Getting to know Eliezer's Story: Theme Analysis of Night

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SWBAT analyze how an author introduces a series of events and/or themes by discussing the first two chapters of Night.

Big Idea

As we meet a young Elie Wiesel at the beginning of Night, it is important to look at both his story and how an older Wiesel sets that story up through themes and events.


10 minutes

We will start class with our usual ten minutes of reading time. I will read with the students during this time. 

Night Chapters 1 and 2 Small Group Discussion

30 minutes

The students were supposed to read the first two chapters of Night over the weekend. To review the text and to analyze why Wiesel introduces his ideas and story this way (RI.9-10.3), I will ask students to work with their Faulkner squares to discuss five themes from these two chapters (SL.9-10.1 and RL.9-10.2). 

I will provide the themes for the students to look at as a way of scaffolding their learning. By providing the themes, I am hoping that they will be able to have a more focused discussion. By working in groups, I'm hoping that they will be able to not only look for specific textual support their interpretation of what the text says explicitly and implicitly (RI.9-10.1), but also talk through sections of the text that might have been confusing. I will give the students a note-catcher for this work.

Night is a pretty simple book to read in regards to complexity, but has very difficult ideas to digest. Much of my instruction with this book will be designed with student discussion and individualized time for emotional response in mind. I'm hoping that these initial discussions will support this kind of thinking. While we might not come back to these specific themes in later discussion/analysis, I hope that providing them with some sample thematic lenses will help them to think thematically as they continue to read and as they write in their reading response journals

On a side note, you may notice that I am tagging to both of the reading strands in these lessons. Night is an interesting text to use to address the reading standards. Technically, it is an informational text because it is a memoir, but as a piece of literary non-fiction, it can be used to meet many of the reading informational text standards as well. I find that my classroom often has overlaps like these and I like that my students have to use overlapping skills when they read, regardless of what kind of text they are reading. 

Whole Class Debrief

10 minutes

Rather than collecting their note-catchers, I will instead ask students to share their quotes and analysis orally for each of the themes. 

This is a strategy I use to make sure lots of voices are represented in my class discussions. The set-up is easy. Each group of four (Faulkner Square) has a number and each student within the group typically has a number (so, 14 groups and four potential speakers within the group). I use a polyhedron di to roll a group number and a four-sided di to roll a speaker. Today I will just roll for group number to call on groups and then allow students to decide who will speak on behalf of their group.

I will just ask students to speak to the themes that they discussed/prepared for using their notecatchers, but will take note of any bunny-trail (unrelated, but maybe related) conversations that could stem into other discussions later in the book. Night is a great book for student generated topic/discussion and, while I am definitely guiding them towards certain topics today, I hope that they will still surprise me with other ideas that might come up. 

Wrap Up and Next Steps

5 minutes

I will use the last five minutes of class as flex time or for extended discussion time. I will also make sure to remind students to continue reading, asking them to read chapter three for tomorrow.