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K–12 teaching and learning · from the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • develop comprehension of plot development.
  • examine flashbacks in the story in order to determine time.
  • work cooperatively in groups to determine story events.
  • arrange events in chronological order using time order words, context clues, and logical reasoning.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 Days

Materials/resources

  • A Christmas Carol text (this activity uses the 1968 copyrighted version from Houghton Mifflin’s Discovering Literature)
  • notebook paper
  • pencils
  • markers
  • chart paper
  • tape or glue to share within each group
  • scissors
  • red and green construction paper

Pre-activities

Before this activity, students must read the entire story. In previous lessons where flashbacks are explained by using current movies or “soap operas” and time order words are listed on the board, students will form groups to point out specific examples from the text of both of these skills. (An example of a flashback would be the Ghost of Christmas Past taking Scrooge into his past to see scenes from his youth; time order word examples would be before, after, when, next, at three o’clock, etc.)

Activities

Day 1

  1. After having read the entire story, students will be placed in eight groups. Two groups will work on Stave One with the introduction and the entrance of Marley. Two other groups will work on Stave Two with the Ghost of the Past, two will work on Stave Three with the Ghost of the Present, and the final two will work on Stave Four with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
  2. The group assignment is to list all main plot developments and events. These should be listed in order on notebook paper.
  3. Next, the two groups who were working on the same sections should collaborate by writing their answers on chart paper for a change of pace. (The primary purpose for this was to provide small working groups on the initial assignment.)
  4. The teacher will take those events from each group to scramble, type, and edit for the next day’s lesson.

Day 2

  1. Each student will be given 2 copies of randomly arranged events for the entire story. Working in small groups, have students cut events apart and arrange them in chronological order from the beginning to the end of the story. Students will attach them with tape or glue. First have students cut apart the first copy and arrange the events chronologically as they happened in Scrooge’s Past, Present, and Future. Then have students cut apart the 2nd copy of events and arrange the events as they appear in the story. They should notice time order words, flashbacks, and the four major divisions of the story.
  2. Discuss how time order (transition) words signal a flashback in time and a return to the “real time” timeline of the story. Also discuss why Dickens chose to show Scrooge’s character in the Present before showing how he was in the past.
  3. You will probably work on this near the Christmas season so the use of red and green construction paper can be used for a more festive atmosphere.
  4. Followup activity: Have students write a fictional description of all the negative characteristics of an unsympathetic character. Then have them add a flashback describing the character in the past, before they became so unlikeable. Finally, have students add a description of the event that changed them into such an unlikeable person. Has the flashback changed their feelings about the character?

Assessment

Assessment will occur when students’ papers are checked to see if events are correctly ordered.

Supplemental information

A sample list of events is attached (Events 1 and Events 2).

Comments

Cutting and pasting with sixth graders takes a long time-it works better with older students. I found that giving each student a strip of tape about a yard long and having them roll the tape for the backs of their strips was a more efficient use of time.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 6
          • 6.RL.1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
          • 6.RL.5 Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.
        • Grade 7
          • 7.RL.3 Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).
          • 7.RL.5 Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning.
        • Grade 8
          • 8.RL.3 Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 6

  • Goal 5: The learner will respond to various literary genres using interpretive and evaluative processes.
    • Objective 5.01: Increase fluency, comprehension, and insight through a meaningful and comprehensive literacy program by:
      • using effective reading strategies to match type of text.
      • reading self-selected literature and other materials of individual interest.
      • reading literature and other materials selected by the teacher.
      • discussing literature in teacher-student conferences and small group discussions.
      • taking an active role in whole class seminars.
      • discussing and analyzing the effects on texts of such literary devices as figurative language, dialogue, flashback and sarcasm.
      • interpreting text by explaining elements such as plot, theme, point of view, characterization, mood, and style.
      • investigating examples of distortion and stereotypes.
      • recognizing underlying messages in order to identify recurring theme(s) within and across works.
      • extending understanding by creating products for different purposes, different audiences and within various contexts.
      • exploring relationships between and among characters, ideas, concepts and/or experiences.

Grade 7

  • Goal 5: The learner will respond to various literary genres using interpretive and evaluative processes.
    • Objective 5.01: Increase fluency, comprehension, and insight through a meaningful and comprehensive reading program by:
      • using effective reading strategies to match type of text.
      • reading self-selected literature and other materials of individual interest.
      • reading literature and other materials selected by the teacher.
      • assuming an active role in teacher-student conferences.
      • engaging in small group discussions.
      • taking an active role in whole class seminars.
      • analyzing the effects on texts of such literary devices as figuarative language, dialogue, flashback, allusion, and irony.
      • analyzing the effects of such elements as plot, theme, point of view, characterization, mood, and style.
      • analyzing themes and central ideas in literature and other texts in relation to personal issues/experiences.
      • extending understanding by creating products for different purposes, different audiences and within various contexts.
      • analyzing the connections of relationships between and among characters, ideas, concepts, and/or experiences.

Grade 8

  • Goal 5: The learner will respond to various literary genres using interpretive and evaluative processes.
    • Objective 5.01: Increase fluency, comprehension, and insight through a meaningful and comprehensive literacy program by:
      • using effective reading strategies to match type of text.
      • reading self-selected literature and other materials of interest to the individual.
      • reading literature and other materials selected by the teacher.
      • assuming a leadership role in student-teacher reading conferences.
      • leading small group discussions.
      • taking an active role in whole class seminars.
      • analyzing the effects of elements such as plot, theme, charaterization, style, mood, and tone.
      • discussing the effects of such literary devices as figurative language, dialogue, flashback, allusion, irony, and symbolism.
      • analyzing and evaluating themes and central ideas in literature and other texts in relation to personal and societal issues.
      • extending understanding by creating products for different purposes, different audiences, and within various contexts.
      • analyzing and evaluating the relationships between and among characters, ideas, concepts, and/or experiences.