Writing a Narrative to Develop Structured Event Sequences in "The Sniper."

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SWBAT write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences by writing a response using a teacher-generated Letter to the Editor.

Big Idea

How are people affected by war? By writing letters to the editor, students will begin to learn the answer.


15 minutes

The theme of civil war and its calamities was depicted in a 10 minute video I found online on the Irish Civil War, with first-hand accounts and newsreel video of the conflict.  To increase enagement, when students lack background knowldege it's important that we give it to them.  Students are asked to watch this informative video  "The Madness From Within - The Irish civil War part 3."  As they watch the video I asked them to write down 2-4 reactions to the information they see and hear. To check for understanding I use a share-out activity which helps me to get a quick assessment of they they learned as well as other students to fill in any gaps of their understanding. I want them to analyze various accounts of this war and to determine which details are emphasized in the short informational video RI.9-10.7. I pick a few students to share their comments with the class while asking if anyone has anything additional to add to the comments expressed by the students.

Building Knowledge

15 minutes

I conduct a quick review of “The Sniper” plot. I reiterate that the plot of this short story deals with events in a civil war between two opposing groups in Ireland: the Republicans and the Free States.  I share that it all took place in 1922.

Next I ask students to first think about the sequence of events as the Common Core standards require students to identify events using well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences RL.9-10.5. I then call out names of students to add to the plot line as I write them on the board: 

  1. A sniper is on one roof, shooting at people.  
  2. He seems calm but might be getting tired of killing.
  3. Another sniper, an enemy, discovers his hiding place when the first sniper shoots at an old woman who was talking to the enemy.
  4. The first sniper is able to trick the second sniper into thinking he has been shot.  
  5. When the second sniper stands up on the roof, the first sniper kills him.
  6. The first sniper jumps off the roof and goes over to the dead sniper and turns him over, and sees that he has shot his own brother!


Student Learning Activity

35 minutes
Students write an in-character “Letter to the Editor” to the newspaper that published “The Sniper.”  Students will be writing in response to both the short story and background knowledge video they watched today.  By taking on a character during this time of war, students will be asked to put themselves into the "head" or thinking of the character which will help them to synthesize the information such as theme and character development of the story. I give them clear directions on how to write the letter to the editor by asking them to first build a character:
  • Explain who you are and how you are affected and/or involved in the Irish Civil War
  • Also, whether or not you are an Irish Republican or a Free Stater

Next I review the directions for completing their narratives by:

  • Cite two examples from the text to which you have strong reactions. That means you must have at least two quotes from the story, and for each one specifically describe how that quote affects you as an Irish person living through this war. RL.9-10.1

Lastly, I remind them to stay in character while writing the letter as the Common Core standard W.9-10.3 requires students to establish one or multiple point(s) of view, and create a smooth progression of experiences or events.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Quick Write:

Students are asked to write one thing they learned, and one question they may have about what they read.  This activity will give me a formative assessment on their comprehension and analysis of reading this short story.