Lesson Overview: In this lesson, students define imagery and then identify sensory words and phrases that describe various settings in the novel and other works of literature. As a culminating assessment, students write their own descriptive settings using imagery.
“Imagery for Setting” (provided)
“Setting Excerpt” (provided)
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (or other work of literature)
“Descriptive Setting” Checklist (provided)
“Revision Sheet: Descriptive Setting” (provided)
“Setting Rubric” and “Setting Writing Score” (provided)
Make an overhead of the sheet entitled “Setting.”
Read the two examples on this sheet and ask students which one is more descriptive. Example is an excerpt from the novel When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. It is the more descriptive setting of the two examples.
Then ask students to defend their responses and explain why the setting they chose is stronger than the other.
Define sensory details.
Ask students to name the five senses (answer: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch).
Foster discussion by asking the following questions: Did the setting you chose as the more descriptive one include sensory details? Which words and phrases from the excerpts specifically appeal to a sense? Encourage students to respond with very specific answers, for example: “the wind rattled the windows” appeals to the sense of sound. You might write on the overhead during discussion to underline particularly sensory phrases.
Define the word imagery: using sensory words and phrases to paint pictures in a reader’s mind so s/he can vividly imagine what is written.
3. Track imagery for setting in the novel.
Discuss the effect of writing using imagery by asking students: Why do authors use imagery in their writing? How does it shape the novel?
ell them that they will be tracking examples of imagery in the upcoming novel or reading selection. Distribute the sheet entitled “Imagery for Setting” to each student. Explain that each time a setting is written in the novel (or for each reading selection), they are to fill in a sheet. Make extra copies of this handout and place the stack somewhere in your classroom. You can assign students certain settings or leave it to them to identify a setting and then fill in a sheet each time they read one.
Differentiation: For struggling learners, tell them which settings they are to fill in the sheets for so they are aware in advance of a reading selection. You might prepare the “Imagery for Setting” sheets for each setting by filling in some words and phrases for students and asking them to find others.
If there are three settings in a particular chapter, explain that they will have three separate sheets each dedicated to a specific setting. Instruct students to follow these guidelines for completing their imagery sheets:
Students will enter words and phrases the author uses verbatim to describe a specific setting with imagery. A phrase is anything more than a word. They are to use quotation marks to indicate these are words and phrases taken directly from the book.
If students feel the author could have added imagery to describe a specific setting, then students can also enter words and phrases that they feel augment the author’s description of a setting. These student additions are not to be in quotes.
4. Model the assignment.
Model this assignment with students by reading aloud the excerpt from Johnny Tremain (see “Setting Excerpt”) or use another excerpt from a novel your class is reading. Make an overhead of this sheet and also provide a copy to each student.
Working in pairs, have students re-read the excerpt and fill in the “Imagery for Setting” sheet. Ask them to both put their names on this sheet.
Have pairs share their entries with the class. Discuss responses and collect sheets. Note: Note how the paragraphs in the “Setting Excerpt” are correctly punctuated when multiple paragraphs are quoted – quotation marks are at the beginning of each paragraph, but only at the end of the entire excerpt.
“Imagery for Setting”: Review the settings that students entered on their “Imagery for Setting” sheets and assess on accuracy, selection of author’s words and phrases, and the content of their own words and phrases. You can assess both the pair work completed during modeling and also the individual sheets students will complete throughout the reading of the novel.
As a final assessment, students create their own paragraph of a historical setting that would compliment Johnny Tremain or another historical novel. They would invent this setting using the historical framework they have learned through reading about this time period and also through their understanding of the novel. OR, students merely write a setting that would compliment the setting of any novel that is read in class. This exercise would serve a dual purpose of checking for understanding about the novel and about imagery.
Review the “Descriptive Setting” checklist with students so they are clear on the writing assignment. You might even share with them the “Setting Rubric” to show the differentiation between scores and how you will be assessing them. The “Descriptive Setting” checklist is written for either an assignment that involves a setting that is historical or one that is not.
Then, instruct students to complete the “Imagery for Setting” for pre-writing. Encourage students to use selected sensory words and phrases they recorded on their “Imagery for Setting” sheets throughout the unit to enhance their use of imagery. Caution them not to overuse author’s words, though, but to punctuate their writing with specific sensory words.
