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Free Unit for All American Boys

Updated: Apr 3

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During the 2021-2022 school year, I decided to read All American Boys with my English 9 self-contained class. All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely is a high interest read that I thought would be great for this class.This class has about 15 students of varying reading abilities, but most students were far, far behind. This was not a book that they could read independently, so I set about breaking it up into pieces for them. I did a little tooooooo good of a job breaking it down, and it ended up taking us almost the whole year to read. Whoops. I probably won't do that again because the kids did not like spending all that time on one book, but they did ultimately enjoy the book. I have yet to find another class that All American Boys would be a good fit for, so the wait beings. But the mean time, I have a ton of materials to share. I hope these free materials for All American Boys will make your life easier.

When I started teaching the book, I used this free unit that I found at justice.eduation. I am forever thankful to its creator, Madison Webster. There were many days that year where I had zero time to plan and pulled from this unit at the last second. I thought that the videos and extension activities were especially good-things that I never would have thought of and that were really engaging to my students.

The materials below are the materials and reading guides that I created to break down each section and reading and supplement Webster's ideas & materials. All of it is combined below so that the reader can see how the unit unfolded. I have noted when an activity or question came from Webster's unit.

The unit, like the book, is divided into 7 chunks based on the days of the week. Each day of the week is then divided into two different sections so that there can be two different narrators.

All American Boys is about two teenage boys from the same neighborhood: one black (Rashad), one white (Quinn). When Rashad is brutally beaten by a cop, and that was like a father figure to Quinn, Quinn has a lot of thinking to do. The story switches between the perspectives of the two boys.


Day 1

Introduce the "Friday" vocabulary list. Students draw a visual and copy or write a sentence.

All American Boys Opening Journal: 

  • Student Prompt: Write about a time when you got in trouble but did not do anything wrong.

All American Boys Cover Analysis

  • Cover Analysis Handout. I asked the kids to make 5 observations about the over and then use that to make 5 observations and ask 5 questions.

Listen to "Zoom In" (Opening of book)

  • What do you picture in  your head? Draw it. 

  • What is going on here? 

  • Why open the book this way?

Day 2

All American Boys Journal

  • Write about what you do on Fridays after school gets out. 

Analysis of Opening Passage (30-45 minutes)

  • Listen to opening

  • Complete All American Boys First Page Close Reading  In this handout, students are asked to color-code a passage based on action, characters, setting, literary devices, etc. They then have to answer some questions. We usually do the analysis together and then I put the kiddos into groups to answer the questions at the end.

Day 3

The book is divided by days of the week AND by narrator. Each day alternates between Rashad's point of view and Quinn's point of view. The story opens with a chapter from Rashad and a lot of characters are introduced, so it's best to play a little bit of the chapter, stop and fill in the character chart, and then repeat until the chart is done. I played the audiobook for most of the unit and had kids follow along in the paper copies while they listened. I purchased the Audible recording of All American Boys and used that for the unit. I thought it was worth the money.

Day 4

  • Listen to "Quinn" (pages 24-35). Complete in pieces (like you did for the Rashad chapter).

  • Fill in "Quinn Character Chart"

Day 5

  • Briefly review yesterday's reading & related characters 

  • Listen to 36-40 of "Quinn"

  • Finish filling in more of the "Quinn Character Chart"

This is when I realized that my lessons, although practical, were boring and I needed some new ideas. If I ever taught this book again, I would start with Webster's lesson that explores the question: "What is the responsibility of the witness?"

After the video, my coteacher and I talked about it with the kids we filled in the handout together.

Days 6-7

Day 8

Grammar & Writing time: Write about a time when you told the truth but your parents or friends, etc., didn’t believe you. How did you feel? 150 words (15 minutes) 

  • Capitalize everything that needs to be capitalized. Show a teacher before you submit. 

Vocabulary: Use all of your vocabulary words in a story. 

Four Corners Discussion: What is the responsibility, if any, of the witness?

