How Setting Contributes to Conflict

4 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT connect an original thesis to evidence in the story -- in this case, the students are developing ideas about the relationship between setting and conflict in Bloor's novel, Tangerine.

Big Idea

Novels and stories are constructed in layers -- with each layer supporting and shaping the next.

Latin Roots Warm Up

10 minutes

This is our daily warm up, wherein students work with two or three Latin roots per day.  The resource that I use to get my roots is Perfection Learning's Everyday Words from Classic Origins.

Every day, when the students arrive, I have two Latin roots on the SmartBoard.  Their job is to generate as many words as they can that contain the roots, and they try to guess what the root means.  After I give them about five minutes, we share words and I tell them what the root means.

The students compile these daily activities in their class journals.  After every twelve roots, they take a test on the roots themselves and a set of words that contains them.

Big Question

10 minutes

After the students completed the warm up, I put this question on the SmartBoard: 

Think carefully about the elements listed below.  Then, develop an original thesis that connects the elements and explains their function in the story.  (Don't know where to start?   The questions you are asking yourself is "Why did the author put these elements in the story?  Do these elements connect to one another? Are they connected to anything else, such as plot points or characters?  What is the author trying to say?)

muck fires

lightning storms

burning citrus trees

"no tangerines in Tangerine"

man made lakes

sink hole


This is a tough assignment.  Granted, the students had time to ruminate and review the text in order to come up with a "final" response.  This part of the lesson was just an introduction to the assignment and was designed to give kids a sense of the type of thinking that will be expected.  Some kids had a really hard time with this, because it not only forces students to consider setting on a symbolic level, it also asks students to come up with ideas about what the elements mean.  The Common Core promotes the development of layered thinking.  No more just "What?" (as in what were the elements of setting?)  Instead, it pushes "Why?" and "How?"  

Working with the Ideas

45 minutes

After the students spent a few minutes coming up with ideas, I introduced the whole assignment.  It incorporates visuals (in the form of pictures drawn or found on the internet,) original ideas (from the student), and text support.

The samples that are included in the resources for this section illustrate the range of assignments that the students produced.  By eighth grade, the students enter with a sense of how to find text support.  However, they do not necessarily know how to find GOOD text support, nor do some understand the difference between strong and weak arguments.  This assignment is layered, which should help the students who are able to see the connections among the parts.  Some who struggled will probably do better as the year progresses, and they become more comfortable with the type of critical thinking that will be expected of them.



Looking Ahead

5 minutes

In the next lesson, students will have the opportunity to discuss their webs in groups and to develop a "better, more improved" web.  What does this mean?  Their refined attempt should be more specific and connected.  In other words, their thesis should connect logically with their arguments and text support.