This toolkit offers resources and texts to help bring Maya Angelou to life in the classroom, with tips on how to approach specific texts and aspects of her life.
1. What is the legacy of Maya Angelou?
2. How did Maya Angelou’s poetry become a tool for social justice?
3. How can students reading poetry help them understand their own identity and the history of oppressed people?
Explore Maya Angelou’s life and legacy by creating a customized Learning Plan that gives your students the opportunity to closely read her work and engage with her words through a social justice lens.
1. Begin by navigating to the Build a Learning Plan page. Choose a grade level and a Social Justice Domain (identity, diversity, justice, action) that fits your teaching and learning goals. Consider using one of the provided essential questions or come up with your own to match the needs of your students.
2. Next, choose from a list of texts by Maya Angelou by searching for her name or referencing the titles provided in the Related Resources list below. If you teach younger students, consider having them read “Still I Rise,” and explore her brilliant imagery and message about enslaved black women. With her essay “Choices,” older students can analyze the author’s point of view, tone and voice, as well as regional and racial tensions in the United States.
3. Finally, select from numerous Strategies and Student Tasks that can help you fine-tune your learning plan to the needs of the students in your classroom. Strategies like Text Graffiti or Annolighting give students a scaffold for exploring new texts and thinking as they go. For Student Tasks, our list of Do Something activities encourages students to take the concepts they’ve studied a step further by planning a community action.
4. Once you’ve developed your Learning Plan, consider making it public so other Teaching Tolerance teachers can use it in their classrooms.