Durham public schools 2012-2013 unit 6 plan for 7th grade content area

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Unit Overview:



Instructional Time: 6 weeks

Grade Level: 7th Grade

Unit Theme: Literature Reflects Life: Making Sense of Our World

Depth of Knowledge: Level 3, Strategic Thinking

Unit Summary: In this unit, students will read and analyze examples of literature from its early beginnings to modern times in order to determine whether it is a reflection or distortion of life. They will gather evidence as they read to support their final essay on this topic. Along they way, they will read folktales, sonnets, excerpts from Shakespeare, rich poetry, animal stories and modern short stories. They will write narratives based on family stories, short responses to questions, a suspense tale, and persuasive/argumentative essays. They will hear and respond to authentic storytellers, radio broadcast and poetry set to music. Students will examine how theme is developed in literature and how point of view can change theme. Students will learn about building suspense and write a short, suspenseful tale. The unit will culminate in a discussion of student-written responses to the essential questions, especially their supported opinion on whether literature is a reflection or a distortion of real life.

Note: Many references in this unit are from the Holt Elements of Literature First Course text book. Page numbers are the same in both the Teacher Edition (TE) and the student edition.

North Carolina Information and Technology Essential Standards:


Use appropriate technology tools and other resources to access information.


Use appropriate technology tools and other resources to organize information (e.g. graphic organizers, databases, spreadsheets, and desktop publishing).


Use appropriate technology tools and other resources to design products to share information with others (e.g. multimedia presentations, Web 2.0 tools, graphics, podcasts, and audio files).

Common Core State Standards

Reading Standards for Literature:

Key Ideas and Details


Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

Reading Standards for Literature:

Craft and Structure


Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning.


Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.

Reading Standards for Literature:

Integration of Knowledge

and Ideas


Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or camera focus and angles in a film).

Reading Standards for Literature:

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity


By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 6–8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Writing Standards:

Text Type and Purposes


Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

a. Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

b. Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

c. Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), reasons, and evidence.

d. Establish and maintain a formal style.

e. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.


Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

a. Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.

b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.

c. Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence and signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another.

d. Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.

e. Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events.

Writing Standards:

Production and Distribution of Writing


Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)


With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grade 7 on page 52.)


Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.

Writing Standards:

Research to Build and Present Knowledge


Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.


Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

a. Apply grade 7 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres [e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories] in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics”).

b. Apply grade 7 Reading standards to literary nonfiction (e.g., “Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not”).


Writing Standards:

Range of Writing


Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Speaking and Listening Standards:

Comprehension and Collaboration


Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher- led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

a. Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.

b. Follow rules for collegial discussions, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.

c. Pose questions that elicit elaboration and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant observations and ideas that bring the discussion back on topic as needed.

d. Acknowledge new information expressed by others and, when warranted, modify their own views.


Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

Speaking and Listening Standards:

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas


Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.


Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.


Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 7 Language standards 1 and 3 on page 52 for specific expectations.)

Language Standards

Conventions of Standard English


Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

a. Explain the function of phrases and clauses in general and their function in specific sentences.

b. Choose among simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences to signal differing relationships among ideas.

c. Place phrases and clauses within a sentence, recognizing and correcting misplaced and dangling modifiers.*


Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

a. Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives (e.g., It was a fascinating, enjoyable movie but not He wore an old[,] green shirt).

b. Spell correctly.

Language Standards

Knowledge of Language


Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

a. Choose language that expresses ideas precisely and concisely, recognizing and eliminating wordiness and redundancy.*
Language Standards

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use


Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 7 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

a. Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

b. Use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., belligerent, bellicose, rebel).

c. Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech.

d. Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).


Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

a. Interpret figures of speech (e.g., literary, biblical, and mythological allusions) in context.

b. Use the relationship between particular words (e.g., synonym/antonym, analogy) to better understand each of the words.

c. Distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions) (e.g., refined, respectful, polite, diplomatic, condescending).


Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Bold standards notate Power Standards that are heavily weighted on Standardized Tests.

Italicized and Bold indicates the standard is both a Gap and a Power Standard.)

Essential Question(s):

  • Is literature a reflection or distortion of real life?

  • Why study literature?

  • What, if anything, can literature teach us about life?

  • What value does older literature have in modern times?

  • What, if any, lessons can we learn about human nature from stories with non-human characters?

  • How does literature help us make sense of our lives?

Enduring Understanding(s):

  • Fiction can be a reflection of life.

  • Learning good discussion techniques is important for school and life.
  • Developing convincing arguments is helpful in the real world.

