Temptation in the Garden: An Introduction to Paradise Lost

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SWBAT demonstrate the ability read and comprehend literature at the top end of the 9-10 text complexity spectrum by reading and analyzing excerpts from John Milton's Paradise Lost.

Big Idea

Wait, Satan is the hero? What was Milton thinking?

Starting a New Unit

This unit come directly after a short analysis of excerpted passages from Machiavelli's The Prince and directly before our class reading of Shakespeare's Othello.

Here are some thoughts on why I take some time in between these other Renaissance texts to study Milton. First, I think it is a great text to throw them into the deep end of text complexity (with support, of course) to prep them for the challenges of Shakespeare. Additionally, to make sure that I am addressing the shift towards a world focus in the standards AND to match up with my history partner, who will be studying the European Renaissance and other cultures during the 16th and 17th centuries, I think it is only fitting to do this important text from the European cannon so they are aware of Milton's place in history and literature as well as to look at this archetypal/familiar story through his very unique narrative interpretation (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6).


10 minutes

We will start with our typical 10 minutes of reading time. I will read with the students during this time.

Side-note: As my lessons go live, they are not in chronological order. My SSR practice is something that I started at the beginning of the school year and have been supporting with ten minutes of reading time each day. Here's a little info on where this practice comes from, as quoted from an earlier and yet to be posted lesson =):

A few years ago, my teaching colleagues and I read the book Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher and decided it was really important for us to support student reading growth with dedicated time in the classroom for choice reading.

Gallagher's main argument is that school's have killed the love of reading and that to engender this in our students again, we need to let them read purely for choice, with no guided accountability. Our SSR rationale has to do with the many statistics that are available for how readers become better.

However, this is hard to do because as a teacher, I want to monitor their growth and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, especially if we are using valuable class time to do it.

Based on the recommendations of a peer and through conversation with my teaching partner, we are going to read for ten minutes EVERY day. We will have the students create reading goals based on their desired speed and fluency. We will use their state testing data as a place to begin and then time them on the first day. They will be required to read for 90 minutes a week, which means that they are accountable for 40 minutes on their own each week.


Whole Class Reading: Paradise Lost, Book 1

15 minutes

As I mentioned in my Paradise Lost Intro, we don't have a lot of time today. Instead of reading out loud with my class, we will be listening to the LibriVox recording of the beginning of Book 1. As they listen, I will ask students to annotate their Paradise Lost Book 1 notes for a few things and will provide the following instructions:

  • Archetypes--are any used? If so, how?
  • Rhetoric--what is Milton's purpose? Who is his audience? What is Satan's purpose? Who is his audience?
  • General Comprehension--what does each stanza mean? What words or ideas are unfamiliar or confusing to you? (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4)

Each of these questions links to skills we have been working on or skills that we will be working on with our next full text. My hope is that we will get through the first few stanzas in class. I will assign a few more for homework so that we can chat in class tomorrow about how they did with this incredibly complicated text, especially as this lesson will serve as a scaffold for future readings they will have to do on their own, including additional excerpts from Paradise Lost and the entirety of Othello (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10). The common skills of rhetorical and symbolic analysis are my link between all of the Renaissance texts (Machiavelli, Milton and Shakespeare) and will hopefully help students to transfer their conceptual understanding of these ideas between informational and literary texts of a variety of complexity.

Wrap up and Next Steps

5 minutes

I will pause the recording throughout our "reading" time today, but will make sure to leave five minutes at the end to ask for any clarifying questions and to make sure they know how far to read for tomorrow's activities.

Students will have to read an additional three stanzas for homework, so I will also use this time to remind them of our focus for reading and some strategies for comprehending difficult texts, such as pausing often to summarize or annotate or, even more practically, finding a recording to listen to at home while they follow along.

Tomorrow we will be continuing our reading and analysis. The reading they do tonight will be used as the basis for discussion as we move forward.