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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Teacher Guide by Anna Warfield

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School Category!
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Student Activities for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Include:

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor tells the story of the Logan family as they try to keep their land in a predominantly-white, rural town in Mississippi. Young Cassie Logan struggles with the way things are, and the way things should be for black people in her community. Mildred D. Taylor won the Newbery Award in 1977 for this work of historical fiction, which is based on the experiences of her own family.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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Essential Questions for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

  1. Why is racism so deeply rooted in Great Faith, and the South in general?
  2. How does the Logan family defy society?
  3. What are some of the parallels between the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the actions of the Logan Family?
  4. How do we affect change in our community and our society?
  5. How does Taylor use dialect and local details to make her story relatable and authentic?
  6. How does poverty affect people as individuals? The social structure?

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Plot Diagram


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A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of the structure of the story.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the book in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.

As an alternative or extension activity, students could focus on some of the subplots in the story, such as T.J.’s full story, or Cassie and her struggle against Lillian Jean Simms.



Example Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Plot Diagram

Exposition

Cassie and her brothers live in Great Faith, Mississippi in 1933, with Mama and Big Ma, Cassie's grandmother. Stacey is nearly 13, Cassie is 9, Christopher John is 7, and Little Man is 6 years old.


Conflict

The two Wallace brothers burn Mr. Perry and his two nephews. One nephew dies and the other two are severely burned. The Wallaces brag about the horrible act among their friends, but are not arrested. They also allow kids to drink and dance behind their store.


Rising Action

After Stacey and T.J.'s fight at the Wallaces', Mama tries to convince the people of the town to boycott the Wallaces' store. With the backing of the white lawyer, Mr. Jamison, Papa and Mr. Morrison travel to Vicksburg to buy supplies for many families.


Climax

Mr. Granger is angling to buy the Logan land, and is upset that the Logans have forgotten their "place". Mama is fired from her job, Papa is shot on one of his trips, and suddenly the property mortgage becomes due in full. They turn to Hammer for help.


Falling Action

R.W. and Melvin Simms frame T.J. for a break-in and murder at the store. The Wallaces and the Simms brothers drag T.J. and his family outside and threaten to lynch T.J


Resolution

T.J.'s lynching is abandoned as everyone - both black and white - works together to put out the fire in the cotton fields. Cassie comes to realize that Papa started the fire to avoid further bloodshed.


Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry Plot Diagram

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  3. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  4. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.



Plot Diagram Template

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Character Map

In this activity, students depict the characters of the story, paying close attention to the physical and character traits of both major and minor characters. Students provide detailed information regarding the characters’ actions and how they influence other characters. In addition, students can identify how the main character changes over time.

Have students create the characters and fill in the information from a template, or you can make the characters on a blank map and print it out for students to complete. Alternatively, assign different characters to different students or groups to go into greater detail. Students or groups can present their information to the rest of the class.

Other characters to consider who were not included in this character map:

  • Harlan Granger
  • Jeremy Simms
  • Mr. Simms
  • Mr. Avery
  • Mr./Mrs. Berry
  • Claude Avery
  • Wallace Family
  • Mr. Jamison
  • “Night Men”
Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry Characters

Example

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Themes

Theme is an important element to any piece of literature. The Common Core wants students to be able to identify themes and pick out details from the text to support their choices. There are many major and minor themes prevalent in this story. One prominent theme of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is the importance of family. Cassie is well aware of the importance of family throughout the book, and there are several instances when Cassie, or other characters, talk about family and what it means to them.


The Importance of Family

  1. Jeremy and His Siblings

    Cassie and Stacey are surprised when Jeremy says he doesn't like his siblings. To the Logans, family is family, and is more important than anything else.

  2. Big Ma’s Memories

    Big Ma tells Cassie about the past. Cassie has heard these stories before, but still wants to hear about her family.