 (strongly agree/agree/strongly disagree/disagree)

For a "Four Corners Discussion, put signs up in each corner of the room. The signs should say "strongly agree," "agree," "strongly disagree," and "disagree." Ask students each the questions below and have them stand in front of their response. Have kids share out their reasoning.

  • Witnesses have a responsibility to intervene in an incident 

  • Witnesses have a responsibility to intervene in an incident even when their safety might be at risk. 

  • Witnesses should mind their own business.

  • Witnesses should mind their own business during the incident but then speak up after. 

  • Witnesses should mind their own business (during the incident and after) even if it leads to false accusations.

Day 9

  • Journal: Quinn witnessed the cop beating up Rashad, and he was one of only a few people who saw what happened. What should Quinn do? Should he get involved somehow? Should he not? What do you think he should do and why?

  • Listen to "Quinn" Saturday (pages 61-82) -No reading guide for this section.

Day 10

  • "Friday" & "Saturday" Vocabulary Quiz (paid product)

  • Journal: Quinn witnessed the cop beating up Rashad, and he was one of only a few people who saw what happened. What should Quinn do? Should he get involved somehow? Should he not? What do you think he should do and why?

  • Discussion: Please respond to one, some, or all of the following questions: 

  • Why must we seek to understand experiences that we may never have? 

  • Is it worthwhile to understand something from multiple perspectives? Why or why not? 

  • Write about how Quinn and Rashad experienced the same event differently.

  • How did your understanding of the event between Rashad and Paul change after thinking about it from different perspectives?

Day 11

Prompt: As the novel opens, Rashad states, “Let me make something

clear: I didn’t need ROTC. I didn’t want to be part of no military family.”

Despite his lack of desire to be involved in ROTC, he remains a member in

good standing to make his father happy. 

  • What can be inferred about Rashad from this knowledge? Have you ever been in a similar situation where you remained committed to something to please the people you love? Share your experience. (150 word)

  • Or, write about a time that you did something you did not want to do but did it anyway to make someone else happy. Make up your own story if you do not have any of your own examples. 

Day 12

  • Work on "Sunday" vocabulary handout.

All American Boys Reading Time

Day 13


  • Cut out the words 

  • Group them by meaning 

  • Explain your groups in the blank space (in just 1 of the words)

All American Boys Reading Time

Day 14

Writing time: Write about a time a story or rumor travelled around school quickly. What was the story about? Why did people care about the story so much? (If you can’t think of a story, just make up a fictional story.) Make sure to avoid sentence fragments and to capitalize individual “I”. (150 words)

Vocabulary: Quiz day (paid product)

Start "Monday" Work

Day 15


All American Boys 

Day 16


  • Check to see that Monday vocabulary charts are filled in 

  • Play a round of Pictionary w. volunteer students

Introduce students to the artists alluded to in All American Boys.

Artist Journal: Did you like any of the art or comics that we talked about today? Why or why not? Are you an artist in any way, shape, or form? How is art helping Rashad in All American Boys? How does art help society? (150-200 words)

All American Boys Reading Time

  • Review characters on loose leaf

  • Listen to "Rashad-Monday"

Day 17


  • On your own or with a partner, write a story using 10 of your vocabulary words. Submit to Canvas. (20-30 minutes)

All American Boys Background Knowledge

Rashad is going to talk a little bit about his art in this section. To understand more of what he is saying, do the following: 

All American Boys Reading Time

Day 18

Vocabulary Pictures

  • Give each student one of the "Monday" vocabulary words.

  • Have each student take a picture of something that represents their word & submit their picture with an explanation of it to Canvas.

  • Go through the submissions as a class as review


  • Give practice vocabulary quiz (paid product)

All American Boys Reading Time

Homework: Study for short "Monday" reading quiz.

