Analyzing Complex Characters and Tone Shift in Salvation

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SWBAT analyze how shifts in tone and complex characters develop in Salvation by writing character descriptions.

Big Idea

How do complex characters create shifts in tone?


10 minutes

I use a power point presentation as a guide for the activities in this lesson.  I do this because most of my students (and most likely yours) are primarily visual learners.  Therefore I always include visual or written directions and/or explanations within my lessons.

After review the lesson's agenda and learning objective I begin the Activator with a quiz (slide #2) to determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or the literary terms that we've been reviewing L.9-10.4:

  • Irony, Allusion, Symbol, Figurative and Literal language 

I ask my students to exchange paper and use peer correction.  When using peer correction for formative assessments I also ask student who is correcting the paper to write their initial in the upper corner. This simple request seems to add accountability to their corrections.

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

I review tone (slide #4) and the use of formal and informal language while giving examples from the text.  Students are then asked to take out their tone word lists and review the variety of words that can be used to describe an author's use of tone.

I then point out the shift in tone from lighthearted to serious in the essay using language samples. For example:

  • I ask students to use their tone words list to describe the feeling in this excerpt: "So I sat there calmly waiting for Jesus to come to me."
  • I then explain that although young Langston is surrounded by his family and friends who are earnest in their devotion to God, "She said you could see and hear and feel Jesus in your soul.  I believed her" through dialogue the tone shifts from lighthearted believing to serious disbelieving, "Now it was really getting late.  I began to be ashamed of myself."  I ask for words that describe this shift in tone. 

I then ask students re-read on page 1, the sentence referring to the "mourners' bench."   I ask questions pertaining to figurative speech and the use of symbols such as: "What is the literal meaning of the mourners' bench?" "What could be the figurative meaning?"  

Students are then asked what the bench might be symbolizing?  After a brief discussion and as required in standard RI.9-10.4, I next ask if there is a shift in the passages tone after reading the sentence, "I was escorted to the front row and placed on the mourners' bench." I also ask if they feel there was a shift in tone, what words create the shift and why?

Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Many of my students are reluctant writers and rather just talk about what they know or learned. To encourage writing their responses and use brevity to express their understanding students are asked to write a one sentence description of listed characters on the power point Slide #5.   I circulate among the students checking for understanding and asking guided instruction questions.  They can either type their answers using a lap top or write them on lined paper.

I then show the next slide #6 which gives directions for the writing activity. Becuase my studetns are reading informational text in a literary manner I address standard RL.9-10.3, which requires students to analyze complex characters.  I ask students to assume 1-2 character role(s) and write a response to the incident described in Salvation.  

I ask students to be aware of the character's point of view and to assume different levels of formality, depending on the character they are writing as.


Wrap Up

10 minutes

As a wrap up to this lesson I ask students to write in their  journals the answer to this question: "Give evidence of when the shift occurred in the essay?”

We will read student responses to this question during the following day's activator.