Words in Context: The Amazing Race to "The Cask of Amontillado" (Day 1 of 2)
Lesson 1 of 2
Objective: Students will identify the meaning of tier II vocabulary words used in context in order to prepare for reading "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe
Most, if not all, local school systems are taking a hard stance against bullying due to the number of kids that are negatively affected by it. Social media has been buzzing lately about a bullying incident with a group of girls who fight while another girl videos the fight. Since I have heard students discuss the story, I am taking this opportunity to relate it to what happens in our current reading, "The Cask of Amontillado."
For the "Do Now" today, I will ask my students if they have seen the infamous video of Sharkeisha, a teenager that lures her friend to a place under the pretense of talking and then beats her mercilessly while another student videos it from her phone. I want them to write down what they think of Sharkeisha AND the girl holding the video. "Is there anything that would justify this kind of revenge on another human being?" What does this reveal about Sharkeisha's personality? These questions will be on the flipchart as my students enter the room. (In order to view the flipchart, download the ActivInspire software at the Promethean Planet website.)
I won't show the video in class because it is much too graphic, but I am choosing to discuss this video because it has gone viral, especially with high school students, and I have heard some of my students discussing the story and glorifying Sharkeisha's actions. In fact, what Sharkeisha does is similar to what the main character does in "The Cask of Amontillado," our next reading, so I want them to weigh in on what they think of this type of behavior and what it reveals about Sharkeisha's personality. I'm sure we'll have a heated discussion as students share and justify their points of view on these questions (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d).
During this section of the lesson, I will tell my students that we will be reading "The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe. I will ask students to list (orally) some of the other texts they have read by Poe. After we have listed them, I will ask them what they recall about Poe's writing style. I am sure they will talk about the mystery, suspense and horror of his writing, so I will be sure to tell them that this story will not disappoint! I am having them read this story because it is an excellent example of different characters' perceptions of their circumstances and their resulting actions or reactions.
Before reading "The Cask of Amontillado," I'll pre-teach vocabulary by having students work with a partner to use context clues in the following sentences to determine the meaning of the underlined words (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4a). I am pre-teaching vocabulary today because this text has a few challenging words that might stump my students while they are reading. It is important that they develop the habit (that good readers always use) of using context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words.
Here are the sentences I will ask students to work on with their partner:
1. Attending driving school will preclude the possibility of your joining the Bel Air Basketball team, which practices at the same time.
2. Should Sharkeisha be punished or did she commit the crime with impunity?
3. Some police officers greet you in a friendly way, while others accost you.
4. I gave explicit instructions on how to complete the Fakebook project rather than vague ones.
5. "Please do not pass in papers that have been folded or ripped out of your binders," Mrs. Stanton implored.
I am having students work with a partner on this activity so that they can uncover the meanings of these words through conversation. I chose these words because these are words with which they are likely to struggle in the text, and I want them to be prepared to use vocabulary strategies to determine word meanings throughout the text. These are also tier II vocabulary words that they are likely to see in other texts.
Before they begin to read the story silently, I will tell students that the Sharkeisha incident is merely child's play compared to the character in this story. I will ask them to think about how they might compare Sharkeisha to the main character as they are reading.
During silent reading time, I am asking my students to read "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe. I am having them read silently because it has been my experience that students skip over the reading in order to try to hunt for the answers to the questions. I want them to really spend some time reading the text for understanding (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10) first before thinking about questions. This text might prove challenging, so I would rather they use their first reading to try to understand what is happening and why.
During the application section of the lesson I will ask my students to complete "the Amazing Race." For this race, I am asking my students to read the text using context clues to uncover meaning and answer text dependent questions. The text dependent questions will require students to determine meanings of vocabulary words CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4a, cite textual evidence CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1, analyze how an author's choices help create suspense and surprise CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5 , and determine the cumulative impact of word choices, including figurative language on meaning CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4.
The text dependent questions can be found on http://www.achievethecore.org/page/531/anthology-alignment-project-lessons-grade-9. The answers to the questions also appear on the site.
The Amazing Race is a reality show in which partners have to work together to complete specific tasks in order to move on to the next level and ultimately win the game. This activity will be similar to the amazing race because partners cannot move forward until they have answered the previous question correctly and completely. This is also a great way to have them go back immediately to make corrections to responses that are incorrect or incomplete rather than finishing the entire assignment and earning a poor grade.
I am choosing to use these questions because they will give me a chance to see how students do with all of the skills that we have been learning with different texts this year. I am requiring that they provide detailed responses that completely and convincingly answer the questions before they can proceed. I will be keeping track of which level each pair finishes, so I can do a quick check to see where students are getting stuck. For each correctly answered question, students will earn 2 points for a total of 18. I will award extra points if I hear a particularly wonderful discussion as I listen in on the pairs. The grades will depend on how well they answer the questions AND how many questions they get to answer.
We will close out the lesson by checking in to see how far students have progressed with the questions. I will ask each pair of students to indicate the number of questions they have completed. It is not likely that they will finish all of them because they will need to read closely in order to answer the questions, and this will take time. I will strongly suggest that they go back to the text tonight and re-read any portions of the text that are unclear. I am having them do this because I anticipate some confusion with the events, especially the motive of Montressor, the main character's motive and Fortunato's (another character) perceptions and circumstances.