A lesson Before Dying Writing Journal



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A Lesson Before Dying

Writing Journal

Name: ___________________________________


Hour:______________

Throughout this novel, you will be asked to read and react in writing everyday! This novel is one that requires you to read, reflect, react, and then respond. One of the requirements will be to respond to the reading in ONE PAGE of your journal everyday. At the beginning of each hour, while you are working on the daily warm-up, you will be asked to have your journal out so we can check it for completion in which you will earn 5 points every day if complete and rules are followed. If you would like for us to keep your journal, we can over night, but you will still have to write and respond on a separate sheet and then ADD it to your journal the next day.


Aspects to journal on:

  • vocabulary words: we won’t give you an actual list, but any word / words that you want to expand on, feel free to write it down, look up the definition, and then react to it.

  • conflicts: Life is about consequences, so how do the characters react?

  • “bucket list”: on the following page, you wrote down an entire list of things that you want to do before you die. Just like Jefferson, react and respond to it.

  • daily considerations: Feel free to respond to the daily questions, but you are not limited to them – They are there to help you if you’re stuck.

  • changes in history: Thank Goodness times have changed!

  • personal reaction: Feel free to react to the characters / situations / etc.

  • predictions: Maybe you see a pattern and want to respond and predict what will happen next.

  • important quotes: Maybe Gaines grabs you with his writing style and you just have to react.

  • literary terms: Refer to the purple handout in your binder for a list of literary terms.

  • text-to-_______ connections: Respond to those connections that you see.

  • AS LONG AS YOU ARE INTERACTING TO THE NOVEL – YOU’RE OKAY! Move away from plot summary (what happens in the novel) and move toward deep thinking.


Frequently Asked Question about Journal Writing:

What is the journal? A collection of daily thought that YOU have as you read. These thoughts are written down as entries. You can have as many entries as you want.

When is it due? The beginning of the hour every day!

How much counts for a “full page”? exactly what it means = a full page. If you use bullets, you can only do this in a small area – the rest of the page should be writing on every line.

How many points does it count? Every page is 5 points. You can get partial credit if you don’t have time to finish a whole page.

What do you write about? Each entry MUST be about the book or related to the book.

Why do I have to journal? Writing requires you to organize thoughts and put it into writing. Many of you don’t like to write, but if you want to get better, guess what you have to do = WRITE MORE! Put on a happy face!

Your “Bucket List”


  • Write down on the lines below everything you would like to do before YOU die…

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Day One Journal – September 20

  • Explain how Grant feels about the trial?

  • Explain what happened prior to the courtroom scene?

  • Analyze the defense attorney’s statements. What connotations surround the word “hog”?

  • What does Grant mean when he states that, “Jefferson is dead now.”

  • Analyze the symbolism of entering the Pinchot house through the back door.

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Day Two Journal – September 21-chapter 3&4

  • Examine the significance of Miss Emma’s parting words to Pinchot. (Note Miss Emma’s age and physical condition)

  • Discuss the living conditions of the black community in the quarter and in Bayonne.

  • Discuss Vivian, her importance to Grant, and what he wants for them.

  • Explain Grant’s classroom and his role as a teacher.

  • What is the symbolism behind the Westcott ruler?

  • Analyze how Edna Guidry deals with life.

  • Examine the conversation between Sheriff Guidry and Grant concerning Jefferson.

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Day Three Journal – September 22-Ch 7-8 (51-66)

  • Explain the significance of Dr. Joseph’s visit to Grant’s school.

  • Consider what he remembers from his childhood.

  • What did Antoine mean when he said, “…here’s the burden” (63).

  • Explain the social structure among the black community.

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Day Four Journal – September 23-Ch 9-11 (67-85)

  • Discuss the first visit to the jail to visit Jefferson.

  • What did you notice about the courthouse?

  • Contrast the attitudes of the older deputy to the younger deputy, Paul.

  • What is the significance of the fourth visit to Jefferson and the interaction between Miss Emma and Grant?

  • What does the interaction between Grant and his aunt reflect about his younger years?

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Day Five Journal – September 24-Ch 12-14 (86-109)

  • Examine the references to Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis. What does this have to do with the relationship between Jefferson and Grant?

  • Analyze Grant’s inner conflict when he says, “I had been running in place…” (102)

  • Examine Vivian’s visit to the quarter with Grant.

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Day Six Journal – September 25-Connect to text

  • What do you think of the book so far?

  • How do you think prisoners should be treated? Are they treated fairly? Now, imagine you have a friend or relative in jail.

  • How would your opinions of prisoners change? Should they be treated differently?

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Day Seven Journal – September 26-Connect to text

  • Choose either Miss Emma, Jefferson, Grant, Tante Lou. Find a descriptive passage that characterizes one of these characters and fill out the methods of characterization chart below.

_
Methods of Characterization

Name of Character

Nicknames?



Physical Description

Mental Description

Emotional Description

Social Description

Moral Description

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Day Eight Journal – September 27-Ch. 15 & 16 (110-124)

  • Analyze the significance of the photocollage of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Booker T. Washington.

  • Discuss the significance of Vivian’s background and her visit to Grant’s home.

  • Examine what happens to Miss Emma when she visits Jefferson.

  • Discuss the interaction between Grant and Paul Bonin and how Bonin feels about Jefferson.

  • Analyze what Grant tells Jefferson about death on this visit.

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Day Nine Journal- September 28-Ch. 17 & 18 (125-141)

  • Discuss the visits with Jefferson in the day room and their aftermath.

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Day Ten Journal – September 29- Ch. 19 & 20 (142-159)

  • Predict: Do you think things will ever change for Jefferson? for Grant? for the quarter?

  • Discuss the various reactions to the announcement of Jefferson’s execution date.

  • Explain the rationale for setting the execution date for the second Friday after Easter.

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Day 11 Journal – September 30 Ch. 21 & 23 (160-186)

  • What does Grant mean when he says, “They want me for their own.” (165)

  • What are the changes in Jefferson and Grant after the date has been set?

  • Why does Grant get a radio for Jefferson? What are the implications?

  • Analyze the changes in Jefferson.

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Day 12 Journal – October 1

  • Analyze the symbolism in the weather? Grant’s decision to go for a long walk in the opposite direction of the quarter? The furnishings in the front room of the Pichot home?

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Day 13 Journal – October 2 (Optional)

Homecoming is such a fun time of year. Reflect on something you are thankful for or describe a time this weekend where you really “lived in the moment” (school appropriate)

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Day 14 Journal – October 3

  • Pick a passage from this chapter where Gaines describes Jefferson. Compare and contrast: How has he changed (use text examples to support your answer)

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Day 15 Journal – October 4- Chapter 24-25 (187-203)

  • Analyze Grant’s definition of a hero. Why does Grant need Jefferson?

  • Why does Grant fight with the two mulatto bricklayers?

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Day 16 Journal – October 5- Ch. 26-27 (204-218)

  • What is the aftermath of the fight?

  • Predict: What do you think will happen between Grant and Vivian?

  • Analyze the conversation between Rev. Ambrose and Grant. Contrast their approach to help Jefferson.

  • Discuss Rev. Ambrose’s statement that he lies, that Grant’s aunt lies, and that everyone lies. Do you agree? disagree? Why?

  • What is the result of the conversation between the Rev. and Grant?

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Day 17 Journal – October 6 – Ch. 28 (219-225)

  • Analyze Jefferson’s approach to death and his summation of his life.

  • Predict: Do you think Jefferson will die like Christ, as he wishes to do.

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Day 18 Journal – October 7- Ch. 29 (226-234)

  • Summarize Jefferson’s diary entries.

  • Consider his thoughts and fears.

  • Do you agree or disagree?

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Day 19 Journal – October 8 – Ch. 30 (235-245)

  • Discuss the night and day before the execution.

  • What do the final hours of Jefferson’s life reveal about him? about Grant?

  • Analyze Grant’s transformation of his inner conflict.

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Day 20 Journal – October 9

  • Having the day off, what are you going to do to “seize the day”?

  • Examine something new and bright that you’ve never stopped to take the take to notice.

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Day 21 Journal – October 10

  • Examine the plant life around you. What do you notice?

  • Why do you suppose we refer to the “fall” or “autumn” of people’s life cycle? What does that mean?

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Day 22 Journal – October 11- Ch. 31 (246-256)

  • What does Paul say about Jefferson as a character?

  • Did Jefferson fulfill Grant’s definition of a hero?

  • Why would Paul not want to forget this day?

  • What does this say about Jefferson’s impact on others?

  • How has Grant changed as a character? Use text to support.

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