How can I analyze a story and use the information gained to write about an experience from the perspective of a character in that story?
ELACC4RL3. Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
ELACC4W3. Write a narrative to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
Brief overview of lesson:
The students will read about a real unsolved mystery to draw some conclusions about what really happened to the characters of the mystery. They will then write a narrative from the perspective of one of those characters.
The book The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery From History (enough copies for a small group)
Pre-assessment: (How did you know who would benefit from a differentiated lesson plan? How did you determine that this lesson was well-suited to that student’s / those students’ needs?)
This lesson was designed for students with strong reading and analytical skills as well as those who are deemed to be strong writers (identified through previous writings using the Cobb Co. rubric) This lesson will meet the needs of those students who can strongly identify with characters through analysis of a story, and will allow them a creative way to give the thoughts and feelings of that character.
Formative/Summative Assessment Plan: (What will students know/ be able to do as a result of this lesson? How will you measure student learning and application of this lesson?)
The students will analyze a story by using the questioning strategy and the Socratic Seminar.
The students will analyze a theory by completing an organizer in order to solve the mystery.
See the writing rubric for scoring of the final product.
Day 1: The teacher and small group of students will gather in a small group and the teacher will review how to ask questions while reading and use sticky notes to record questions and how to move them to corresponding page if the question in answered. The students will read the story and use the questioning strategy.
Day 2: The teacher and students will regroup and go through several pages using the Socratic Seminar and will let the students take the lead to ask the questions from their sticky notes. This will spark deeper thinking into the mystery of the story and will provide others’ perspectives. The students will then use a theory either fostered by the book or one never before thought of (must not refute the facts from the book) to complete the plus / minus organizer and thereby identify how strong the theory is.
Day 3-4: The teacher will review what character perspective means, and will write a brief journal entry from the perspective of her dog. The small group of students will then use the book, their questions, and the plus/minus rubric to become one of the actual characters in the story and tell what really did happen to the people of the Mary Celeste (a ship that disappeared in1872). The students will need to make sure they utilize the facts learned from the book in order to maintain accuracy and tell the story from the perspective of one of the characters on the Mary Celeste.
The students will share their stories about what really happened to the Mary Celeste.
Reflection on this lesson: (What aspects worked particularly well? How would you improve this lesson? What were some “Ah-Ha” moments?)
The students really loved this story. When I told them that I found 2 more books in this series, they asked when we would be reading them. (I only found hardbacks to the other 2, so we will do some sort of whole class tiered activity for those.) The questioning and Socratic Seminar that we held were crucial in sparking the thinking of the students, and in leading them to the questions would need to be answered in their stories. I found it very entertaining to listen to the students as they decided which character to become, whether it was Captain Briggs, Sarah (the wife), or Sophia (the daughter). I think that in the future, I may use this book with a group, and have the students timeline the events of the story (this would work better for students who are strong readers, but who have more basic writing skills).
The student reviews came back very positive and they all felt challenged. I even had the 5th grade gifted/certified teacher say that she would like to use this lesson. I consider that a great compliment, and affirmation that I did well with this one.
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