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A Tale of a Few Text Messages: A Character Study of A Tale of Two Cities
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Four 50-minute sessions|
- consider ways in which three major forms of personal communication are similar and different.
- compare and contrast selections of classmates.
- create text messages that one character could have sent to another character in the story.
- create text messages that portray the attributes, relationships, motives, and plot points surrounding the characters.
- reflect and revise their text messages after sharing with classmates.
- After finishing the novel A Tale of Two Cities and discussing the text, direct the students to read the two essays about Dickens. The students could either read the essays online or they could be printed out.
- Once all students have completed the essays, lead a class discussion that focuses on the time period that Dickens was writing from, poverty, and how it affects his literature. Use the questions from p.3 of Teaching Dickens: A Masterpiece Guide.
- Preview session two with the class orally. Informally discuss Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Wikis. Take an informal survey on how many of the students use these contemporary communications, and explain to students that they will be comparing and contrasting these in the next session.
- Explain to students that they will be comparing and contrasting communication through telephone, text messages, and email by considering these questions (put them on the board/chart paper for students to reference):
- When do people use this mode of communication? In what situations and at what times of day is it appropriate to communicate this way?
- With whom do people use each of the forms of communication?
- How does this form of communication actually function?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of each form of communication?
- As students work to compare and contrast using the Venn Diagram, 3 Circles, circulate the room to answer questions and help groups that might need additional assistance or prompting.
- Ask students to print their work and facilitate a discussion of the ways these three modes of communicating are similar and different. Be sure students cover issues such as the informality and perceived non-intrusiveness of sending a text message, the expectation of a caller on a cell phone that the owner of the phone will answer (as opposed to a family member with traditional land lines), and the personal/more permanent nature of an email.
- Handout and explain the Character Chart, which can be found on p. 24 of the A Tale of Two Cities: A Masterpiece Guide. Ask the students to complete this before Session Three.
- Remind students of their work in the previous session, including the communication activity with the Venn Diagram, 3 Circles. Allow a few students to share their printed work as examples.
- Ask the students if they have ever been more open and less inhibited using contemporary communications (email, text message, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, wikis, etc). Facilitate a short discussion using the following questions, if you choose:
- How many of you use text messages, Tweets, or Facebook to communicate with your friends, family, etc.?
- Have you ever said more in a text message, Tweet, or on Facebook post than you would have face-to-face? If yes, why you did say more?
- Do you believe that these contemporary forms of communication will create better relationships? Why or why not?
- Review the Character Chart. Explain to the students that they will use this chart to construct their text messages. Share the A Tale of Two Cities Texting printout (Example) and have a short discussion of the samples provided.
- From this discussion, challenge students to create text messages between characters focusing on 6 main points, using the questions on the A Tale of Two Cities Texting printout.
- What does this text reveal about your character’s background?
- What does this text reveal about your character’s personality?
- What does this text reveal about your character’s social status or background?
- Does your character’s text message reveal more information about him/her than they reveal initially in the novel.
- What does this text reveal about your character’s relationship with other characters in the novel.
- What does this text reveal about your character’s involvement in a major plot point.
- What does this text reveal about your character’s background?
- Remind the students to use appropriate texting abbreviations, if needed, using the Common Texting Abbreviations printout.
- Have students complete as much of the A Tale of Two Cities Texting printout as possible. Students should finish the printout for the next session.
- Have students get out their completed A Tale of Two Cities Texting printout.
- Direct students to get into groups, where they will have time to select the best texts that represent the character, his/her relationships, inhibition due to the technology, and involvement in the plot. As a group work together to improve one another’s texts. Have the students make revisions as needed.
- When students are finished, facilitate an organized sharing of their work.
- Have students take out their copies of the novel, and ask groups to share their invented text messages. Display the text messages on a bulletin board or compile the messages in a book.
- Have students choose two characters in the book. Compose a series of text messages between the characters about what is occurring in the book as a review.
- Have students do the same lesson using Twitter. Use the following links for more information on how to use Twitter and how to incorporate Twitter into the classroom.
- After reading the 2 essays about Dickens and poverty in England, have students work in pairs, record an audio, video, or podcast interview, with one student playing the part of the interviewer and one student playing the part of Dickens himself discussing why poverty is a common theme in his writings. For more information please use Teaching Dickens: A Masterpiece Guide.
- Provide feedback to individuals as they complete the A Tale of Two Cities Texting printout paying special attention to the quality of their responses in the rationale column.
- Observe student participation in the conversation during the sharing process. Encourage students to think critically about their choices (and those of their classmates).