A Different Kind of Bet: Twain's The Million Pound Bank Note (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT both develop and comprehend characterization and themes in a work of drama.

Big Idea

A change in genre means a change in approach.

Opening Question: Does money corrupt?

15 minutes

To begin our work with this selection, I ask students the age old question...Does money corrupt?

I have them write something in their journal before they share, and then I kick off the discussion. The kids raise some interesting points, and they are prepared to think about the ideas that are raised by the Million Pound Bank Note.

Reading in the Play

30 minutes

This play takes two days to read because the first day requires quite a bit of set up time for assigning parts and explanations.

My students love to read plays.  This one is great if you have a class of 25-30, because almost everyone gets a part.  I assign parts by using the random function on an app called "Class Dojo."  You could accomplish the same thing by pulling popsicle sticks.  This prevents the "hams" or "alpha dogs" from hogging all of the good parts.  

I list all of the available parts on a piece of chart paper, and I explain to students, generally speaking, how they can tell which part is likely to have more lines.  (Simple things like in a traditional play, unnamed characters usually don't have a lot of lines).  I also let them scan the text for a few minutes before we begin assigning parts.

My students always want to use "accents" when doing plays.  I explain that the accent has to be consistent with the author's characterization.  If the character is a British servant, sounding like a Mafia don is going to be very distracting for the listeners.

This is a good time to talk about radio plays.  We do one later in the year (The Hitchhiker), and the students often do not know anything about these plays.  When I explain that people used to huddle around the radio to listen to weekly dramas, and I explain that the listener has to keep all of the people straight and they only have the voices to go on, the students tend to do a better job with their performances.

On the first day of reading, we get through the encounter with the snobbish clerk in the tailor shop and stop just after Henry Adams says that he is changing his address.