Extension / Modification)

    Write and illustrate a Poster version of the poem to decorate the class.

  • Extension / Modification
    Graphic Novel (Extension / Modification)

    Write and illustrate a Graphic Novel to depict the events and ideas of the poem.

Step 3Concluding discussion with students

Discuss the following:

  • What is the theme or message of the poem?
  • Is there anything surprising about the content of the poem? Why or why not?
  • What else would you like to know about Phillis Wheatley's experiences and beliefs?
Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: On Being Brought from Africa to America 1 TP-CASTT Analysis of "On Being Brought from Africa to America"

Featured Layouts

  • Mind Map
  • Timeline

Intro

As a class, read Phyllis Wheatley's poem, On Being Brought from Africa to America, aloud two times:

  • 'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
  • Taught my benighted soul to understand
  • That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
  • Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
  • Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
  • "Their colour is a diabolic die."
  • Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
  • May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.

Review how to analyze poetry using TP-CASTT:

  • Title: Students predict what the poem will be about based on the title.
  • Paraphrase: Students read the poem and paraphrase it's meaning in their own words.
  • Connotation: Students examine the possible multiple figurative meanings of words or the positive or negative associations of words to analyze if the poem has a deeper meaning beyond the surface literal meaning.
  • Attitude: Students infer the author's tone or attitude toward the subject-matter based on word choice and content.
  • Shift: Students decide if there is a shift in tone in the poem and how this shift affects meaning.
  • Title: Students revisit the title to revise their interpretation of its meaning and its affect on the interpretation of the poem as a whole.
  • Theme: Students analyze the deeper meaning, purpose and message of the poem/poet.

Instructions

Create a Mind Map or Timeline that illustrates the elements of TP-CASTT in Phillis Wheatley's "On Being Brought from Africa to America":

  • Identify the element in the panel title
  • Write a detailed description of the element
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Example Mind Map

TP-CASTT Analysis of a Poem by Student
Mind Map"On Being Brought from Africa to America" TitleThe title suggests the poem will describe the actual journey from Africa to America. Since the word "brought" is used it seems the poet was brought by force as a slave. ParaphraseIn my own words, the poem states: After arriving in America, I am grateful for learning about Christianity and salvation that I never knew existed in Africa. However, I hope to teach Americans that Africans are equal to them and can also learn Christian virtues and be worthy of salvation and heaven. Connotation Wheatley uses many words that evoke negative images and also the color black. She relates blackness to evil to critique white American's racist views. She uses the words "benighted," "sable" and "cain" alongisde the words "diabolical," "die" and "scornful." AttitudeWheatley speaks with a dignified and appreciative attitude meant to convince the reader of the virtues of American culture and the Christian values that should teach the equality of the races. ShiftWheatley begins the poem appreciatively praising the virtues of American Christian values. She then shifts tones to reprimand the racist belief that Africans are immoral, backwards and beyond salvation. Title (Again)After reading the poem, it is clear the title does not refer to the phycial journey from Africa to America. Instead it refers to the learning experience of actually living in America in contrast to Africa. ThemeWheatley's purpose for writing this poem is to teach her white readers to respect African-Americans as equals. She illustrates her own moral and intellectual superiority, and challenges readers to view her as immoral or inferior based on race alone.
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Pixton Activity: On Being Brought from Africa to America 2 Vocabulary in "On Being Brought From Africa to America"

Featured Layouts

  • Mind Map

Intro

As a class, read Phyllis Wheatley's poem, On Being Brought from Africa to America:

  • 'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
  • Taught my benighted soul to understand
  • That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
  • Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
  • Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
  • "Their colour is a diabolic die."
  • Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
  • May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.

Instructions

Create a Mind Map to illustrate the literal or symbolic meaning of at least four words from On Being Brought from Africa to America:

  • Identify the word in the panel title
  • Write a detailed definition of the word as it is used in the poem
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: On Being Brought from Africa to America 3 Meaning of "On Being Brought from Africa to America"

Featured Layouts

  • Comic Strip
  • Storyboard

Intro

As a class, read Phyllis Wheatley's poem, On Being Brought from Africa to America:

  • 'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
  • Taught my benighted soul to understand
  • That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
  • Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
  • Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
  • "Their colour is a diabolic die."
  • Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
  • May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.

Instructions

Create a Comic Strip or Storyboard to summarize the main points and meaning of the poem, On Being Brought from Africa to America:

  • Label the main idea in the panel title
  • Write detailed descriptions and/or dialogue to illustrate the idea
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Example Comic Strip

"On Being Brought from Africa to America" Meaning by Student

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