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It seems to me that the lesson involves instructing students as to the narrative of Exodus and then linking it to the spiritual, "Go Down Moses."
I think that this lesson can be accomplished by utilizing direct instruction, personal reflection, and student collaboration. The first part of the lesson can be done in groups. Students can be placed in groups of four to five. They are responsible for reading a secondary source analysis of the Book of Exodus. Students need to have some basic background and understanding of the Exodus narrative before applying it to the spiritual. A souce from enotes has been included. Depending on the reading level of the students, modifications might be needed to be made. Each group is responsible for answering specific questions. For example, one group can identify why the ancient Israelites wanted to leave Egypt. Another group can identify who Pharaoh was and how he treated the Israelites. A third group can identify the role Moses played in the Exodus, and another group can identify essential vocabulary words in the article. Other questions can be made up depending on the number of groups. This should take no more than ten or fifteen minutes. Students present their findings to the larger group and students take notes on the essential questions. This should be done in a rapid fire manner, whereby students are able to instruct, notate, and move on to the next group. It might not be a bad idea to have a template of all the questions that groups need to answer and as groups deliver their findings, groups can write in the answers on their template.
Once this is done, the background information is set. Students can now interact with the spiritual. Students might need to know that the spiritual was sung during American slavery. By later elementary grades, slavery should be a topic with which students have been familiarized. The spiritual can be played out for students. (An online recording can be found.) Then, students should have copies of the spiritual's text. This is where direct instruction can take place or where reverting back to group work can be done. Some of the questions that can be generated here would be for students to describe the role of Moses in the spiritual and to describe the role of the Pharaoh in the spiritual. Another set of discussion questions would be for students to think about why slaves would sing this song, or how slaves during the time period would identify with the Israelites. I think that a good set of questions would come out of students identifying verses of hope and verses of sadness in the song. Finally, it might not be a bad idea for students to reflect how they feel about the song. Is it hopeful? Is it sad? Is there hope within sadness? In each of these questions, getting students to identity answers based on lines from the song is critical. Students need to be able to have an answer and have evidence from the spiritual to back up why they feel what they feel. A good template: "I think ____________ and this can be seen in the verse ______________ because." Something like this template can be used. This will guarantee an interaction with the text and higher ordered thinking amongst the students. If time permits, perhaps asking students to find a modern song that accomplishes the same goals as "Go Down, Moses" might be an interesting activity. Seeing them try to link Justin Bieber with the spiritual could be fascinating.
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