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Boys Read: Considering Courage in Novels
|Grades||6 – 8|
|Lesson Plan Type||Unit|
|Estimated Time||Eight 45- to 60-minute sessions|
Ridley Park, Pennsylvania
- Gain an understanding of various ways in which individuals can demonstrate courage by reading realistic fiction, set in a variety of times and places, that features male protagonists
- Use a graphic organizer to list the main events in a narrative text
- Develop skills in structuring a persuasive argument by using a Persuasion Map
- Develop skills in written expression by writing a persuasive essay
|1.||Begin the lesson by discussing one or more current events in which individuals have displayed courage. You may wish to discuss widely known international events, or you could personalize the lesson by discussing a local event.
|2.||Ask students to name individuals who have shown courage and have acted as role models for them.
|3.||Tell students that they will have an opportunity to select and read books with distinct male characters. Explain that as they read these books, students should reflect upon the characters' actions and ask themselves whether they think the main characters show courage.
|4.||Display the five books you have chosen for your class from the Suggested Booklist or the Guys Read website, and introduce each book by giving a synopsis of the story (see Preparation, Steps 1 and 2). Provide time for each student to select one of the five titles.
|5.||After students have selected their books, help them form partnerships or small groups with classmates who have selected the same title. Assign each pair or group a date by which they must read the entire book.
|6.||Ask each pair or group to divide their book into four sections and establish a schedule for reading. Since students are not familiar with the texts, you may want to suggest an appropriate division for each book (see Preparation, Step 3).
Homework: Students should read the first section of the book before the next class session. As they are reading, students should pay attention to main events and also ask themselves whether the main character is showing courage.
|1.||Begin this session with a whole-class discussion focusing on the concept of courage. Lead a brief discussion with questions such as:
|2.||Ask students to meet with their groups or partners. Provide time for them to discuss the issues introduced in the whole-class discussion, in the context of the events in the first section of their novel. Students should discuss the questions:
|3.||Tell students that they will be using the online Graphic Map tool to record the main events in the section of the book they have just read. Demonstrate use of the tool. Point out that students will need to print out their maps and save them for use in Session 6.
Note: You may choose to have students use the Graphic Map individually, with a partner, or in small groups (with classmates who are reading the same title). If students are working in groups, they will need to print enough copies of their map to provide one for each student.
|4.||Send students to computers to use the Graphic Map to record the main events of the first section of their text. Remind students that they will each need to have a printed copy of the map for use later.
Homework: Students should read the second section of the book before the next class session. During the next session they will again use the Graphic Map tool, so they should pay attention to main events as they are reading. They should also consider how the main character interacts with others. Does he inspire others to be courageous or does he encourage others to make bad choices?
|1.||Begin this session with a brief whole-class discussion focusing on the ways in which individuals show courage by the choices they make. Ask students to recall difficult choices they have had to make. Lead the discussion with questions such as:
|2.||Ask students to meet in their groups or with their partners. Provide time for them to discuss the events of the second section of the text, focusing on the questions:
|3.||Send students to computers to use the Graphic Map to record the main events of the second section of the text. Remind them to print out copies of the map.
Homework: Students should read the third section of the book before the next class session. As they are reading, students should make note of the main events. They should also ask themselves whether the main character is taking responsibility for his safety and success
|1.||Begin this session with a brief whole-class discussion focusing on responsibility. Lead the discussion with questions such as:
|2.||Ask students to meet in their groups or with their partners. Provide time for them to discuss the events of the third section of the text, focusing on the questions:
|3.||Send students to computers to use the Graphic Map to record the main events of the third section of the text. Remind them to print out copies of the map.
Homework: Students should complete the fourth (final) section of the book before the next class session. In addition to noting the main events, students should consider the ways in which the main character changed during the novel. Did he become more courageous or did he lose confidence in himself?
|1.||Begin this session with a brief whole-class discussion focusing on the ways in which people often change in response to events. Lead the discussion with comments such as the following:
Events such as a transfer to a new school, the birth of a baby brother or sister, or an illness can cause change in our lives. Think about memorable events in your life. Which events have caused major changes in your life? How have you responded to the changes?
