I’ve Got the Literacy Blues

What are the blues? How can the blues be used to better understand a story’s theme? Students will answer these questions in this lesson when they read O. Henry’s "The Gift of the Magi" and explore the story’s themes using blues music, creative writing, and media study. Students begin by listening to several blues selections, reading essays about the blues, and discussing characteristics of blues music. Next, students build their background knowledge by conducting research and completing a graphic organizer about the blues. After researching the blues, students read "The Gift of the Magi" and identify the story's themes. They then make connections to their own lives by writing and performing blues poetry based on one of the themes from the story. As a final project, students create a mural to showcase their understanding of the story's themes as they apply to literature, music, poetry, and their own lives.