Teaching Guide

Please refer to the module Teaching Guide for additional information.

Lesson summary
Instructional use
Pre-lesson activity
Standards covered by this lesson

Lesson summary

Willie Ray Thomas is a boy whose family came to Chicago from the Mississippi Delta in 1919 during the first Great Migration. His father was a sharecropper who decided to come North to better his economic circumstances. Li'l Willie (as he is called) describes how Jim Crow laws were in effect in the South and, invisibly, in the North, and the troubles this caused many Black families who came to Chicago. He takes readers through the apartment building where he lives and tells the stories of each apartment's occupants and why they came to Chicago. Throughout the lesson readers learn about important local and national African-American leaders.

Instructional use

Please refer to the instructional use scenarios in the module Teaching Guide.

Pre-lesson activity

It is recommended that teachers preview the lesson to identify concepts that may need to be reviewed before students begin. Concepts include migration and discrimination. Teachers may also wish to create a vocabulary/spelling list for terms found in this lesson.

Teachers may wish to review the biographies of the historical figures studied in the lesson to provide anecdotal or secondary information. It would also be helpful to review the historical period discussed in the lesson.


Standards covered by this lesson

Refer to the module Teaching Guide for list a Language Arts goals covered by all WebDocent lessons.

Late Elementary Learning Standards

STATE GOAL 14: Understand political systems, with an emphasis on the United States

D. Understand the roles and influences of individuals and interest groups in the political systems of Illinois, the United States and other nations.

14D.2 - Explain ways that individuals and groups influence and shape public policy.

F. Understand the development of United States political ideas and traditions.

14F.2 Identify consistencies and inconsistencies between expressed United States political traditions and ideas and actual practices (e.g., freedom of speech, right to bear arms, slavery, voting rights).


STATE GOAL 15: Understand economic systems, with an emphasis on the United States.

A. Understand how different economic systems operate in the exchange, production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.

15.A.2a Explain how economic systems decide what goods and services are produced, how they are produced and who consumes them.

15.A.2b Describe how incomes reflect choices made about education and careers.
15.A.2c Describe unemployment.

C. Understand that scarcity necessitates choices by producers.

15.C.2b Identify and explain examples of competition in the economy.
15.C.2c Describe how entrepreneurs take risks in order to produce goods or services.

D. Understand trade as an exchange of goods or services.

15.D.2a Explain why people and countries voluntarily exchange goods and services.

15.D.2b Describe the relationships among specialization, division of labor, productivity of workers and interdependence among producers and consumers.


STATE GOAL 16: Understand events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of Illinois, the United States and other nations.

C. Understand the development of economic systems.

16.C.2b (US) Explain how individuals contributed to economic change through ideas, inventions and entrepreneurship.

D. Understand Illinois, United States and world social history.

16.D.2c (US) Describe the influence of key individuals and groups, including Susan B. Anthony/suffrage and Martin Luther King, Jr./civil rights, in the historical eras of Illinois and the United States.

E. Understand Illinois, United States and world environmental history.

16.E.2a (US) Identify environmental factors that drew settlers to the state and region.
16.E.2c (US) Describe environmental factors that influenced the development of transportation and trade in Illinois.


STATE GOAL 17: Understand world geography and the effects of geography on society, with an emphasis on the United States.

C. Understand relationships between geographic factors and society.

17.C.2b Describe the relationships among location of resources, population distribution and economic activities (e.g., transportation, trade, communications).

D. Understand the historical significance of geography.

17.D.2b Identify different settlement patterns in Illinois and the United States and relate them to physical features and resources.


STATE GOAL 18: Understand social systems, with an emphasis on the United States.

A. Compare characteristics of culture as reflected in language, literature, the arts, traditions and institutions.

18.A.2 Explain ways in which language, stories, folk tales, music, media and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture.

B. Understand the roles and interactions of individuals and groups in society.

18.B.2a Describe interactions of individuals, groups and institutions in situations drawn from the local community (e.g., local response to state and national reforms).



Refer to the module Teaching Guide for an explanation of the online journal for assessment purposes.

See the Additional Activities page for ideas for extending the lesson and offline assessment ideas.