  3. Mr. Morrison’s Family

    During the time of Reconstruction, southern soldiers attacked the Morrison home. His mother got him away from the violence, but she and the rest of his family were killed. Mr. Morrison forced himself to remember. Now he has found a new family.


Other possible themes and motifs to look for and discuss:

  • land as a sign of independence
  • racism/prejudice
  • intolerance
  • injustice
  • cruelty
  • community
  • personal strength
  • peer pressure
  • growing up/understanding truths

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry Theme

Example

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Literary Conflict


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There are many, many conflicts that arise in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Some are physical, and some are inherent in the properties of the story’s setting.

Examples of Literary Conflict in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

MAN vs. MAN

Stacey fights with T.J. after T.J. cheated on a test and Stacey got in trouble for it. Mama found T.J.’s cheat sheet in Stacey’s possession and whipped Stacey.


MAN vs. SELF

Stacey feels responsible for Papa's broken leg because he wasn't strong enough to hold Jack when Papa was shot trying to fix the wheels. Papa's gunshot wound was not serious, but the broken leg stops Papa from being able to work.


MAN vs. SOCIETY

Cassie is made to address a white child as if she were superior to her and to apologize for something that wasn't her fault. In the Mississippi society at the time, black people were viewed as inferior to white people.


MAN vs. NATURE

The fire in the cotton field threatens the livelihood of the Logan family. In addition, if the fire were to spread beyond the Logan land, all of the surrounding land would be in danger too. The Logans and the other members of the community work hard to put out the fire.


Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry Conflict

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows at least three forms of literary conflict in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify conflicts in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
  3. Categorize each conflict as Character vs. Character, Character vs. Self, Character vs. Society, Character vs. Nature, or Character vs. Technology.
  4. Illustrate conflicts in the cells, using characters from the story.
  5. Write a short description of the conflict below the cell.
  6. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.



Literary Conflict Template

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Vocabulary and Dialect


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Learning new vocabulary is an important part of reading any book. Often, new words pertaining to an unfamiliar context need to be mastered before a student can understand what is happening in a story. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry has many words that are particular and relevant to its setting in the rural South.

Taylor uses many vivid verbs, unique adjectives, and colloquialisms to enhance her writing. How do the words create a better visual in your mind? How does the vocabulary make the writing more authentic?

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Vocabulary Activities Example

  • sharecropper
  • maverick
  • lynch
  • persnickety
  • languidly
  • gleaned
  • wizened
  • shun
  • saunter
  • traipsing
  • reckon
  • wheedle
  • akimbo
  • emaciated
  • malevolently
  • skittish
  • clabber
  • chiffonier
  • oblivious
  • meticulously
  • chain gang

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry Vocabulary

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



Vocabulary Template Blank

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Summary

Cassie and her brothers, Stacey, Christopher-John, and Little Man, live in Great Faith, Mississippi in 1933 with their mother, and grandmother, Big Ma. Their father works on the railroad to make money to pay the taxes for their land and doesn’t always stay at home. Her family is black during a time of segregation, racism, and injustice; black people are viewed by the local society as second-class citizens, and some individuals are even more hostile.

While the black students are not provided with a bus and have hand-me-down school supplies, the white students receive everything they need. The white bus driver torments black children as they are walking along the road by stirring up dust or spraying them with mud.

The two Wallace brothers pour kerosene on Mr. Berry and his nephews and set them on fire because one supposedly made advances toward a white woman. One nephew dies, and the other two are severely burned. The Wallaces brag about the horrible act among their friends, but are not arrested, despite a man dying.They allow kids to drink and dance behind their store, and laugh at the kids who come. Mama forbids her children to go to the store.

Stacey and T.J. are in Mama’s class at school, and T.J. wants Stacey to help him cheat during tests. Stacey refuses and confiscates one of T.J.’s cheat sheets, but Mama catches him and whips Stacey in front of the whole class. Stacey confronts T.J. behind the Wallace’s store and they fight, but it is broken up by Mr. Morrison.

