V. 03 August 2010 Subject (s): English Grade: 12 Honors Term: 1 Name / Theme or Unit: Novel Study Flowers for Algernon Time Frame: 8 weeks Submitted by: Cathy Carpenter


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v. 03

August 2010

Subject (s): English Grade: 12 Honors Term: 1

Name / Theme or Unit: Novel Study - Flowers for Algernon

Time Frame: 8 weeks

Submitted by: Cathy Carpenter

OVERVIEW : Flowers for Algernon is a story of Charlie Gordon, a mentally retarded thirty-two-year-old man, who is chosen by a team of scientists to undergo an experimental surgery designed to boost his intelligence. The entire narrative of Flowers for Algernon is composed of the “progress reports” that Charlie writes about the changes over a 9 month period as he goes from low to high and low again. The students will compare the movie "Awakenings" with the plot and story elements from the novel as well.


Content Standards and Benchmarks :

12.1. Be able to create and use analogies and apply the models learned through readings and other mediums.

12.2. Develop vocabulary in context through the use of other mediums - internet, news stories, and supplemental materials.

12.3 identify evidence (e.g., examples of diction, imagery, point of view, figurative language, symbolism, plot events, and main ideas, and characteristics) in a variety of texts representative of different genres and use this evidence as the basis for interpretation.

12.4 Make warranted and reasonable assertions about the author's arguments by using elements of the text to defend and clarify interpretations.

12.6 Compare and contrast specific characteristics of different genres as they develop and change over time for different purposes

12.7 Look at expository text and be able to understand the techniques being used by the author to present their purpose

12.8 acquire new vocabulary and use it correctly in reading and writing

12.9 Analyze the way in which the theme or meaning of a selection represents a view or comment on life, using textual evidence to support the claim.

12.10 Analyze the use of irony, tone, mood, the author's style, and the "sound" of language and be able to apply it in your own writing.

12.18 Use precise language, action verbs, sensory details, appropriate modifiers

12.19 Write texts of a length appropriate to address the topic or tell the story

12.20 Use traditional structures for conveying information (e.g., chronological order, cause and effect, order of importance, spatial, similarity and difference, and posing and answering a question)

12.21 Support statements and claims with anecdotes, descriptions, facts and statistics, and specific examples

12.24 Develop presentations by using clear research questions and creative and critical research strategies; organize information logically and systematically so it can be presented clearly

12.27 Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the significant ideas in works or passages and be able to apply those in your own writing

12.28 Analyze the use of imagery, language, universal themes, and unique aspects of the text and write a reflective piece that employs those ideas.

12.29 Support important ideas and viewpoints through accurate and detailed references to the text and to other works

12.33 Use varied levels, patterns, and types of language to achieve intended effects and aid comprehension.
12.34 Be able to present your information in a clear, concise, and creative manner using a variety of techniques and materials

12.36 Demonstrate control of grammar, diction, and paragraph and sentence structure and an understanding of English usage.

12.37 Produce legible work that shows accurate spelling and correct punctuation and capitalization.

12.38 Demonstrate understanding and control of the rules of the English language, realizing that usage involves the appropriate application of conventions and grammar in both written and spoken formats

12.39 Maintain consistent number, gender, point-of-view and verb tense

12.46 Understand and apply the appropriate techniques for gesture, movement, and vocalization, including dialect, pronunciation, and enunciation.

12.48 Critique a speaker's diction and syntax in relation to the purpose of an oral communication and the impact the words may have on the audience.

12.50 Apply several propaganda techniques in a written assignment and presentation to demonstrate ability to apply the skills and understand of their uses

12.51 Practice oral speaking skills through read alouds, individual selection preparation and readings, poetry selections, selections from speeches, or dramatic soliloquies with attention to performance details to achieve clarity, force, and aesthetic effect and to demonstrate an understanding of the meaning

12.53 Practice listening to a variety of speakers through podcasts or other sources in order to discern tone, purpose, and main idea of the presentation

12.54 Record students throughout the year in their oral performance to be able to see progress, determine areas of weakness and strength, and to set goals for improvement

12.55. Read with a rhythm, flow, and meter that sounds like everyday speech

Essential questions:

1. Is intelligence the main determining factor of someone's value or worth?

2. When do the negative consequences of an action out weigh the positive ones?

3. What are the differences between internal and external conflicts in a character?

4. What is necessary to remember and practice to have a good quality presentation?

5. How does the use of diction enhance or detract from a story presentation?

Expected language:
diction, irony, point of view, conflicts - internal and external; cliches and idioms, the use of tone and mood
Vocabulary to know: laboratory, unconscious, shrew, maroon, petition, acquire, ignorance, justified, equivalent, impaired. introspective, amnesia, lobotomy, illiterate,


List performance tasks or project, quizzes, graded assignments, prompts, etc. Include the rubrics you use to evaluate the performance tasks.

