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Lesson Plan

Beyond the Story: A Dickens of a Party

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Beyond the Story: A Dickens of a Party

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Ten 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Patricia E. Carbone

Palmer, Massachusetts


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One

Sessions Two through Five

Sessions Six through Nine

Session Ten

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • research print and non-print sources of information, taking notes and recording bibliographic information using MLA format.

  • work collaboratively to learn more about the Victorian period and prepare for individual presentations.

  • write a character sketch and prepare for a presentation based on that character.

  • deliver a convincing first-person account assuming the persona of the character.

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Session One

  1. As you complete your discussion of A Christmas Carol with students, introduce the project that students will work on to explore the story and the Victorian period in more detail.

  2. Explain to students that Ebenezer Scrooge's nephew Fred is hosting a New Year's Day party to celebrate Scrooge's new outlook on life. The revelations of his miserly, miserable past have left Scrooge eager to learn more about those who have helped him to change. In order to accomplish this, it is necessary to understand the values and customs each character represents in Victorian society.

  3. Explain that this task will be divided into three stages: Group Investigative Roles, Individual Characterizations, and Presentations.

  4. Grades will be determined by the performance rubrics for each stage.

  5. Demonstrate how to access all the information for the WebQuest online and provide students with the URL for the resources (http://www.readwritethink.org/lesson_images/lesson238/dickens_WebQuest.html).

  6. Ask students to come to the next session prepared to begin the first stage of the WebQuest.

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Sessions Two through Five

  1. Explain that students will work on Stage 1 of the WebQuest, Group Investigative Roles.

  2. Explain that in order to connect with the people and places of Dickens' time, students will investigate four aspects of Victorian life: History, Fashion, Etiquette, and Entertainment.

  3. Divide students into groups of four members each.

  4. Each group will have four investigative roles. Each student will read and discuss the essential question, take notes from at least two of the provided Websites, and share the information with the group. Pictures may be printed to help the explanation; but notes should be paraphrased, and bibliographic citations recorded on note cards.

  5. Provide students with the URL for the Group Investigative Role Cards (http://www.readwritethink.org/lesson_images/lesson238/role_cards.html).

  6. Display on an overhead or pass out copies of Stage One: Rubric for Group Investigative Roles and discuss the rubric with students.

  7. Depending on student reading levels and Internet skills, allow three class periods for individual research and one for group sharing.

  8. As they work, circulate among students, offering them feedback and answering questions as appropriate.

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Sessions Six through Nine

  1. Once groups have completed their research, explain Stage 2 of the WebQuest, Individual Characterizations.

  2. Explain that students will incorporate information researched in Stage 1 with details previously viewed and discussed in class.

  3. Display or pass out the Character Sketch Assignment and go over the details with students. Explain to students, in addition to writing an essay, they will role play the character and make a presentation to the class. The presentation can include costumes and props, but must be realistic and believable.

  4. Pass out copies of the Party Planner worksheet, which students will complete as a prewriting activity.

  5. Remind students to cite sources using the MLA format at the Landmarks Citation Machine or in your handbook.

  6. Display on an overhead or pass out copies of Stage Two: Rubric for Individual Characterizations and Stage Three: Rubric for Presentations. Discuss the rubric with students.

  7. As students work on their characterizations, allow them to return to the links on the Group Investigative Role Cards as they need.

  8. Encourage students to share their drafts with groups as they continue this project. As they work, circulate among students, offering them feedback and answering questions as appropriate.

  9. If students need more support as they explore character traits, the lesson plan Action Is Character: Exploring Character Traits with Adjectives provides a nice minilesson for this project.

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Session Ten

  1. Allow students a few minutes at the beginning of the class where they will present their characters to organize their props and costumes.

  2. Invite students to volunteer to share their character sketches, and remember to ask them to submit a copy of the text to you for Scrooge's scrapbook (this will the the copy that you'll use to provide students with feedback).

  3. If desired, to accompany the presentations, provide hot spiced cider and cookies, lending wonderful aromas to the festivities.

  4. At the conclusion of the presentations, students may play Victorian parlor games.

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  • Monitor student interaction and progress during group work to assess collaborative work skills and research skills and assist any students having problems with the project. Review student notes in journals and logs. Use the Stage One: Rubric for Group Investigative Roles to give students feedback on their progress.

  • As students work on their character sketches, look for indications that they are able to connect the information from their collaborative research to the writing task. In particular, are students consulting their notes? Do they return to the Websites on the Group Investigative Role Cards if they need more information. Encourage any students who are stuck to look to their notes and group members for help. Use the Stage Two: Rubric for Individual Characterizations to provide feedback and assessment of students' written character sketches.

  • Use the Stage Three: Rubric for Presentations to provide feedback on student's role play of the character that they've chosen. Student reaction to presentations will also provide useful feedback to students.

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