Unit: Reading Comprehension

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Unit Description

A very fun excuse to teach advanced reading comprehension skills! A lot could be said about the psycho-social fit of this book, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, but I have used it with great success. On the one hand, it is the consummate middle school book in both tone and subject matter (a goofy mock-mystery game with an unsatisfying end), and the worst thing would be if your students had already read it in middle school. On the other hand, it lacks not for complex vocabulary and makes plain why one needs strategies to understand text. It is complicated!! Even adults get wrapped up in its nuances and secrets! It is ideal for students in 9th and 10th grades, as it will teach them how to approach high school English classes. If your students have already read it or you can't justify the middle school original intent, swap it out for something dressed up more 'adult,' like the X-Files books, the Sally Lockhart series, or The Dark is Rising series perhaps, and apply the same strategies.


Welcome to Mystery Resources: 9

Spark interest in The Westing Game, establish reading and vocabulary expectations, and introduce critical thinking applications.

Let "The...Game" Begin Resources: 6

establish the plot of the Westing Game, introduce sequence mapping, continue use of QAR and vocabulary development

Combing for Comprehension Resources: 3

students use strategies of scanning, paraphrasing, and inferring to characterize target characters

Westing Game Ch. 10-14 Resources: 5

Students read and demonstrate comprehension of Chapters 10-14, in which the Game appears to get violent.

Sequence and "Hints" Resources: 7

Students use “hints” in the text to reconstruct the chronology of a story that involves non-sequential scenes

Westing Game Ch. 15-25 Resources: 3

Students read and demonstrate comprehension of Chapters 15-25, in which character think they find answers to the mystery.

Fact, Opinion and Evidence Resources: 5

Students differentiate strong from weak evidence and evaluate the strength of cases against characters

In-Character Presentation Resources: 3

Students make a speech in front of the class introducing their character and arguing for their innocence in the Westing murder

Westing Game Ch. 25 -30 Resources: 1

Students measure predictions and hypotheses against what ultimately happens in the book, get closure with the story

Alternative Text: Miracle's Boys Resources: 2

For classes in which the maturity, behavior or reading level is not sufficient for the Westing Game, or if you need an alternative for a few students that is still high- interest, here is another book.


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