Base Group Analysis of Theme Language in F451

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SWBAT identify and explain the contrasting themes of ignorance and meaning by engaging in textual analysis in groups.

Big Idea

We move into key moments of F451, examining figurative language in words with strong affective connotations.

Introduction to Base Groups

10 minutes

The students have been working in stable base groups all year, and in following the the research by David and Roger Johnson (U of Minnesota), I seek to develop the following traits:

Positive Interdependence (teamwork)

Face-to-Face Interaction (eye to eye, knee to knee)

Individual Accountability (no work, no eat... or at least no good grade)

Cooperative Skills

Group Processing

(BASE GROUPS by David and Roger Johnson will give you more to think about on this topic :-)


At this point in the year, I am asking the students to practice the cooperative skill of questioning. I am asking each of them to respond to the prompt (see next lesson section), but in doing so, I am guiding the students to ask follow-up questions (SL.9-10.1)

I will use this portion of class, just a few minutes, to remind the students that the group work is  purposeful and to elicit from them why questioning is important, as well as finding evidence to share on key topics.  

1.) How can you support your group members?

2.) What does it mean to ask an effective follow-up question?  How about an ineffective follow-up question? 

Base Groups examine figurative language

20 minutes

Students will move into their base groups to complete the task Base Groups Analysis pp.30-60 F451 with each of the students selecting a key section of the text, Fahrenheit 451.  These sections establish character (RL.9-10.3) and theme (RL.9-10.2) in important ways, so I will want students to take turns focusing on one of three key moments: this method, a jigsaw, allows each group member to contribute something important to the group (SL.9-10.1).  I will also let each of the students pair up with another student from another group who has the same topic, and in this way, they have a "master partner" to help give each of them some clear and informative information.  

The three tasks are as follows, and each asks the students to delve into the particular word choices Bradbury uses to render the given topics. 

1.)    The Victim.  What happens with the burning of the old woman and her books? (35-37) What details contain strong connotative language to reveal Montag’s feelings about this?

2.)    Book Fever.  What type of changes has Montag had about books?  (38-39, 49)  Why does he steal a book?  Does Beatty know about it?  Does Mildred?  How do they react?

3.)    Beatty’s Story.  What does Beatty suggest has happened to society, and why do the firemen carry a key role in this new society?  (52, 56, 57*, 59).


The base groups then meet for about 15 minutes while each student shares out the notes from the book's key parts and pages (SL.9-10.1), and the group as a whole prepares to share notes with the class.  

In a way, this plan is not all that imaginative or complex, but it is keenly focused on giving students the chance to practice their skills of examining and selecting words that have strong connotations (RL.9-10.4)

Base Groups Report out

30 minutes

From group to group, each will present to the class (SL.9-10.1).  As a class, there will be a lot of common ground, since each of the groups had the same three topics.  I plan to listen for the students' ability to explain the words selected and to also summarize how the words construct a figure of speech.  I plan to ask questions on two levels: literal comprehension, and inference.


Follow-up questions:
1.) What, literally, is being described in your section?

2.) What words have strong affective connotations attached to them?  What broader implications do they make when combined?