Closely Looking at Conflicts in Fences, Act 1 Scene 4, to Analyze Character Development

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SWBAT analyze character relationships and development by closely examining the father-son actions and conflicts in a scene.

Big Idea

Do the sins of the father visit the children? See Cory try to resist Troy's pull!

Description of Cornerstone Lesson and Backwards Design

In this lesson, I will continue to model how to use a summarizing strategy developed by Nancy Atwell called SWBST. This is an acronym for Somebody...Wanted...But...So... Then.

SWBST is a strategy that allows students to understand literary elements such as conflict in the plot, and it establishes the framework for teachers to discuss character's motivations in a future lesson. Furthermore, this discussion on conflict sets the stage for us to look into the sins of the father, a central idea in the text, which is the focus of our performance assessment.

Also, looking at the conflicts in the text helps us to look at the ways people die in the text, which is the focus of our informational essay that students will write for homework, because some of these forms of death result from the conflicts between the characters.

Students will be provided with a charted definition for the different types of CONFLICTS on the wall even though we are focusing on external conflict (Cory vs. Troy or Troy vs. Cory). (L.9-10.6)

CONFLICT: struggle between two opposing forces

MAN vs. MAN  - external

MAN vs. NATURE - external

MAN vs. FATE - external

MAN vs. ENVIRONMENT  - external 

MAN vs. HIMSELF - internal


In addition, students will have access to a chart on the wall that I created which summarizes specific information for each scene we have read so far 

Act + Scene       Characters          Setting           Events

Act 1 Scene 1

Act 1 Scene 2

Act 1 Scene 3

Act 1 Scene 4

I am providing the charts on the wall so that students who may have been absent for prior lessons will have a quick reference as to what has been covered so far especially as it relates to our lesson's discussion. I choosing to focus on SWBST today because the framework of this summarizing strategy will make it possible for my students to the write informational/explanatory text on a Grade 9 level (W.9-10.2) for homework.



10 minutes

In this section of the lesson, I want to evaluate my students' understanding on familial responsibility on the part of a father especially since we will be closely reading and analyzing the relationship between the father and son in Fences today. Since we read this scene in yesterday's lesson, today's journal entry is connecting to their prior knowledge of father-son relationships as well as their knowledge of the father-son tension between Troy and Cory.


For the Warmup, students will be completing a journal entry (See below). They will be writing their opinions supporting a point of view with reasons and explanations. This task is aligned to W.5.1 and W.9-10.10.


Read the following excerpt from Page 38. It is Troy’s response to Cory about why he takes care of him. Then, answer the questions below.

a. What is a father’s responsibility to his family?

b.. Is love a part of a father’s responsibility? Why? Why not? Explain


I am including samples of student work for this task:














10 minutes


For this part of the lesson, I want my students to share their opinions. We are starting with one student at this time so that they can begin to feel comfortable using the sentence starters given to them on the discussion tickets. I want my students to start to develop ownership of their verbal skills so that they can begin to have more thought-provoking discussions with their peers.

Students will share their responses and practice agreeing and disagreeing using one of the shared responses. Students will use the discussion tickets to record their responses for the task. They will pose questions and make remarks about the opinions of their peers (SL.7.1c).

Here are some samples of student work: Share#1-#3, Share#4-#6, Share#7-#8 and Share#9-#10.


20 minutes


This section of the lesson is structured to allow my students to go through the process of developing a written response based on their understanding of the conflict in a scene and their summarizing of the conflict using SWBST.

I will have students complete SWBST based on pages 30-38 in the previous lesson and have a sample response for Cory and Troy to use in today's engagement. This will be a quick reference for the students about how to use the summarizing strategy. This example is incomplete because I want the students to finish it by adding what Cory ends up doing.

This is a sample of the completed SWBST.

During this section of the lesson, my students will develop a deeper understanding of a scene through reflection on the oral reading and viewing of a visual representation of the scene. Then, they will develop a written summary describing the conflict between Troy and Cory in this scene.

First, I will show the video of the scene with Troy and Cory discussing their responsibilities (Page 30-38). Second, I will ask my students to share their observations from the video. This allows them to verbally articulate their thoughts and impressions after reviewing the text and watching the visual representation of the text (SL.9-10.1).  Third, I will ask my students to complete a written response explaining the conflict between Troy and Cory using the SWBST template. (W.9-10.10). This task is one that will help prepare them to write informational explanatory essays later in the unit, which would align to the W.9-10.2standard. 

This is a sample of each group's written responses for this task: Group#1 and  Group#2.



Shared Reading and Writing

20 minutes


During this section of the lesson, my students will read a section of the text focusing on Troy's relationship with his father with the intention of creating a summary for this section of the scene using SWBST. This activity allows me to assess whether my students are prepared to write informational or explanatory text emphasizing the conflicts between Troy and his father. I will have oral check-ins individually and in groups as well as observe the written responses.


Students will participate in a whole class reading of the text (Pages 50-55). We will examine the relationship between Troy and his father which is aligned to RL.9-10.3. My students will have a Graphic Organizer to Record the Conflicts between Troy and Troy's father during the reading. Then, students will complete a SWBST for Troy and Troy's father focusing on the literary element, conflict. This task is aligned to RL.9-10.3. Students will be looking at how the character's desires advances the conflicts in the play. Students will write their responses in the SWBST template. This task is aligned to W.9-10.10, and its purpose, as in the previous section, is to help to provide a scaffold toward writing informational or explanatory texts to explain a topic and to convey ideas and information clearly later in the unit, W.9-10.2.


Students will complete 3-2-1 Reflection Sheet based on the lesson if time permits. If time is against us, I will give students the option of completing the reflection sheet for additional homework credit.


I am including samples of student work for SWBST:

SWBST#1  and SWBST#2




SWBST#9 and SWBST#10


Students will complete the homework assignment based on RL.9-10.3 standard. They will explain how Troy's view  of responsibility has been influenced by his father's view of responsibility as well as how Troy's view of responsibility has influenced the way he is raising Cory . This task is aligned to W.9-10.2 which is writing informational or explanatory texts to explain a topic and to convey ideas and information clearly.