Analyzing Theme in the story Sniper.

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SWBAT analyze the theme which develops over the course of the story "The Sniper," by "chunking" theme, plot, and characterization.

Big Idea

How the use of "chunking" helps all students analyze a story by identifying theme, plot, and characterization.


10 minutes

The Activator for this lesson is embedded in the Powerpoint I use to introduce this lesson and short story.  I ask students to think about adversity and the people they have known, read about, and/or seen in a movie who have certain qualities that enabled them to perform well under adversity.  I then ask them to write in their journals about their thoughts regarding taking action under adverse situations because the main character in this story is living under extremely adverse conditions and needs to train himself to be focused on the task at hand to the point of fanaticism.  After giving them a few minutes to write I facilitate a short reporting out by selecting a few students to share their answers.

I chose this short story becuase of its enaging plot and mature theme. I want my studetns to reflect on vilolence and think how the means always justify the end result.  The author creates a provocative ending in which the two brothers are not aware that they end up fighting each other, "When he dashes across, a machine gun opens fire but misses him. He drops to the pavement next to the body as the gunfire ceases. When he turns over the body, he sees the face of his brother." My studetns are aware of the "wars" we are fighting accross the world and have an interest in understanding motives, and outcomes.  I will give them background knowldege of story's setting and time period as well. This lesson will also address CCSS RL.9-10.3 for analyzing how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.


Building Knowledge

20 minutes

I use The Sniper Powerpoint to address students' need for background knowledge during the Irish Civil War as addressed in the standard for developing a topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts. Students are presented with the following information:

  • Background information on the Irish conflict
  • Analyzing images of the conflict
  • Meet the Author: Liam O’Flaherty
  • Story Setting 
  • Vocabulary review and short quiz
  • Footnotes to be aware of in the story
  • Making predictions

I understand that many of my students are primarily visual learners which means that their ability to comprehend and retain the information being taught is greatly enhanced through this modality of learning.  I therefore try to include a visual representation for example throughout this Powerpoint as opposed to having them just read about the subject.

Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Students are now ready to begin reading the adapted version of the story. They will analyze the text by determining a theme and analyze its details by citing evidence form the text RL.9-10.1.  Students have a choice to read independently or with Peer reading.

After every few paragraphs, reading accommodations are designed by integrating questions pertaining to setting, characterization, and theme: Guided Reading of TheSniper (adapted from LiamO'Flaherty)  This strategy is also referred to as chunking which allows students to digest small sections of text to their maximum capacity.  As they are completing the task I circulate among them asking guided questions about theme and their understanding of how to determine theme RL.9-10.3.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

One Sentence Summarizer

I ask students to write a Summarizer which summarizes what they read so far including one detail from the story and any question that they may have.  I ask them to share their summarizers with a peer before they leave for their next class SL.9-10.1