  • Mastering formal English is essential to academic and many real-world successes.

  • Understanding and using the writing process can improve my writing.

  • Literature can help us make sense or our lives.

I Can Statement(s) (These are only a few suggested targets. They may need to be broken down further. )

  • I can support my opinion with evidence from literature.

  • I can find the theme of a literary work.

  • I can explain how the form of a poem helps the reader understand its meaning.

  • I can compare different versions of a story or poem.

  • I can write narratives with good details and realistic dialogue.

  • I can contribute to a class or group discussion.

  • I can show that I understand formal English in my writing and speaking.









Dangling modifier

Transdisciplinary Connections (Standards would be listed):

7.C.1.2 Social Studies Explain how cultural expressions (e.g. art, literature, architecture and music) influence modern society.

Evidence of Learning (Formative Assessment):

  • Essays/writing

  • Exit tickets assessments

  • Participation on discussions

  • Written responses

  • Rubrics

  • Durham Public Schools’ Small Goal Assessment

Summative Assessment:

  • Final essay

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Unit Implementation:

Week 1: World Folktales and Legends (CCSS RL.7.1, RL.7.2, RL.7.5, W.7.3, SL, 7.1, SL 7.5, L.7,4)
  • Introduction to this unit: Warm up writing prompt-This year we have studied a variety of literature. [You may need to list some the books and stories you have read.] What were some of the themes or life lessons that you remember from the literature we have read as a class or you have read independently? Allow students to respond to the prompt. Their responses will serve as a basis for the class discussion. In the discussion, create a class chart on large paper to list the lessons brought up in discussion.) As you complete your list, discuss if these are lessons that the students might find important now or in the future. Explain that in this final literature unit, students will make evaluations and conclusions on whether literature reflects or distorts life. You could talk about reflections and distortions here—make a connection to fun house mirrors or use picture features on a camera to distort images. Do we get an accurate picture about life through literature? During the unit, we will take a quick walk through time in literature, beginning with folktales that were passed down orally and ending with selections from our current day. We will track major plot events as well as the themes and lessons from the literature we read.

  • Review the protocols of group discussions (see SL 7.1) with the class in order to prepare them for the group discussions over the coming weeks.

  • Story telling-Explain what a folktale is. Read pertinent parts of pages 696-697 in Holt Textbook and discuss features about folktales and storytelling. Storytelling is a valued talent! Share this website with the class to show how much money storytellers in our area can make. Go to: The Call of the Story, a program that features 6 story tellers. As a class, watch the show beginning at minute 1:00 through minute 1:45. The story tellers list 6 reasons for story telling. See worksheet for text version and activities. Discuss how these apply to all literature. Listen to the first two wonderful stories by Donald Davis (a North Carolinian) called “That’s what mamas do” from minute 2:17- until about 10:30 or the second story by Rex Ellis’s story called “My Dad the Healer” a great story about what makes a man (in this case an African American man). It starts at minute 20 and is about 8 minutes long. If possible, share a family story that has been passed down in your family. Discuss what makes a good story. Give the assignment for students to talk to their family or older friends (even another teacher or coach if need be) to learn a family story. Have the students take careful notes because they will be writing the story in narrative form to share with the class. Exit ticket: How can passing on stories help us learn about life?
  • International folktales: Explain that as stories got passed down over time, people added details to make the story better. Sometimes they added magical or supernatural events. In early times, cultures wrote myths to explain natural events. Assign groups of 3 to read and discuss folktales or myths from different countries. Assign each group member a role. (Roles are Event tracker-records key events in the story, Supernatural event tracker-records things that is beyond the laws of nature (ie. Supernatural events), Lesson Tracker-records important lessons the story teaches. Model what the jobs look like. Groups read their stories and do their jobs. Groups share stories with the class. Suggested stories from text include: “The Crane Wife” (Japan) p, 719, Aunty Misery (Puerto Rican) p. 727, and Master Frog (Vietnam), p. 708. There are others in the book or use this resource to select other stories. Many are from countries the students study in Social Studies and the native countries of our students. As the students share their stories, begin a class spreadsheet or chart called Literary Reflections. Label the columns: Story, Key Events, Other Details (this might include things that couldn’t happen in real life), and Life Lessons. [Here is a sample spreadsheet. Be sure to download it and save a copy. If you don’t, your changes will become part of the document that everyone uses!] You will be using this chart throughout the unit. You might want students to keep an individual chart, too. They will need it for the final paper/discussion. Complete an entry on the chart for each folktale.

