1. 1.    Essential Questions

  1. a.    What is the “culture of power” according to Lisa Delpit?

  2. b.    What is a dialect?

  3. c.    Do we speak different "languages" based upon our audience or the situation we’re in?  If so, what are the differences?

  4. d.    How does how we speak or write affect how others interpret our message?

  5. e.    What are the grammatical rules of Standard American English?  What are the rules of African American Vernacular English?

  6. f.    Who decides the rules of language?  Do these rules ever change?

2.    Texts

    a.    "Mother Tongue," Amy Tan

    b.     Feed, M.T. Anderson

    c.     Bodega Dreams, Ernesto


    d.      When I was Puerto Rican,

         Esmerelda Santiago

    e.     Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

    f.     The Color Purple, Alice Walker

    Excerpts from:

    g. The Skin We Speak, Lisa Delpit

    h.Other People's Children,

    Lisa Delpit

    i.  The Wire

3.    Learning Outcomes:

  1. a.Big Ideas

  1. Student can demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between Delpit’s “culture of power” and language.

  1. b.Skills

  2. Student can use reading strategies to comprehend and analyze texts.

  3. Student can read independently in and outside of class.

  4. Student can use appropriate evidence to support ideas.

  5. Student can summarize a nonfiction text.

  6. Student can use different modes of expression (artistic, musical, theatrical) to augment or support an idea.

  7. Student can conduct research within teacher provided resources and select evidence relevant to the topic or argument.

  1. c.Knowledge

  1. Student can define common roots and affixes and use this knowledge to interpret unfamiliar words.

  2. Student can identify parts of speech and follow appropriate grammatical rules according to context (including both AAVE and SAE constructions).

4.    Final Assessments

PART ONE: Code-Switching Skit

Students create a brief skit that demonstrates their code-switching abilities.  Groups can

(1) have characters who speak different dialects interact with each other, experience a communication difficulty, and overcome it, or (2) present the same situation twice: once in Standard American English (SAE) and again in another code or dialect.

PART TWO:  Research Paper

Based on their research, students summarize and evaluate the validity of Delpit's arguments about the culture of power in the context of their own personal experiences. 

“Every one wants power, but not every one knows how to get it.  According to Lisa Delpit there is a culture of power that must be followed in order to attain it..”

-Kahleek D.

(read the paper)

“Lisa Delpit is very important because she gives the knowledge of how to get power to people who don't have it. She also tells us our rights to power and how and when to use it.”

-Hidea J.

(read the paper)

Student Work

© 2010 Vanessa Snowden