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Lesson Plan

If a Body Texts a Body: Texting in The Catcher in the Rye

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If a Body Texts a Body: Texting in The Catcher in the Rye

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Scott Filkins

Scott Filkins

Champaign, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Students imagine the possibilities afforded by text messaging technology in The Catcher in the Rye in this lesson that serves as a review of the novel, an exploration of Holden Caulfield's character and narrative voice, and a study of a now everyday form of communication.  Students first compare and contrast several forms of communication: telephone, text message, and letter or email.  They then select five moments in the novel in which Holden may have sent a text message had the technology been available.  The lesson concludes with students sharing their text messages and a discussion of the rationales behind their choices.

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In the NCTE Council Chronicle article "The Shift to 21st-Century Literacies," Sara Kajder notes that as information technologies continue to evolve, teachers "'have opened up what counts as valued communication' in the classroom" (4).  One way that teachers can acknowledge the continued rapid shift to more technology-driven communication is to allow students to use communication forms that they already value to achieve literacy goals traditionally associated with the English language arts classroom, such as relating to characters and responding to text.

William Kist points to the specific transition from "a page-based to a screen-based society," contending that "'[i]t's a different way of encountering communication or thought or human expression'" (5).  Inviting students to respond to literature in the format of a series of text messages achieves two goals: It shows that teachers value forms of communication in which students already engage, and it allows teachers to discuss with students ways in which new means of communication are similar to and different from more traditional ways expressing meaning.

Further Reading

Collier, Lorna. "The Shift to 21st Century Literacies." The Council Chronicle Nov. 2007: 4-8.

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