  • Mini lesson on root words-See Holt text book page 651-653.

  • Students write their family story (from homework assignment on the first day) using the writing standards for narratives. Share with class through presentations, online blogs, or printed versions. Use W.7.3 to teach student the components of narrative writing. Use a rubric to score essays. Share rubric prior to writing. Students could also use http://voicethread.com/ to record the stories. Another idea is to record their family member sharing the story and use the video as part of their narrative.

  • Mini lesson on transition words. (to help in writing)

  • Divide class into groups of six to read “The Dream of Good Fortune” (Holt page 768) Discuss how the form of drama helps make this story more interactive and interesting. Add the information for this story to your Literary Reflections spreadsheet.

  • If you don’t want to study folktales this week, you could do similar work with the Arthurian stories in the textbook: King Arthur: The Sword in the Stone, 718; Merlin and the Dragons, 820; and Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady, 833.

Week 2: Shakespeare on Love (CCSS RL.7.1, RL.7.2, RL.7.5, RL.7.7, SL.7.1, SL. 7.4, L.7.1)
  • Do a KWL chart on Shakespeare. Then give background on Shakespeare through this engaging and Brief video of his life. (Alternate video.) Talk about who he was, what types of things he wrote, and why he is still important today. You could add to KWL chart after watching the video. One of Shakespeare’s major themes, found especially often in his sonnets, was love. Ask: What could you leave behind that would tell people 400 years from now how much you loved someone? Share the lyrics to current songs about love. Talk about how the lyrics compliment the beloved. Ask how enduring the lyrics are. Will they make sense 20 years from now? 100? 400? Introduce the sonnet format. Use worksheet to read and analyze Sonnet 18: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” to the class while they follow along. Discuss the vocabulary, the metaphors, the twist, and the couplet at the end. Use vocabulary skills, including context clues and resources, to understand unfamiliar vocabulary words. Discuss what “this” refers to in the couplet and how this poem will make his beloved live forever. Add this work to your literary reflection chart. Now, listen to a version of the poem online. How does this help you understand the sonnet better? Writing assignment: How does the sonnet format help Shakespeare’s message? Enrichment: Have students analyze another sonnet using the template for sonnets. Exit ticket: List at least 3 characteristics of a sonnet.

  • Read excerpts from famous Shakespeare scenes to look for themes and problems featured in his works. Two suggestions are excerpts from Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet. Each of these worksheets contains the actual words and a paraphrased version (still higher level text) to aid in understanding. There are also questions and discussion points on the worksheets. You will need to select vocabulary prior to reading for students to study. Once you have read the scenes together, talk about the common themes in them. Add the information to the Literary Reflections chart. Have students work in groups to create Glogs representing the themes of one of the speeches/scenes.

  • Discussion: Should middle school students study Shakespeare? Show this video. Have students evaluate how effective the arguments in the video are. Have students decide whether you should or should not study Shakespeare in middle school. You could use this as a debate topic. Students could create podcasts or videos similar to the one viewed.

  • Continue guiding your students toward determining whether literature is a true or distorted reflection of life.

Week 3: Annabel Lee and the Highwayman: Poems of (Un)dying Love (CCSS RL.7.1, RL.7.2, RL.7.5, RL.7.7, W.7.1, W.7.4, W.7.5, W.7.6, W.7.8, W.7.9, SL, 7.1, SL 7.3, SL 7.6, L.7.2, L.7.3, L.7.5)
  • Annabel Lee: Background information on Edgar Allan Poe. Go to the Poe webquest. Print out the Webquest worksheet. Have students go to the website and complete Task 1. Have students complete Task 1. (You can decide whether to require the 3 paragraph biographical sketch described at the end of the task.) Click on Task 2 and complete Activity 1. Have them look at the list of words and then view this ppt. They should write the definitions of the words based the ppt, then check the online dictionary resource mentioned in Task 2 Part 2. Discuss the definitions. Then read Annabel Lee together as a class. You can find many versions of the poem on Youtube that may be helpful. For example, this is Stevie Nicks singing it. This is video of the poem. Complete the rest of Task 2 on the webquest (summarizing the stanzas) and the other activities. Discuss Annabel Lee. Look at the rhyme scheme, the repetition , the internal rhyme, and how the rhythm and alliteration mimic the waves of the ocean. Talk about how poets use form to enhance their message. Discuss the theme of the poem. Is it realistic? Refer back to the Anticipation Guide for discussion starters. Use this information to add to the Literary Reflection chart. Share the modern versions of the poem that the students write. (This exercise could take 2 class periods)

