Discovering the Effect of Word Choice on Text Meaning through Writing in F451

Print Lesson


SWBAT analyze figurative language in book 3 (end) by writing an informative paragraph on a key scene.

Big Idea

Now it's time to move to writing about the figurative language we've identified and analyzed -- today we write about strong affective connotations in literature.

Quiz -- Reading Check

15 minutes

Simple enough, this quiz 85-95 is meant to offer just a wee bit of extrinsic motivation for the students who may need it, and I tend to focus on the literal aspects of the story, simply to check that the effort to read and comprehend has been made.  The truth is, high school students have a lot of important issues calling for their time, so a quiz helps them to know that their timely reading does matter, is valued, is registered on their grade, and is an important part of their progress in the novel (RL.9-10.1). 

For me, these quizzes are a great formative check--not so much a 'gotcha'--that helps me to see who might need some additional help.  Some students may need extra coaching on getting the reading done, finding ways to stay organized, etc.  I expect that a couple of students may require a follow-up conversation by me, but up until now, I have not quizzed very much because the students are, by and large, doing great work of staying on top of their reading of a challenging book.

Students Analyze a Passage from Book 3 (individually)

15 minutes

We have spent considerable time and energy thus far turning figurative language on its head (note anthropomorphic metaphor in previous sentence).  Typically, in my teaching, I have asked students to start with the figural image, symbol or metaphor and then have asked them to explain it, as in the case of Gatsby's green light, Hester scarlet A, etc.

This unit, in contrast, has asked the students to begin by noting words that have a strong emotional valence around them, a "strong affective connotation," which is a phrase I lifted from Hayakawa (link to a book on this topic).  From there, we have done several activities in which the students would work in their base groups to put together insights on how the words create meaning together (RL.9-10.4).  The result has been a more open-ended view of what figurative language is and also a more constructive one. 

In this part of the lesson, I ask the students to apply, individually and with little help at first, what they have learned thus far in F451 Writing about figurative language.  I am hoping that the students will do this well, as this is both a summative check for me and a pre-assessment on their upcoming comparison/contrast papers. While their writing may have some argumentative traits, it's still a set of observations, chiefly, so I have it down as informative writing (W.9-10.2).  Finding out where the students are and what they each have learned to do independently is of crucial importance to these final lessons.

Class Discussion of the Prompt

15 minutes

In this section, I will look to see how exhaustive the students have been with regard to their analysis.  I will ask the student what they wrote about, and I am hoping that they will supply specific examples, questions and insightful readings (SL.9-10.1).  

For example, did they catch the new and different view that fire takes on in this section?   Did they identify the important words for discussion.  Mostly, they will be commenting on how the figurative language contributes to a strong emotional impact for the theme of humanization/dehumanization (I actually call it re-humanization here!  RL.9-10.2).

Some words with strong connotations in this section:

1.) Had run a long race...

this is a Biblical allusion as well as a strong comparison

2.) Searched a long search...

strong feelings associated with this.

3.) Lamps...glow...purer light...

fire is now the light of knowledge and humanism not the scarring burning of dehumanization.

4.) Quiet eyes...

the men are at peace with themselves because they are dedicated to knowledge.