Be careful what you wish for – You just may get it Project

In the story “Flowers for Algernon” Charlie wishes he were smart like other people. His wish comes true and for a short time he is smart. Several positive events happened because of Charlie’s increase in intelligence. However, there were also negative consequences. In this project, you will name the one thing you wish for more than anything. You will then show all the positive and negative consequences of that wish if it were to come true.

For example: I wish I would win the lottery.

Positive characteristics: I wouldn’t have to worry about money (paying bills).

I could own the car I’ve always wanted (Subaru WRX).

I could have my own home instead of an apartment.

Negative characteristics: People may expect me to pay for dinner or lunch.

People may ask for money or try to con me out of the money.

I won’t know who my “real” friends are.


1.You must have a minimum of four positive characteristics and four negative characteristics of your wish.

2. You must have a picture with each characteristic. The pictures may be original artwork, pictures from magazines (periodicals) or real pictures. Create a collage of your items and characteristics and be prepared to talk about them in an oral presentation to the class.

Assessment two option:

Choose one of the following plot points and explain all the differences and similarities between the book and the film.

a. Plot Points:
1. setting
2. conflict
3. climax
4. characters
a. Ms. Kinnian
b. Dr. Strauss
c. Burt
d. Charlie
5. literary elements
a. allusion
b. irony
c. flashback
d. foreshadowing
6. resolution (ending)

Introductory paragraph – introduces your topic.

Example: There are many setting similarities and differences between the book for “Flowers for Algernon” and the film. Write one paragraph that highlights the similarities between the book and the film. Use examples!! Write one paragraph that highlights the differences between the book and the film. Use examples!!

Explain which you enjoyed more (book or film) and why. Use this final paragraph and choose ONE (either the book or the movie) and explain IN DETAIL why you enjoyed it more than the other.

Assessment Option Three:

Movie Review Project
Movie reviews are a wonderful way of evaluating movies. Regardless of the type of movie or the age of the movie, movie reviews allow people to determine whether or not they think they might like a movie before ever seeing it.
Your assignment is to write a review of a movie that you have critically viewed. You will use your notes as brainstorming, and MUST have it completed to begin writing your review. Remember: Don't be afraid to have strong opinions about a movie - just be sure you can support your views with clear reasons why the film is terrible or terrific.
Criteria: The following outline offers the basic elements that should be in your review.

_____ Title of Review (NOT the title of the movie!)

_____ Name of movie being reviewed
_____ Name of author/reviewer
_____ Four paragraph format (see below)
All reviews should be concise. Every word you write should tell your reader relevant information about the movie. They should be objective, impartial, and carefully written. When writing a movie review, be sure to not give the ending away!
Four-paragraph format
Paragraph 1: Overall Impression
Describe your initial impression of the film.

Is the film believable or realistic? What genre?

Paragraph 2: Plot
Briefly describe the plot of the movie.
Choose the three most important scenes to describe in a little more detail.
What is the conflict? Internal or external?
How is the conflict resolved? (Try to be a little vague. You don’t want to give away the whole movie.) Is the resolution satisfactory?
Paragraph 3: Acting
Describe the primary characters in the film. Are these characters realistic?
Are the characters well developed? Are the actors believable? How was their acting?
Paragraph 5: Final Comments
Should the reader watch this film or not? Support your opinion.
Is there a particular audience which would prefer the film?
What are the film’s strengths and weaknesses?
What final assessment can you make about the film?


Consider the type of knowledge (declarative or procedural) and the thinking skills students will use.


Have you ever thought about what it would be like to have an IQ of about 68? How would people treat you? How would you feel about yourself? Would you want to become "smarter"? If someone you respected came to you and told you they could make you smarter, would you take them up on their offer?

Web resources:

Start by talking about thinking, IQ, and learning styles. Have the students take the quiz and the following link and bring their results to class to share.


Share information about what a Rorschach Test is and have the students look at some examples.


Character Descriptions

Charlie Gordon -  a thirty-two-year-old mentally retarded man who lives in New York City. He works at Donner’s Bakery as a janitor and delivery boy.

