Analyzing How the Protagonist Deals with Traumatic Challenges

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SWBAT cite evidence from the text in order to examine character development by completing a literary log on the traumatic events in Junior's life.

Big Idea

How does Junior deal with the many traumatic expereinces in his life?


10 minutes

During his teen years, the protagonist in this novel experiences many upsetting events in his life. To help my students connect with the lesson's objective and make the learning more relevant to their lives,  I ask my students to think of something that happened in their lives that was upsetting.  I explain that upsetting events usually revolve around unexpected deaths in the family or community of friends but could include many other experiences. 

After thinking for a few minutes I ask them to share their thoughts with a learning partner addressing the standard SL.9-10.1 which requires students to Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

Those students who do not want talk to another student can write their thoughts on paper.  I leave five minutes to share out with the large group after all students shared with their partners.  I suggest that before asking your students to engage in this activity that it's important to know the maturity and emotional make up of your class.


Building Knowledge

20 minutes

For this part of the lesson I want to give students some background information on "trauma" and typically how people deal with traumatic experiences in their lives.

I explain that they will be using a "Literary log" or journal is a great place to react to what they've read. They can find out exactly how you feel about the characters or gain insight about the novels theme and plot.  I ask them to write down the traumatic experiences Junior and his family experience in the final chapters of the novel.  I explain that the main character, Arnold, reacts to these events in a variety of ways and that I want them to describe the experience, cite a quote, as required in standard RL.9-10.1, where Arnold reacts to the event, and then analyze why he reacts the way he does.

I explain that any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn't involve physical harm which Junior experienced.  I suggest that some people rebound quickly from even the most tragic and shocking experiences but others are devastated by experiences that, on the surface, appear to be less upsetting.  

Next, I modeled how they will be answering the questions in the log by asking students to think about the first traumatic experience Junior had to deal with.  I use my docucamera to display a traumatic event Evidence of Trauma or cite evidence of what happened when Junior found out he was given his mother's old text book in Mr. P's class.  How did he react?  Did he rebound or was it too much to handle?  Why do you think he reacted in this way?

Quality questions create quality answers which is an aspect of the common core shift Staircase of Complexity.


Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

I explain that for the Students Learning Activity, they will be reading and filling in their literary log with the information that we discussed.  I pass out the logs and begin the process of checking for understanding and circulating among the students to answer any questions they may have and keep them on task.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Report Out: I will pick two students to share one traumatic event, quote and analysis from their literary log with the class. Other students will check to see if they included the event and if so have the same or different analysis.  If it is different,  I will ask them to share their analysis of why and how Junior dealt with the event.