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Lesson Plan

Exploring Setting: Constructing Character, Point of View, Atmosphere, and Theme

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Exploring Setting: Constructing Character, Point of View, Atmosphere, and Theme

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

Scott Filkins

Scott Filkins

Champaign, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology






  • Audio recording of “The Town Is Lit”

  • Lyrics for “The Town Is Lit”

  • Stuart Dybek’s short story “Blight”

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  • Read the Dybek story carefully before sharing with the class. There are several instances of cursing by the narrator and other characters. Determine if the story is acceptable reading material for your students and school. For background information you may wish to read The Morning News interview with Stuart Dybek.

  • Listen to “The Town is Lit” and determine the amount of preparation students need for listening to an art song by a classical soprano. This style of music is largely unfamiliar to many students, and they may need a bit of prepping for what they are about to hear.

  • Obtain or make copies of all the literary pieces and student handouts.

  • Familiarize yourself with the concept of Urban Renewal in Chicago history, particularly the “Blighted Areas Redevelopment Act,” from which Dybek takes the title of his story. You may also find this map of Chicago useful.

  • Arrange for copies of the lyrics of “The Town Is Lit” from the CD booklet of Honey and Rue.

  • If you have not read Great Expectations, familiarize yourself with the story of Miss Havisham and her key characteristics.

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