Encourage students to make connections between the ways in which they responded to change and the ways in which the protagonist in the novel responded to change.
|2.||Ask students to meet with their partners or in their groups. Provide time for them to discuss the events of the fourth (final) section of the text, focusing on the questions:
|3.||Send students to computers to use the Graphic Map to record the main events of the fourth section of the text. Remind them to print out their maps.|
|1.||Ask students to take out the four graphic maps they have completed during the lesson.
|2.||Using their graphic maps, students should review and reflect upon the main events of the text. Did events in the story cause the character to act more courageously or did the character show weakness when challenged? With a partner or with a small group, students should discuss the ways in which the character in their novel displayed-or failed to display-courage.
|3.||Send students to individual computers with their graphic maps.
Note: At this point in the lesson, each student should work independently to form his own thesis statement and complete his own Persuasion Map.
|4.||Ask students to go to the Persuasion Map and fill in the initial dialog boxes (Your Name and Title). They should then click OK to move to the next screen.
|5.||Direct students' attentions to the Goal or Thesis box on the Persuasion Map. Explain the terms goal and thesis.
Note: The Literacy Dictionary* defines thesis as "the basic argument advanced by a speaker or writer, who then attempts to prove it; the subject or major argument of a speech or composition."
|6.||Using the graphic maps they created previously, students should reflect upon the theme of courage. Did the main character in the book they read show courage or a lack of courage? Help each student form a thesis statement related to the main character's courage or lack of courage. Tell students to record their thesis statement in the Goal or Thesis box on the Persuasion Map.
|7.||Guide students as they work independently at their computers to fill in the remainder of the Persuasion Map. Each student's map should include three main reasons for the validity of his or her thesis. Remind students to refer to the graphic maps they created previously to find facts that support their thesis. They should then formulate their three reasons and write them in the boxes provided.
|8.||Explain that the next stage in the Persuasion Map calls for examples that support the main reasons. Tell students to refer to their four graphic maps to find convincing examples of their three main reasons. Students should then add these examples to their Persuasion Maps.
|9.||Tell students to print out the Persuasion Maps they have created and save them for use in Session 7.
*Harris, T.L., & Hodges, R.E. (Eds.). (1995). The literacy dictionary. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Guide students in writing persuasive essays based on their Persuasion Maps. Remind them to focus on the main character's courage or lack of courage. Establish guidelines for length based upon your understanding of the strengths and needs of your students.
|1.||Provide time for students to read their persuasive essays to the class. If the class is large, you may wish to have students share their essays in small groups. Each group could then select one essay to share with the entire class.
|2.||Encourage students to share their thoughts on the books they have read with a wider audience. Have students go to the Teenreads.com website and read about the Word of Mouth contest. (Contest rules are below the current month's postings.) They can then go to the contest entry page to post their comments and rating of the book they have read.|
- Form literature circles for the girls in the class using the ReadWriteThink.org lesson "Girls Read: Online Literature Circles."
- Ask students to prepare and present brief book talks about other books they have read with male protagonists that might spark discussion in the classroom.
- Encourage students to visit the Guys Read website or the Teenreads.com website to find additional titles that they might enjoy.
- Have students visit the Start Your Own Guys Read page at the Guys Read website and establish a Guys Read bookshelf in the classroom using the resources on the page (i.e., posters, stickers for recommended books, and bookmarks).
- The Teenreads.com website conducts a Monthly Poll that invites visitors to respond to questions related to adolescent literature. Students in your class may enjoy participating in these polls.
- Establish a mentoring program as outlined on pages 30 to 32 of Me Read? No Way! A Practical Guide to Improving Boys' Literacy Skills. This resource also offers a wealth of other classroom activities and techniques for increasing boys' motivation to read.
- Distribute copies of the Self-Assessment sheet and ask students to use it to reflect upon their experiences during the lesson. Tell students that the Self-Assessment sheets will be collected, reviewed by you, and added to their portfolios. Provide time for students to discuss their responses with classmates. Also allot time to discuss each studentís Self-Assessment sheet during an individualized conference.
- Evaluate each studentís contribution to partner or group discussions by visiting each pair or group to note the frequency and content of each studentís participation.
- Evaluate each studentís development of written skills by collecting and examining the graphic maps, persuasion maps, and persuasive essays.
- Use the Teacherís Assessment form to reflect upon the studentsí abilities to meet the objectives of the lesson. This form can help you summarize results and plan future instruction.