  • Other resources for Annabel Lee: The poem as a ballad conversation and reading with analysis. (From Poetry Outloud)

  • The Highway Man—Use this resource to introduce this poem (poem also found in the textbook). Complete activities 1, 3, and 4 of the resource. Give each student a stanza to perform as the class reads the poem aloud. Practice with students so that they are sure of the words. (Especially the onomatopoeia words!) Have students share their responses the final journal question: Did Bess make a wise choice in sacrificing herself for her love? Why or why not? Evaluate each others’ arguments. (These activities could take 2 or more days.) Discuss the theme and message of the poem and add to your Literary Reflection chart.

  • Other activities: Write a prose version of The Highwayman from Tim or Bess’s point of view. Discuss how this changes the theme or message of the poem. Create blog entries for Bess beginning before the poem and ending just before the soldiers come to her house. Write editorials for and against the actions of the Highwayman. Use the standards for good argumentative writing. Have students compare and contrast Annabel Lee and Shall I Compare Thee. Both are love poems. Look at other poems that use rhythm to enhance the meaning of the poem such as Dickinson’s “I love to see it lap the miles.”

  • Complete a mini lesson on coordinating adjectives. Use this website and have students complete activity 1f. Have students write sentences with coordinating adjectives about Annabel Lee and The Highwayman. Share with the class to check for correct punctuation.

  • There are other activities on both poems in the Holt textbook.
  • Continue guiding your students toward determining whether literature is a true or distorted reflection of life.

Week 4: Surprise Endings (CCSS RL.7.1, RL.7.5, RL.7.7, W.7.3, W.7.4, W.7.5, W.7.6, W.7.8, W.7.9, SL.7.1, , L.7.4, L.7.5)

  • Introduction to students: This week we will read stories with twists at the end. Are there twists in real life?

  • Writing prompt: Write about a time in your life when events turned out very differently than you expected. (It would be good if the teacher could share personal examples here. Have students share their responses.

  • Two suggested stories from the textbook are by O. Henry. He led a very interesting life that the students might enjoy studying. Biography or read page 361 in text.
  • After Twenty Years” page 356. Discuss in small groups: Imagine that you've graduated from high school and you and your best friend agreed to meet in a particular place and time twenty years later. You show up and anticipate seeing him/her again. How will your lives have changed? Have groups share their answers. Use the activity on page 356 to discuss point of view. As you read, consider the point of view of the story. Have students complete this mini lesson on clauses that is linked to this story.(It is about the third worksheet in the pdf) Read the story. Do the activities suggested in the textbook or at this website. Have students answer or discuss questions on page 362—esp. question 4 involving theme and question 5. Have students respond to question 5 in writing with supporting details. The final writing question is another good discussion or writing prompt. Discuss the irony in the story. (See situation irony information in Teacher Edition on page 360.) View these student versions of the story. (Version 1 and Version 2). Compare and contrast all three versions. Add the information about the story to the Literary Reflections chart.

  • Hearts and Hands” page 239. Do introductory exercises about theme on page 238. Trace the development of theme through the story. Use the reading prompts in the teacher’s manual, especially the final one on page 242. Go back through the story and find evidence to support the theme. Would the theme be different without the twist at the end? Complete activities on pages 244. Compare and contrast the 2 O. Henry stories. Are the twists at the end convincing? Why or why not? Add the information about the story to the Literary Reflections chart.

  • Charles” page 297. Pre-teach any vocabulary words in the story. Since this story is older, some familiar vocabulary words have different meanings: fresh, rubbers, institution. Discuss denotation and connotation. During reading, have students express an opinion on the types of punishments that Charles received the first week of school. Read the story and discuss the ending. Have students infer what the ending means. Is the surprise ending realistic? Add the information about the story to the Literary Reflections chart. Other lesson plan ideas. Add the information about the story to the Literary Reflections chart.

  • Dinner Party” page 118. A very short short story (just over 1 page) with an ironic ending. This would be another opportunity to discuss the meaning of irony. Other points of discussion for the story from the Teacher Edition: How does the American’s observant, knowledgeable, and controlled nature affect the plot? How do the hostess’es instructions to the servant advance the plot? What events foreshadow the ending of the story?
  • After you have completed reading stories with a twist, discuss whether they are a reflection of real life. Are there twists in real life? Do events in life always turn out as expected? Some critics argued that O. Henry’s twists made his stories unbelievable. Do you agree or disagree? Show evidence from the stories to support your opinions.

  • Continue guiding your students toward determining whether literature is a true or distorted reflection of life.

Week 5: Animal Tales from the 1900’s (CCSS RL.7.1, RL.7.2 RL.7.7, W.7.3, W.7.4, SL.7.1, SL.7.6,, L.7.1, L.7.4)

This week students will read texts about animals. As they read, they will again be trying to find evidence to support their opinion on whether literature is a reflection or a distortion of real life.

  • Three Skeleton Key page 39. (Also in the Adapted Reader.) Quick Write-Write for 5 minutes on “My most terrifying experience.” Have students share their paragraphs. As you begin to read, discuss how authors or movie makes build suspense. You may want to show some suspenseful parts of movies. Show this powerpoint and allow students to make predictions about the story. See lesson plans below under Scaffolding Option 1: Intervention for using this story with below grade level students. Discuss foreshadowing. Trace foreshadowing through the story. Do the preview activity on page 39 of the Teacher Edition. Look at character development. Use other reading activities in the Teacher Edition. How is setting important to the story? Track the events in the story using a Lighthouse Log (see page 50) Complete vocabulary activities on page 51. Discuss whether the human reactions in the story are realistic. Review the ending. Would you have made the same choices that the narrator did? What is the theme of the story? You might want to listen to part of Vincent Price reading the story on the radio. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Add the information about the story to the Literary Reflections chart.
  • Have students write a round robin suspense story using foreshadowing. Employ the standards outlined for good narrative writing. Resources for teaching suspense writing: Resource 1, Resource 2

  • Rikki-Tikki-Tavi page 14. (Also in Adapted Reader) Complete a Probable Paragraph-using key vocabulary terms from the story prior to reading the story. During reading, practice summarizing and retelling the story at the spots indicated in the text. Read the story together as a class up until and including Rikki’s first confrontation with Nag and Nagaini (see notes in TE 15). Allow advance learners to finish story independently. Read the story with the rest of the class. Complete “Writing, Expressing your opinion” on page 30 and vocabulary activities on page 31. Answer question 6 (page 30) in writing. “Did Rikki’s conflicts with the deadly garden bullies remind you of your own experiences? Is this an accurate portrayal of bullies and reaction to bullies? What other connections can you make between the animal behaviors in the book and human behavior? What is the message of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi? What evidence do you see of theme development through the story? This website has great during and after reading activities. You may want to show portions of a cartoon version of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi that is about 30 minutes long. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Add the information about the story to the Literary Reflections chart.

  • Grammar mini lessons: Complete activity on differentiating between phrases and clauses. Then have groups of look for sentences containing either phrases or clauses in the story. Have groups create a list of 10 sentences with phrases or clauses underlined Exchange sentences with other groups and have them identify whether the underlined words are phrases or clauses. Discuss the responses. Other activities: Misplaced modifiers. Complex sentences.

  • Continue guiding your students toward determining whether literature is a true or distorted reflection of life.

Week 6: Our time and Conclusions (CCSS RL.7.1, RL.7.2 RL.7.10, W.7.4, W.7.5, W.7.6, W.7.8, W.7.9, W.7.10, SL.7.1, SL.7.4, SL.7.6, L.7.2, L.7.3, L.7.6)

During the final week of the unit, students will read a short story set in current times. They will also make final judgments on whether literature reflects or distorts real life.
  • Story: User Friendly, page 272. Complete pre-reading activities on page 271 to activate students’ prior knowledge. For example: you might start with a quick write or a discussion on the character traits of someone who says, “My best friend is a computer.” Another option is to divide the class into groups and give a discussion topic related to the story to each group. There is also good information about how to trace the development of theme through a story. Use the cause and effect graphic organizer to trace events in the story. Have students look over the text of the story and see what they notice. (They should see that certain parts of the story are written in a green font. Discuss why the author might do that. Read the story as a class or in groups. Complete the character chart shown on page 275 of the TE. Discuss how the responses the computer gives Kevin changes over time. When do they begin to reveal that the computer has a personality of its own? Examine the idioms in the story. Though this was written fairly recently, some idioms may not be common now to our students. (Activity on idioms on page 283) Analyze the allusion to the Browning poem “How do I love thee?” in the last page of the story. Copy the chart on pg 281 of the TE and have students describe the relationships between the characters. Select appropriate questions from page 282, especially number 5 which asks students to compare this work to “The Highwayman” and “Annabel Lee.” Add the information about the story to the Literary Reflections chart.

  • Have students refer to group or individual Literary Reflections chart. Discuss the texts you have read during this unit. Look at the lessons the texts have taught. Post the the 6 statements from the storytellers from week 1.

  1. (“Storytelling is the way we take care of relationships with one another.”

  2. Storytelling is the way we honor the memory of those who came before.”

  3. Storytelling is a photo of where we have been and maybe a map of where we might go.”

  4. ...Storytelling is about being fully human.”

  5. Storytelling is the surest way home.”

  6. My story is not yours, but I’ll bet you’ll see yourself in it.”

Apply these questions to the works you have studied in this unit and this year. Have the students seen themselves in any of the stories they have read or heard? Direct students ponder the question: “Does literature reflect or distort real life?” individually. Write down their thoughts. They might want to use one of the above quotes as a starting point. Then discuss in groups or pairs. Have students write group or individual responses to the question, citing evidence from the stories they have read. (They should use their literary reflection charts for supporting details.) Use the writing process to edit and publish the works. Peer edit. Allow students to analyze each other’s arguments. Students can publish the works online or create podcasts. (Example of the beginning of an essay on the topic.)
  • On the final day of the unit, have a group seminar discussion on the question. Have students facilitate the discussion. Follow the standards of group discussions. Synthesize a group statement regarding literature as a reflection/distortion of life. (Questions could include: Why study literature? What, if anything, can literature teach us about life? What value does older literature have on the modern day? What, if any, lessons can we learn about human nature from stories with non-human characters? How does literature help us make sense of our lives?)

Supportive Unit Resources: (Please note that these are resources that can be used to supplement instruction before or during a lesson.)

Scaffolding Option 1:


Scaffolding Option 2:


Scaffolding Option 3:


Instructional Activities:

(CCSS W.7.1)

Finding Cinderella I

Compare and contrast how Dinorella (page 758) is similar to or different from a traditional version of Cinderella. Cite evidence from the story in your essay.

Use a Venn Diagram to brainstorm, then write a paragraph on how they are alike and a paragraph on how they are different.

(CCSS RL.7.10)

Three Skeleton Keys

lesson plans for below grade level students.


Three Skeleton Keys powerpoint

(CCSS RL.7.7, W.7.3)

Finding Cinderella II

There are over 900 versions of Cinderella stories. Scholars have traced the earliest tales back more than 900 years. (See page 382 in Holt Text.) Read the Cinderella stories in the textbook (Yeh-Shen, page 383, Aschenputtel, page 747, Dinorella, page 758, and the poem “Interview” page 764. Watch Cinderella based movies. Compare and contrast the versions you read. Write a Cinderella story set in your middle school.

(CCSS W.7.1, W.7.4)

O. Henry Extensions

O. Henry quotes: Use these quotes as starting points for discussion or writing assignments. From text page 243 “I would like to live a lifetime on each street in New York. Every house has a drama in it.” Is there a story in every house? Write a story that you find around you. See activity on page 361 of the Teacher Edition- Differentiation Instruction. Quote 2, “The short story is a potent medium of education.... It should break prejudice with understanding. I propose to send the down and outers (who he often wrote about) in to the [living] rooms of the get-it-alls.” What does this mean? How does this support or dispute the premise that literature is a reflection of life?

Three Skeleton Key- Morse code activity on page 48 of TE.

Technology Integration: (Please note that these are resources that can be used to supplement instruction before or during a lesson.)

Multimedia Activities:

(CCSS W.7.1. W.7.3, W.7.4)

Use with any writing assignment

Brainstorm ideas for your writing by using this resource. You will need to sign-up for an account.


Use your brainstorming to create your essay or narrative.

Create a comic book version of your personal narrative/


(CCSS SL.7.4)

Creating Podcast

Use the DPS Ed-Tech help to develop podcasts of the final student essays. Have other students listen and respond to the podcasts. Directions.

Interactive Romeo and Juliet

This interactive website will help students understand better. Select Romeo and Juliet, find the correct Act and Scene. Click on the interactive buttons to hear, read and view the script as well as background information. http://www.canadianshakespeares.ca/folio/folio.html

(CCSS W.7.6)

Multimedia Reflections

Do online research to support your final essay. Find and cite sources as evidence. Create a multimedia presentation to present your claims. Use pictures and graphics to enhance your presentation. Post your work on a blog. Try Sliderocket for your presentation.

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