The Honest Tradesman: Dickens and the Great Reveal

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SWBAT use context clues to determine what archaic phrases or words mean in the context of A Tale of Two Cities by working with small groups to determine what Jerry Cruncher gets up to at night.

Big Idea

The first of the great reveals in A Tale of Two Cities comes in Book 2 Chapter 14. Helping students to see how Dickens uses his words to make this reveal is an important step towards discovering other great reveals later in the text.

SSR/Reading Quiz

20 minutes

Instead of our typical reading time, we will start with a reading quiz over the first nine chapters of book two. I was supposed to give this quiz last week, but we kept running out of time, so I am hoping that students are better prepared since they knew about the quiz in advance.

As they finish, I will ask students to read their choice novels or Tale until the whole class is finished.

Whole Class Reading and Discussion: Book 2, Chapter 14

20 minutes

We are finally at the point in the novel where we are starting to see important reveals in regards to the plot/action of story. Specifically, today we will find out what Jerry Cruncher has been up to at night, specifically digging up bodies for scientific research and monetary gain. Dickens does a great job of leaving clues about this "night job" all throughout the book: muddy boots, rusty fingernails, etc.

I am going to read this chapter out loud to the class and do my best impersonation of a Cockney British accent. I will do this both for entertainment value (it will be ridiculous) and to help students see some of the reason why Dickens is hard to understand (writing in dialect).

By working with them on the complexity of the language and discussing what sorts of phrases, words or ideas are unfamiliar, I hope to help them see that some of the archaic terms (i.e. "resurrection man") are meant to be clues to reveal important information about character (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3). This is not a very artful vocabulary lesson, but I want students to understand how language functions (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3), even when it is unfamiliar, and talk about ways to determine what words are worth taking time to decode and then looking at context clues to help decode them (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4). 

Character Charts

15 minutes

The remaining 15 minutes of class will be spent gathering information from our giant character posters from Friday. I want students to have a chance to think about and gather textual evidence for all of the key players (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3) so they have a chart to refer to when they have to read independently over the winter break. I also want to honor the thinking and hard work that they did on Friday with their posters and show them the relevance of that work, specifically as a means to identify foreshadowing so they can see how other characters might have similar "reveals" to Jerry Cruncher's later in the book.