Lesson: Sense & Sensibility: Book Introduction

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Lesson Objective

Students will have both visual and verbal understandings of the time period and social context of "Sense and Sensibility"

Lesson Plan


Attached Powerpoint

LCD projector


Internet connection (optional for topic on women)

Vocabulary Notebook

Vocabulary List

Attached Life & Times cards (printed, preferably on cardstock)

Student group assignments (4 groups, pre-assign roles if that’s appropriate for your class)

Drawing paper, coloring tools



9LA3.12 Analyze the way in which a work of literature is related to the themes and issues of its

historical period. (Historical approach)

9LA3.3 Analyze interactions between main and subordinate characters in a literary text (e.g., internal and external conflicts, motivations, relationships, influences) and explain the way those interactions affect the plot.


Anticipatory Set:

Begin by reviewing the great amount of vocabulary introduced yesterday. Choose 10 words from the Project Vocabulary Notebook, and for each word ask one student to read all of the entries out loud, another student to recreate their illustration on the board for the class (or on a white board from their seat if they are shy), and a third student to read aloud and/or write on the board their “You Try” sentence in which they independently put the word into a sentence. If you can get these three things to happen simultaneously, this will take less than 10 minutes to complete. I do this by having the whole class pull out their PVN, explaining what I want from each volunteer, and then calling the words like so: “Odious. John, reader, Melanie, picture, Jorge, sentence. Go.” This is a good routine to get used to so that reviewing words can focus on the words and not on shyness or showboating.



Tell students that we are going to start reading Jane Austen’s novel, Sense & Sensibility, today. But before we start, we need to understand what life was like in the time of this book, because things were very different back then. The story makes sense in its time, but we would expect different things nowadays, so we have to imagine how things were for the people who were living then.  We are going to share the work of learning that by each learning one part or aspect of the lesson, and then teaching each other until we all understand. Begin presenting attached PowerPoint.


Guided Practice:

Divide students into 4 groups. (If you have more than 20 or so students, make 5 groups, each with 4 reporters).  These should sit separately if possible. Students with medium abilities are best as reporters, with higher functioning students as note-takers and more challenged students (particularly any ELD students) as illustrators. 


After presenting instructions (see PowerPoint), distribute one Life & Times card to each group, along with drawing and coloring tools, and note paper if necessary. Circulate and guide student comprehension. It is important to prompt students to think about how to explain what they are reading in their own words, so that peers who haven’t read it will understand. Do not allow them to just read the card to other groups, they need to discuss, understand, rephrase, and explain in a conversational manner to others. You can tell students that although they are “teaching,” they just need to “have a chat about” what they learned.


After 10 minutes reading and preparing while you circulate, call each group’s topic and have the reporters disperse to the other groups (note-taker and illustrator can stay “home” and finish their duties), and explain their concept to the other groups. After each group has explained, hold up each illustration and ask if there are any questions about these life and times topics. Display illustrations in the classroom (possibly near the entrance) to help refocus students on the setting of the story each day.


Independent Practice:

This doesn’t have to be independent, but this should be reading time. I recommend evaluating both the reading levels and the attention strength of your students and, based on your judgment, giving each student either the graphic novel version or perhaps the novel version. Novels should go to students who read efficiently, enjoy reading, have strong vocabulary and are known to do homework when assigned. You can choose to have students grouped by level, reading together in the classroom, have students reading independently in their respective books, or you can start out by reading the graphic novel version (maybe using a document camera?) aloud with the class, and then assign approximately the next section of reading for novel readers as homework. Choose this based on your class dynamics.




Ask one student to summarize IN THEIR OWN WORDS what we have learned about the story so far.


Ask other students to summarize what we have learned about each character that has been introduced in the time students have had to read.


Specifically, ask students if they have identified the hierarchies at work in the story. Can they find evidence of any person’s ranking over another? What evidence do they find?


Solicit questions, predictions and any analyses or insights students might have in their minds at this time.


Assign homework as applicable.  (For novel readers, assign pages or chapters. For graphic novel readers, you may or may not choose to assign the attached Revision homework.)



Lesson Resources

Interactive: Life for Women 1800s


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