Ms. Kamburov 10 th

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Short bell ringer quiz to assess completion of reading assignment (suggested pages 1-25) followed by short discussion of quote from the reading in “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, such as this one from page 14:

"Apart from sleep, the only time a prisoner lives for himself is ten minutes in the morning at breakfast, five minutes over dinner, and five at supper.”

  1. What is the character Ivan referring to here?

  2. Why does he say he is imprisoned?

Main activity

Listen to 4 minute podcast overviewing the Gulag camps from ITunes U, entitled “Gulag Memory,” and use group discussions of camp experiences.

  • Play the podcast “Gulag Memory” for students to listen.

  • Place students in groups of 4 with desks facing one another and hand out copies of a prisoner’s biography to each student in each group. Vary the biographies between groups.

  • Hand out the “describing wheel” to each student in each group.

  • Instruct students to read through the biography and fill in the describing wheel with words, emotions, experiences or significant ideas they read in the biography.

  • Instruct students to share with each other their describing wheels and add to them accordingly. Give about 15 minutes for this activity.

  • Have a representative from each group share the group’s main describing wheel fills.


Lead a class word cloud to aid in reflection essay, using

  • While students share their describing wheels with the class, type out their responses into

    1. How would you describe a prisoner’s experience of the Gulags?

    2. Why were people imprisoned?

    3. Are there any similarities and/or differences in the experiences of Ivan Denisovich from the novel and the biography which your group read?

    4. Do you think that Solzhenitsyn accurately portrayed the Gulag experience?


  • Describing wheel handout available at

  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

  • Biographies of prisoners’ experiences, available at for each group.

  • “Gulag Memory” podcast, available at ITunesU for free.

  • Use to create word cloud.

  • Use the site for “The Stalin Project” to read an accurate history of the camps as a teacher resource, available at

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