After Stacey and T.J.'s fight near the Wallace's, Mama brings the children to the Berrys’ house, where they find Mr. Berry severely disfigured by the fire. Mama tells her children that the Wallaces are bad people for what they did to Mr. Berry and his nephews, and that’s why she doesn’t want them going to the store. Mama then tries to convince other black families of the town to boycott the Wallaces’ store. Because so many people are sharecropping farmers, they are very poor and dependent on the white landowners for credit. But with the backing of a white lawyer, Mr. Jamison, Papa and Mr. Morrison travel to Vicksburg to buy supplies for many families.

Cassie accompanies her grandmother on a trip to Strawberry, and she learns some very harsh truths about “the way of things”. A clerk in a store denies T.J., Stacey, and Cassie service because it is more important for him to wait on the white customers. Cassie loses her temper and yells at the clerk, but only succeeds in being ejected from the store. A girl named Lillian Jean bumps into Cassie, demanding that she apologize and walk in the street. Mr. Simms comes along and forces Cassie to apologize, and Big Ma doesn’t stand up for her. Cassie is furious, ashamed, and hurt. Stacey and Mama both try to explain to her that Big Ma only did what she could to keep Cassie safe, even though she doesn’t like how things are either.

Harlan Granger has been angling to buy the Logan land, and is upset that the Logans have forgotten their "place" by stirring up trouble with the Wallace boycott. Mama is fired from her job, Papa is shot on one of his trips from Vicksburg, and suddenly the property mortgage becomes due in full. They turn to Cassie’s uncle, Hammer, for help. Hammer sells his car to get enough money to save the land.

T.J. has lost his friends by cheating on the test and informing on Mama’s teaching. He starts hanging out with R.W. and Melvin Simms, but their younger brother, Jeremy, tells the Logans that R.W. and Melvin laugh at T.J. behind his back. T.J. tries to impress his old friends by bragging about his new white friends, but no one listens. Soon, the Simms brothers frame T.J. for a break-in and murder at the store in Strawberry. The Wallace and Simms brothers drag T.J. and his family outside of their house in the middle of the night and threaten to lynch T.J.

Cassie and Stacey, who went out to the Averys’ place, witness everything, and Cassie tells her father. Papa picks up the shotgun and starts toward the Averys’ to try and stop them, but Mama is frightened and worried, and wants him to find another way to stop it. The Logans soon find out that their cotton field is on fire, likely due to lightning strikes of the impending storm. T.J.'s lynching is abandoned as everyone - both black and white - works together to put out the fire in the cotton fields before it spreads to other properties. Cassie comes to realize that Papa started the fire and sacrificed part of their future profits from the cotton to avoid further bloodshed.


You can do even more with Storyboard That!

  1. Create a cause and effect storyboard.
  2. Turn any of your storyboards into a presentation.
  3. Compare the amenities given to blacks and whites, or black life in the 1930s and now.
  4. Do a chapter analysis with a web or traditional storyboard.
  5. Compare Hammer Logan’s life to Mr. Avery’s or another sharecropper’s life in a T-Chart.
  6. Create storyboards retelling events from a different point of view.

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•   (English) Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry   •   (Español) Rollo de Trueno, Escucha mi Llanto   •   (Français) Rouleau de Tonnerre, Hear My Cry   •   (Deutsch) Rolle des Donners, Hören Meinen Schrei   •   (Italiana) Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry   •   (Nederlands) Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry   •   (Português) Rolo do Trovão, Ouça meu Grito   •   (עברית) רול של רעם, לשמוע את זעקתי   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) لفة من الرعد اسمع صرختي   •   (हिन्दी) थंडर रोल, सुनो, मेरे रो   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Раскат Грома, Hear My Cry   •   (Dansk) Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry   •   (Svenska) Roll of Thunder, hör Mitt rop   •   (Suomi) Rulla Thunder, Hear My Cry   •   (Norsk) Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry