The Voice That Challenged a Nation Lesson Plan

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

This lesson plan provides discussion questions and activities for the Russell Freedman book, 'The Voice That Challenged a Nation.' Students will discuss Marian Anderson's life in terms of her contributions to both music and Civil Rights.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will

  • identify Marian Anderson as a famous singer and Civil Rights advocate
  • describe events from Marian Anderson's life
  • identify important facts after reading informational texts
  • list facts from an informational text in sequential order


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.


Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6-8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Materials Needed

  • Projector or SMART Board
  • 'The Voice That Challenged A Nation: Summary & Characters' text lesson (1 per student)
  • The Voice That Challenged a Nation by Russell Freedman (1 copy per student)
  • Roll of paper
  • Markers, crayons or colored pencils
  • 'The Voice That Challenged a Nation Quiz' (1 copy per student)


  • Students should have already read the book, The Voice That Challenged A Nation, by Russell Freedman, before beginning this lesson.
  • To introduce the lesson, display an image of Marian Anderson using a projector or SMARTBoard.
  • Ask the students to respond to these questions with a partner:
    • Who is the book about?
    • What are three things you remember about her from the book?
    • Why is her life important enough for her to be the subject of a book and to be studied in school?
  • After the students have discussed these questions in pairs, review their responses as a group.
  • Ask the students to respond to these questions:
    • Why is the title of the book, A Voice That Challenged a Nation, appropriate?
    • Whose voice does the title refer to?
    • What nation?
    • What was challenged?
  • Display the text lesson, The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Summary & Characters using a projector or SMARTBoard.
  • Provide each student with a printed copy of the lesson text.
  • Read the section, 'A Force for Change,' aloud while the students read it silently.
  • Discuss this section with questions, such as:
    • Why is music often a part of social change?
    • What is 'segregation?'
    • What were 'Jim Crow laws?'

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