Language Arts 8
Unit 3: Short Stories: Personal Growth
Lesson: 2 "Thank You Ma'am"
Time Required: 4 days (4 x 60 min + Homework)


Sightlines 8, "Thank You Ma'am", page 14
Resource Lines 7/8



to examine and make predictions during reading and create an advertising campaign.


1.1.4 Express preferences as make predictions during reading
2.3.1 Understand forms and genres by developing an advertising campaign and considering effect of title


Think about the following questions:

Have you ever been in a situation where you know you have done something wrong to someone else, but they end up being kind to you in return, rather than angry or vengeful?

Is it ever okay to take something that belongs to someone else? What circumstances would justify this?

What punishment should people face for stealing? Why?

Before reading the short story, predict, from the title and opening illustration, what the story will be about and what language conventions you expect from the use of the word Ma'am.

Also, reflect on youth street crime. What is the cause? What do you think can be done? Be prepared to discuss your thoughts on these issues during our upcoming tutorial.

Take some time to watch the clip of "Thank You Ma'am" based on the short story we are about to read.


Written by Langston Hughes, a major literary figure of the Harlem renaissance, "Thank You Ma'am" shows the consequences a young thief faces after attempting to steal a strong yet compassionate victim's purse. Rather than condemn the young thief, Mrs. Lucella Bates Washington Jones empathizes with him and takes him into her home for a hot meal.

Turn to page 14 of your Sightlines 8 text book and read "Thank You Ma'am". As you read through the story, record the idiomatic expressions that require clarification.

Idiomatic refers to a peculiar mode of expression or language. For example, "blue-jeaned sitter," "didn't aim to," "You a lie," "got a great mind to..." Please see page 4 of your ResourceLines 7/8 text on Making Notes.

Exercise 1: Respond to each of the following questions in complete sentences, with direct reference to "Thank You Ma'am" by Langston Hughes.

Construct your responses in a Word document labeled LA8U3L2a.lastname and post it in the Dropbox for: LA8U3L2a Thank You, Ma'am.

1. In the opening scene of this short story what incident occurs?
2. What is the "twist" or "surprise" encountered by the criminal?
3. What does the reader discover about the boy and his home life?
4. Why does Mrs. Jones feed the boy, care for him, and even give him money?
5. Why was the boy left speechless at the end of the story?
6. Do you think the story's title is effective? Why or why not? What title would you suggest and why?
7. What should Roger be thankful for?

This assignment is worth 10 comprehension homework marks. If each question is attempted, and it is submitted on the due date you will receive full marks. If any question is left blank or the assignment is not submitted on time, you will receive a zero. It is all or nothing!

Exercise 2: Take some time to research youth crime. Create a cause and effect chart and record your findings as you search. Once you have gathered some information, using either video, audio or print, develop an advertising campaign to discourage young people from turning to crime. Use Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones and Roger as your "example". Be creative here!

Please refer to pages 226-231 in your Resource Lines text for information on how to create audio, video and print ads.

Attach your sound files or text files, labeled LA8U3L2b.lastname in the Dropbox for: LA8U3L2b Crime Advertisement. Please be prepared to share your ads during our next tutorial.

Impact on audience: 5
Use of characters as "poster people": 5
Overall appeal: 5

Total: 15 Marks


Closure and Challenge: For those of you that need to be challenged a bit more by this unit, I am going to list some alternate activities that you might want to consider thinking about or doing. In addition, I will also list some stories that having some related themes and genres with the story that we just read. This material is simply supplied here as enrichment for those students who are reading at a higher grade level, or have language skills that require them to be challenged. In other words, this is NOT additional work for those of you that feel that the lesson meets your needs as a learner.

Links within Sightlines 8: The Hockey Sweater, p. 44, Catch, p. 51, Ambush, p. 61, Some Tings Lie So Deep, p. 129.

Plot Line: To challenge yourself, in addition to completing the advertisement, complete a plot line of this story and outline the types of conflict in the story.


You will be evaluated based on the assignments outlined above.