Lesson: Passive, Aggressive, Passive-Aggressive: Sense & Sensibility

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to identify reactive behavior on a spectrum from passive to aggressive, will be able to understand the pros and cons of each disposition, and will be able to analyze reactive behavior in literary characters

Lesson Plan


Attached PowerPoint

LCD projector

Vocabulary Notebook

Attached Behavior Spectrum



9-10LA2.5 Extend ideas presented in primary or secondary sources through original analysis, evaluation, and elaboration.

9-10LA3.3 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 vocabulary. Choose 10 words (different from yesterday) 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.



Tell students that we are going to talk about three ways of handling situations. They are going to recognize these ways of acting from their lives. We are going to talk about the pros and cons of each way of acting. We will think about what results a person gets from acting in each of these ways. This will be useful for us to think about in our lives, and in the stories we read in literature.


Present the attached PowerPoint. Allow students to reference people they know for example behaviors, but ask them not to name names, and not to refer to people in the room.


Behaviors that make good examples for the example of Estefania are as follows:

  • Passive: She doesn’t say anything. She sits and is uncomfortable and leaves with a sore back.
  • Cooperative: She moves another chair close by and asks if the person would please be willing to switch.
  • Passive-Aggressive: She sits behind the person and complains the whole class about how uncomfortable she is and how people should be more respectful of others’ chairs. She is still uncomfortable and leaves with a sore back, and the people around her get sick of her complaining and avoid her.
  • Assertive: She says to the person that she doesn’t mean to bother them, but she needs that chair because of her back condition. She points out the other empty chair and asks that they move there.
  • Aggressive: She insults the person, telling them to get out of her chair or she is going to start a fight with them.



Guided Practice:

Guide students through analyzing the song examples.


Divide students into partner groups and assign them to look through the story for 2 situations where a character had a choice of how to react. Ask them to fill out the attached spectrum with an option that fits each category (how they could theoretically have responded). Have them fill in the pros and cons of reacting this way.


Independent Practice:

Students read novels/graphic novels according to classroom system.




Take the last few minutes of class to review some vocabulary again. This is a good time for cloze sentences. Choose 10 words in a different combination than any you have done so far. 

Lesson Resources

Behavior Spectrum.docx  
Behavior Spectrum.pdf  


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