Day 19

Reading Quiz


  • Give real vocabulary quiz (paid product)


  • Video: All American Boys is going to start talking about different types of protest. One form of protest in the book is the use of graffiti. Watch this TedEd video about graffiti as protest.

  • Next, respond in writing: Some people feel graffiti is art and others feel it is vandalism. What do you think? Respond in at least 150 words.

Optional (If Time)-Graffiti-  Get a sheet of blank paper or use Google Draw or any online art program. Create a piece of graffiti that represents an issue/topic you are passionate about. “Share” it, or take a picture and email it to me. Also, text a picture of it to a friend and explain your piece of graffiti.

Day 20

Background Building

  • Have students read/listen to this article about Trayvon Martin. This article is from Newsela, a great resource if you school can afford it. The article title is "Trayvon Martin's Death is Not Forgotten, Even After 5 Years."

  • Once students are done with the article, have them complete the quiz questions on Newsela .

  • Next, have them complete the handout I created to supplement the Newsela questions: "Trayvon Martin Article Questions." I tried to focus on all of the different question types ("Right There," Think & Search," "Author & You," and "On Your Own." The handout is a bit lengthy because I had a sub for this lesson last year.

Day 21

You can tell that I started getting tired of the unit at this point and tried to pick up the pace, so there's a few days of just getting through the story and then the vocabulary & background building comes back.

All American Boys Reading Time

Day 22

All American Boys Reading Time

Day 23


Introduce All American Boys Thursday Vocabulary.

Journal: Quinn feels conflicted right now because Paul has taught him a lot about life and basketball. Write about a person who has taught you a lot about “life” or a sport. (100-150 words). 

All American Boys Reading Time

Day 24


  • Continue working on the "Thursday"vocabulary chart.

All American Boys Reading Time-Wednesday continued

  • Listen/read "Quinn-Wednesday"

  • Complete "Quinn-Wednesday Reading Questions"

Day 25


  • Continue working on the "Thursday" vocabulary chart.

All American Boys Reading Time

  • Listen to/read the 1st half of "Rashad-Wednesday"

Background Building

Day 26


  • Write a few sentences about how the YouTube video you watched at the beginning of this lesson connects to this chapter of All American Boys.


  • Continue working on Thursday vocabulary handout.

All American Boys Reading Time

Day 27

All American Boys Reading Time

Day 28


All American Boys Reading Time

Day 29

Vocabulary: Make the practice quiz.

  • Sometimes when I get behind, I assign each kid a vocabulary word and have them come up with some sentences that I turn into a quiz or practice quiz. I have them put their work on one Google Doc so that it's easy for me to track.

  • "Make the Vocab Quiz" Graphic Organizer. This organizer has the "Thursday" vocab words populated.


  • Write about a time when you were really, really afraid to do something but did it anyway. Why were you afraid? Why did you finally do the thing you were afraid of? (100-150 words) 

Background Knowledge

All American Boys Reading Time

Day 30

Background Building: Name  Research Assignment. For this assignment, I gave each kid a name from the "die-in" protest. They had to do some research and post their research on a slide in a class Google doc. This took my kids forever to do but I thought it was worth it. I had them share out their findings when they finished.

Day 31

All American Boys Reading Time

Day 32

All American Boys Reading Time

Journal: Are protests an effective response to injustice? Why or why not?

(This is a really hard prompt for kids so I would brainstorm a bit with thme before having them write.)

Socratic Seminar Preparation

Once kids understand where you are going, have them pick out a protest to study. I point students to this Wikipedia page, but it may be worthwhile to limit the list.

Have students prepare for the Seminar by filling in this "Socratic Seminar Prep"

If you have time, you can circle the kids up and do the seminar. If you have a group like mine (reluctant readers & reluctant speakers), and you haven't done a seminar before, then it will only takes about 20 minutes. If you have kids who like to talk, it could take 30-40 minutes.

I had to end the unit with the seminar because it had really been dragging on at that point, but overall I felt it was a good experience.

I hope these resources are helpful to you.

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