Alice Kinnian -  Charlie’s teacher at the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults. Alice originally recommends Charlie for the experimental operation because she is impressed by his motivation.

Professor Harold Nemur -  The scientist in charge of the experiment that heightens Charlie’s intelligence. An arrogant and career-obsessed man, Nemur treats Charlie as a laboratory animal rather than a human being.

Dr. Strauss -  The neurologist and psychiatrist who performs the experimental operation that raises Charlie’s intelligence, and Nemur’s partner in the experiment.

Algernon -  The white mouse that is the first successful test subject for the experimental operation Charlie later undergoes. The operation makes Algernon three times as intelligent as a normal mouse and enables him to solve complex puzzles.

Rose Gordon -  Charlie’s mother, a domineering woman terribly ashamed of Charlie’s retardation. In the early part of his childhood, Rose refused to accept that Charlie was abnormal, despite her husband’s appeals for her to be rational. Rose finally had another child, Norma, on whom she focused all of her energy.

Matt Gordon -  Charlie’s father, a barbershop-supply salesman who always wanted to open his own barbershop, and eventually does. Although Matt tried to protect the young Charlie from Rose’s hostility, he gave in too easily to her bullying.

Norma Gordon -  Charlie’s younger sister, who grows up to act as caretaker for their mentally unstable mother.

Uncle Herman -  Charlie’s uncle, who took care of Charlie after Rose expelled him from her home.

Mr. Donner -  The owner of the bakery where Charlie works. A friend of Uncle Herman, Mr. Donner agreed to hire Charlie so he would not have to go to the Warren State Home upon Herman’s death. Donner gave Herman his word that he would look out for Charlie’s interests. Donner stands by his pledge faithfully and treats Charlie like family.

Have the students read through the book in class and assign sections to read at home and then be ready to discuss in class. After so many progress reports, use the discussion questions to check for reading comprehension.

Discussion Questions:

"Flowers for Algernon" Questions (Part 1, page 113)

1. Explain the roles of Dr. Strauss, Dr. Nemur, and Miss Kinnian in the experiment with Charlie.

2. How does Charlie pay his bills and rent?

3. How does a grammar book help Charlie understand what Miss Kinnian is teaching him?

4. Why does Charlie think that the factory workers are his friends?

5. What does it mean "to pull a Charlie Gordon"?

6. What is ironic about the following quotation, "I can't wait to be smart like my best friends Joe Carp and Frank Reilly."

  1. What is Charlie's IQ in the beginning of the story?

  2. Why does Charlie go to Miss Kinnian's class?

  3. What does Charlie see the first time he is given the Rorschach Test?

  4. Why is Charlie chosen for the experiment?

  5. Before the operation, what does Charlie think of Joe Carp and Frank Reilly? How do they treat him?

  6. What does it mean to "do a Charlie Gordon"?

  7. What are the differences between the two doctors?

  8. Why did Charlie have to go and stay with the neighbor?
  9. What was his mom most afraid of?

  10. What concept does Charlie learn in this section?

  11. Why doesn't he race Algernon any more?

  12. Name two things that happen to Charlie that makes him realize he is different now.

  13. Why doesn't he go to work when he has never missed a day before?

  14. What was the memory of Harriet about?

  15. What feeling is new to Charlie and it isn't necessarily a bad feeling?

Give two examples of how foreshadowing is used in this story. How do Charlie's progress reports change after the operation?

"Flowers for Algernon" Questions (Part 2, page 125)

1. What happens to Charlie as his intelligence increases?

2. Why does one worker refuse to sign the petition to fire Charlie?

3. What is Charlie's main problem in communicating with other people?

4. Why does Charlie decide to leave New York?

5. What is the theme of this story?

6. How are these quotes examples of foreshadowing?

a. "He asked me to promise...I wouldn't read any books on psychology."

b. "If they don't know what it (intelligence) is, or where it is - I don't see how they know how much of it you've got.

c. "They're (Drs. Nemur and Strauss) arguing all the time."

7.How can the reader tell that Charlie is getting smarter after the operation?

