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Lesson Plan

A "Brief, Urgent Message": Theme in Slaughterhouse-Five


A "Brief, Urgent Message": Theme in Slaughterhouse-Five

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions, plus additional out-of-class time for student work
Lesson Author

Suzanne Linder

Suzanne Linder

Champaign, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives

Mobile Apps






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CD/DVD Cover Creator

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

CD/DVD Cover Creator

The CD/DVD Cover Creator allows users to type and illustrate CD and DVD covers and related booklets for liner notes and other information. Students can use the tool to create covers for books, music, and films that they explored as well as to create covers for media they compose individually or as a class.


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RWT Cover Creator

Grades   K – 12  |  Mobile App  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

RWT Cover Creator

Cover Creator allows users to type and illustrate covers for a variety of media.


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  • Students should read and have a basic understanding of at least the first five chapters of Slaughterhouse-Five.  It is not necessary to teach this lesson immediately after students have finished those chapters; the lesson can be taught at any point thereafter. The Study Guide to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s Slaughterhouse Five may be a useful resource to facilitate a general understanding of the novel.

  • Prepare an appropriate number of copies of the handouts associated with the lesson.

  • Review the Teacher's Guide to Chapter Five of Slaughterhouse-Five and select a passage from Chapter 5 to model during Session One.

  • Secure recordings of "The Trapeze Swinger" by Iron & Wine and "Sidewalk Fight" by Yann Tiersen (or other music as you see fit).  These pieces are referenced in the student examples.

  • Secure a CD player or other method for playing music for students.

  • (Optional) Secure a means of projecting the video of students sharing and discussing their work.

  • Review the NCTE Position Statement on Fair Use for Media Literacy Education for an understanding of fair use in student selection of music for the CD project.

  • Familiarize yourself with some examples of liner notes and reviews in order to spend time in class talking about the genre of music writing.

  • Familiarize yourself with the CD/DVD Cover Creator if students will be using that tool. Ensure that you have the latest version of Flash on student computers. This plug-in can be downloaded through the technical support page.

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