Remembering Nelson Mandela: Leveled Texts Paired with Automated Assessments

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This Saturday, December 5th, marks the two year anniversary of Nelson Mandela's death. The former South African president and freedom fighter spent 27 years in prison for resisting apartheid and is undoubtedly viewed as one of the world's greatest civil rights leaders alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. The anniversary of Mandela's death not only provides teachers with the opportunity to introduce students to this key historical figure, it can also open the door for a discussion about today's civil rights issues. From Ferguson to Baltimore to Chicago, children all across America are witnessing protests stemming from allegations of racially motivated police brutality. As our students try make sense of these traumatic events, these leveled texts paired with the CERCA Framework can provide them with the necessary background knowledge and structure to express their point of view about such difficult topics.

Walking Students Through an Evidence-Based Argument

Using ThinkCERCA’s free argumentative writing poster as a guide, teachers can walk students through the process of making a formal argument with the CERCA Framework. After reading the leveled text, ask students to think about the key question or writing prompt and then:

  • Make a Claim in response to the key question.
  • Support their claim with Evidence from the text.
  • Explain their Reasoning.
  • Address any Counterarguments.
  • Use Audience-appropriate language to put these elements together in a final written argument.

Have a Discussion or Debate

Alternatively, teachers can coordinate a collaborative debate by breaking students into pairs and asking them to follow these three steps.

Free Close Reading Lessons About Nelson Mandela

Brothers in Spirit, Brothers in Liberation
Key Question: Who did Nelson Mandela look up to?
Grades 3-5; CCSS.CCRA.R.8
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Free Mandela
Key Question: Who fought to free Nelson Mandela?
Grades 6-8; CCSS.CCRA.R.8
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Remaking a Nation: President Mandela
Key Question: What were the opportunities and challenges of implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after Apartheid ended?
Grades 9-10; CCSS.CCRA.R.8
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The World’s Leaders Mourn a Moral Giant
Key Question: Why is Nelson Mandela remembered and praised by people around the world?
Grades 11-12; CCSS.CCRA.R.1
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As a Leader, Nelson Mandela Was Willing to Use Violence
Key Question: Why did Nelson Mandela embrace violence as a tactic in the fight against apartheid?
Grades 11-12; CCSS.CCRA.R.1
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Other Relevant Applied Writing Lessons for Grades 4-12 [Premium Users]

Crime Prevention
What are the benefits and possible drawbacks of various approaches to crime prevention?
View Lesson >> 

Perseverance
How do we overcome challenges in our country, our communities, and our lives?
View Lesson >> 

Elizabeth Riley Boyer

Elizabeth Riley Boyer

Elizabeth Riley Boyer is an experienced journalist, digital content strategist, and operations manager. Prior to joining ThinkCERCA, she was part of the founding team at Impact Engine, Chicago’s first social impact investment fund and accelerator. As Impact Engine’s Director of Operations & Communications, Elizabeth oversaw the company’s overall processes, day-to-day planning and finances, curriculum development, marketing strategy, and community outreach.

Elizabeth also spent three years at Chicago magazine, most recently as its Digital Engagement Editor, where she managed the organization’s social media and reader engagement initiatives. Elizabeth also works as a freelance content strategist, writer, and communications consultant. Her recent writings on impact entrepreneurship have been featured by the Huffington Post and Crain’s Chicago Business.

In 2007, Elizabeth helped open a private school for underprivileged children while volunteering for a nonprofit organization in the Dominican Republic. This experience inspired her to quit a paper-pushing job at an insurance brokerage firm to pursue a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Elizabeth also holds a bachelor’s degree in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin.