2 Favorite Lesson Plans
I have to say I’ve been having some serious fun with my classes lately. First, reading and then seeing The Hunger Games provided the initial fun, and now my classes have continued with The Things They Carried, which has great discussion and project possibilities. I did 2 of my favorite lesson plans over the past 2 weeks, which the photos illustrate, and I’ll give a little more detail here. They can easily be adapted to various books, grade levels, and skills.
Favorite Lesson 1: The Literary Alphabet
I learned this basic lesson plan years ago, in graduate school. It is a lesson plan I usually use when I want to review a book and let the kids have some fun. Since The Hunger Games was a “fun” read I wanted to keep the activities meaningful, but also fun. The idea here is to randomly assign a letter of the alphabet to each kid. I usually write the letters on slips of paper and have the students pick out of a box. If there are more letters than students, I offer a little incentive for students to do more than one letter. I then write literary terms on the board: theme, symbolism, conflict (i.e. man vs. society, vs. self, etc), imagery, foreshadowing, irony, and several more. I also pass out crayons and paper. Since I have juniors, they know these terms and I don’t really have to review them. Then, the students have to find a quote from the book that contains a word starting with the letter they picked, and they have to apply the literary terms to the quote (analyze it). For difficult letters, like Q, X, or Z, I usually let them pick a word that just contains the letter. Once the students have found quotes, I tell them they are to write the quote on a sheet of paper, emphasizing the letter, and illustrating the quote. They also have to write a brief explanation of what the quote signifies and at the end everyone presents their letter to the class and we put our alphabet up on the wall. I find it to be a great review that appeals to a variety of learners while allowing them to connect literary elements to text using visuals. You can see our alphabet at the top of the pictures.
Favorite Lesson 2: Visual Literacy using advertisements
My students are working on a project where they are asked to research a variety of images from both the Vietnam War and a modern-day conflict of their choice and pair the images with a representative piece of prose/poetry as part of our The Things They Carried unit. The idea is to have them analyze images while also researching the circumstances that created them. Obviously, we live in a society where all of us are exposed to so many images all day, and I find that sometimes we don’t really think much about what goes into the composition of these images.
I start with a Prezi on visual literacy, teaching kids about how to look at images and what to look for, what questions to ask. Then, we pull ads out of magazines (I always bring a few magazines though I usually ask the students to bring some too) and post them around the room. I have the kids walk around the room, looking at the ads, making observations to practice what they learned about in the Prezi. Then we have a class discussion about what is in the ads. The kids really enjoy discussing them! I find that they always make interesting comments or observations as they learn how images provoke our emotions, or distort information, or apply stereotypes, etc. You can see the ads we used taped to the whiteboard. It is a lesson that gets them to analyze without much prior knowledge, and then allows them to apply the information as they begin to analyze the war images for their projects. I can hardly wait to see the projects— I am giving them a great deal of freedom as to how they present their conclusions! If anyone is interested in this project, message me with your email address and I will send you my assignment sheet.
These are the kind of posts I like to see in the education community and promoted. Original ideas, sharing teaching ideas and discussing how other people can implement them, visual and descriptive, related to student interests, and willingness to discuss further.