  1. Explain Charlie's feeling toward Algernon before and after the operation.

  2. What is the significance of Charlie' second outing with Joe and Frank?

  3. Why does Charlie lose his job?

  4. How do Charlie's feelings toward Miss Kinnian change throughout the story?

  5. How do Charlie's feelings toward the doctors change after the operation?

  6. Why was Charlie upset about the incident with the dishwasher?

  7. What is the Algernon-Gordon Effect?
  8. What does Charlie do when he realizes he will lose his intelligence?

  9. When Charlie returns to the factory, how do his co-workers react?

  10. How does Miss Kinnian react when Charlie returns to night school? Why?

  11. Who does Charlie blame for his loss of intelligence? Why?

  12. How does Charlie's personality change once he becomes a genius?

Final reflections

Final thoughts from the various characters. What do you think is their answer to the following question:

(December, Christmas time) I wonder what/how Charlie is doing now?
1. Dr. Nemur

2. Mrs. Kinnian

3. Fay

4. Norma

5. the guys at the bakery
Additional Tasks can be used from the FFA packet attached in the unit folder.

1. Read the realistic fictitious story, Flowers for Algernon.

2. Define the vocabulary terms using context clues from the story or using a dictionary.

Clarify the meanings with discussion. (page 2: Vocabulary)

3. Define other words that relate to the story or subject matter. (page 3: Vocabulary II)

4. Rewrite (edit) misused punctuation (page 4, Punctuation is Fun!)

5. Rewrite misspelled words correctly. (page 5, (Too) Hooked on Phonics)

6. Use stem meanings to determine word meanings. (page 6, What Do You Mean?)

7. Compare the “Smart” Charlie with “Dumb” Charlie in specific situations (page 7,

Before and After)

8. Use a Venn diagram to compare Algernon and Charlie (page 8, Venn diagram)

9. Sequence the events and changes in a journal/diary format, taking on the persona of

one of the characters. (pages 9 & 10, Journal According to…)

10. Compare the pros and cons of intelligence levels (page 11, Advantages and


11. Research and define the different types of intelligence. (page 12, Smart as a …)

12. Give examples of what types of subjects, jobs or careers relate to each intelligence

type, and parts of the body that are or could be affected by each intelligence type.

(page 13, Oh, the Possibilities!)

13. Identify the main characteristics associated with each type of intelligence. (page 14, If

the Intelligence Fits, Use It!)

14. Identify links between vocabulary words and intelligence categorizations (page 15,

Words to Describe)

15. Match famous people with their primary intelligence. (page 16, Categorically


16. Match various skills with intelligence categories (page 17, Categorically Intelligent)

17. Choose the ideal intelligence category for various situations (page 17, I Can Help)

18. Use research skills to identify the intelligence categories required by various colleges

(page 18, Entrance Requirements)

19. Use critical thinking skills and essay writing ability to answer open-ended

comprehension questions (page 19, Why Ask Why …or How?)

20. Create an “ideal” intelligent person. Think about what combination of intelligence

types would be ideal. Write about it (page 20, Creative Writing)

21. Create an advertisement persuading people to double their intelligence with the same

surgery Charlie had (page 21, Advertising Techniques, and page 22, Rubric)

22. Review comprehension and vocabulary (pages 23, 24, & 25 Test)


Advertising Techniques - talk about propaganda and the techniques to be sure the students understand them and show them examples

What are some advertising techniques that are commonly used? Think of an

advertisement for each of these techniques

1. Benefits: a. financial b. health c. beauty d. mental/physical

2. Famous Persons:

3. Testimonial:

4. Bandwagon:

5. Loaded Language: appeals to emotions and senses

6. Catchy slogan:

7. Big Words:

8. Overgeneralization:

9. Catchy situations: humor

Imagine that Charlie’s surgery has been successful… now anyone can have an

improved intelligence. How would you market this idea? Think about an

advertisement that will use some of the techniques above to persuade people

everywhere (even people who are already smart!) to have the surgery to double

their I.Q.

Where will you advertise? How will you advertise? Write a brief proposal of your

advertisement before you start.


On a separate piece of paper, create your advertisement. If you plan to use a

television ad, create a storyboard.


Movie Connection: Using the movie Awakenings, have the students compare and contrasts the similarities of the two main characters. See assessment section for additional work.

Research Writing Assessment: Students will select a brain related disorder to find out more information about, create a visual presentation, and give an oral discourse in front of the class to present their information.


Flowers For Algernon student books

Flowers for Algernon DVD

Awakening s DVD

At the end of the unit:

CURRICULUM COVERAGE: Percentage of planned curriculum that was taught and assessed ___________

REFLECTIONS: Teachers reflections on ways in which the unit might be improved, polished or enhanced. Student perspectives might be included.


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