Once finished with their first drafts, students self-assess against the two-page “Revision Sheet: Descriptive Setting” and revise their papers, as needed. After revision, instruct them to give their revised papers to a peer and have the peer read and complete the “Revision Sheet: Descriptive Setting.” Both writer and reviewer use the same revision sheet, so make a double class set of copies. Let students know before they write that they will be completing this revision sheet as will a peer. This will encourage students to have accountability to write a piece that reflects their personal best. Students revise again based on peer review.
Collect papers and score them against the “Setting Rubric” and record scores on the sheet entitled “Setting Writing Score.”
Differentiation. For struggling learners, use one or more of these modifications: 1) provide students with a list of sensory words and phrases that they can use to write their historical or other settings or write these words onto the brainstorming “Imagery for Setting” brainstorming sheet; 2) provide students with detailed pictures of historical or other settings to use as a guide for writing; 3) assist them in choosing an historical or other setting as the topic for their paper; 4) select specific line items on the rubric to focus on for assessment.
Which setting is more descriptive: A or B? “All through October the days were still warm, like summer, but at night the mercury dropped and in the morning the sagebrush was sometimes covered with frost. Twice in one week there were dust storms. The sky turned suddenly gray and then a hot wind came screaming across the desert, churning up everything in its path. From inside the barracks the boy could not see the sun or the moon or even the next row of barracks on the other side of the gravel path. All he could see was dust. The wind rattled the windows and doors and the dust seeped like smoke through the cracks in the roof and at night he slept with a wet handkerchief over his mouth to keep out the smell. In the morning, when he woke, the wet handkerchief was dry and in his mouth there was the gritty taste of chalk.”
“When I walked outside, I saw a lot of white snow. I expected it to be cold, and it was. The snowman still was standing. I thought that maybe the snow would melt in the afternoon and I could stay outside longer since it might not be so cold. But I wouldn’t know for sure until the afternoon would come. In the meantime, I would go to school and stare out the window at the many winter sights wishing I could be rolling in the snow and throwing snowballs at friends. Maybe school will go quickly and the teacher will plan something fun for us all to do.”
“On rocky islands gulls woke. Time to be about their business. Silently they floated in on the town, but when their icy eyes sighted the first dead fish, first bits of garbage about the ships and wharves, they began to scream and quarrel.
“The cocks in Boston back yards had long before cried the coming of the day. Now the hens were also awake, scratching, clucking, laying eggs.
“Cats in malt houses, granaries, ship holds, mansions and hovels caught a last mouse, settled down to wash their fur and sleep. Cats did not work by day.
“In stables horses shook their halters and whinnied.
“In barns cows lowed to be milked.
“Boston slowly opened its eyes, stretched, and woke. The sun struck in horizontally from the east, flashing upon weathervanes – brass cocks and arrows, here a glass-eyed Indian, there a copper grasshopper – and the bells in the steeples cling-clanged, telling the people it was time to be up and about.”
excerpt from Johnny Tremain, pg. 1
Write the SETTING here:
What words and phrases describe SOUNDS in this place?
What words and phrases describe what you TASTE at this place?
What words and phrases describe what you SMELL in this place?
What words and phrases describe what you can TOUCH at this place?
What words and phrases describe what you SEE in this place?
IMAGERY for SETTING
Write about an historical or other setting using as much imagery as you can. Use this Checklist to guide you while writing.
I use the same point of view throughout my paper.
I know why I am writing (purpose) and to whom I am writing (audience).
I write complete sentences so there are no fragments.
I have no run-on sentences.
My sentences begin in different ways.
I use a variety of sentence types.
Ideas/Content and Organization and Word Choice
I write about an historical or other setting that compliments the novel and is accurate.
I have one clear main idea and stay on-topic.
I write at least one paragraph. I correctly indent.
I begin my paragraph(s) with a topic sentence.
I include specific and interesting details about this place.
I include imagery by writing that focuses on the senses: taste, touch, smell, see, and hear.
I write descriptive adjectives and nouns and verbs.
My ending is complete and does not repeat the beginning.
I include an original title.
I spell all words correctly. I use the dictionary for words
I don’t know how to spell.
I use correct punctuation throughout my paper.
I capitalize appropriate letters.
My sentences make sense and do not have grammar
My writing is legible. It looks like I took good care of my paper because it is neat, too.