Tom Sawyer Anticipation Guide & Chapter 1

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SWBAT write with the purpose of explaining opinions by completing a literature anticipation guide.

Big Idea

Good literature helps us understand ourselves.


10 minutes

In this lesson, I'm laying the groundwork for our end-of-unit literary analysis paper.  At the end of this unit, I want students to be able to reflect on changes in their thinking based on the reading of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  We need to have a record of their thinking for the end of unit paper to be successful.

At the beginning of class, I hand students the anticipation guide.  I walk students through the instructions making sure to explain how the continuum of agree to disagree works.  Middle schoolers really enjoy the idea of exploring all of the middle ground that exists between the extremes of agree and disagree.

After students are done with the anticipation guide, I collect them and we begin talking about and reading the novel!

Getting Down to Business

30 minutes

After I have collected all of the anticipation guides (and put them away for safe keeping), I hand out books so that we can read chapter 1.

Before we begin, though, there are a couple of things I mention to set the stage:

  • I ask the students to remind me of when the book was published.  I then let them know that Mark Twain was writing about the years of his childhood.
  • I do a very quick and cursory overview of what the country was like in the 1830's, this is to prepare them for the n-word that they will be encountering, along with other derogatory expressions.  I remind students that this is part of "dialect," and just because we read them in a book does NOT make it okay to repeat them in the hall (this will be the first of MANY reminders about dialect/inappropriate language in Tom Sawyer)
  • I tell them that we are going to listen to chapter 1 and read along.  I ask them to tell me why, in the hopes that they will remember their assessment from yesterday (usually one or two do, and it makes my day!) 


I know that some teachers LOVE to read out loud.  There are times that I enjoy it, and other times that I'm not "feeling it."  There have even been years where I have a six-period day of Literature class, and I just don't have the vocal fortitude to read a chapter aloud six times!  If you're one of the read-aloud-lovers, enjoy sharing chapter 1 with your students.  It's fun to really play up the characters.

If you're not of the reading aloud persuasion, this is a great and free audio version of The Adventure of Tom Sawyer.  

I would caution against having students read aloud at this point.  The vocabulary is tough and the syntax is unfamiliar.  The comedy of the chapter will be lost to stumbling over the text. 

Did They Get It?

10 minutes

At the end of class, we will have a quick Q&A session about the events and characters in chapter 1. A few questions I pose to the students are:

  • What can we tell about the character of Tom Sawyer from the very first scene in the book?
  • Why does Tom live with Aunt Polly?
  • Why does Aunt Polly seem to have trouble disciplining Tom?
  • How did Tom get caught playing hooky?
  • What can we tell about Sid from the events in the chapter?
  • What does Tom do to the new boy?  Why?
  • How does Aunt Polly know how late Tom arrives back home?


I have had entire class discussions revolve around one question, and I have had a rapid-fire session using all of the questions.  Each group of students discusses the chapter in different ways, dependent on their level of comprehension.  

If you find yourself out of time, you can use some of the questions as an accessing prior knowledge activity the next time you pick up the novel!