Practicing Contrasts and Contradictions with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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SWBAT to understand contrast and contradictions about the main characters in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by asking themselves questions.

Big Idea

Why is the character doing that?

Lesson Opener

10 minutes

In my lesson openers I always have a "connect" in which I connect students' thinking about yesterday's lesson to today's lesson. I then have a "teach" in which I model for students the lesson of the day and also have them try it out. When I think about my modeling I use three categories; skill, strategy and process. I model by stating the skill to the students, then giving them a strategy in which to use the skill, followed by the process to try out the strategy.

Connect: We have finished a draft of our literary essay of Mason Dixon Memory, now we are going to read one last short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and look deeply at character.  

Teach: I will say, “Today we are going to practice the skill asking meaningful questions about the main characters in this story: Walter Mitty and his wife. You are going to practice the strategy of annotating the text, by asking questions as you read.

The process we will use is:

1) Notice when a character does something out of the ordinary.

2) Ask myself: Why is the character doing that?

3) Jot down my annotations of what I think the character is doing and why.*

For my lesson opener, I am going to read the first two paragraphs of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and say to myself. “Hmmm…why is Walter day dreaming? Maybe he wanted to be something else in his life, like a Navy pilot.” I will jot this down in the margin.

*This strategy comes from the book Notice and Note. Below is an example of an anchor chart I copied from the book.

Active Engagement

20 minutes

Whole Class Read*

I will then have the students read the text listening to the audio-tape version as we read. As we are reading I will direct students to stop and jot every time they read Walter Mitty or his wife doing something out of the ordinary.

I will have them stop and jot, then turn and talk with their partner after everytime he day dreams. We will share out as a class at least twice. 

*I choose a whole class read based on the reading level of my class. When I do a whole class read the purpose is or everyone to be on the same page (literally) and so we can have a whole class discussion as we read. Also the audio version allows students to hear it read with prosody.

If I had all students at 7th grade reading level, I would have them read independently and then discuss after or have them read in partners. 

Independent Practice

15 minutes

I will have them complete a “write long” (using thought prompts) by asking them the question.

“What do you infer the theme of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is so far? How is this theme shown through the characters in the story?" 

As they write I will confer using the Possible Conference for Write Long.


5 minutes


I believe that the end of the lesson should be an assessment of the days’ learning; therefore it should be independent work. I always end class with an “exit ticket” in which students write down the response to a question. 

Students will share out their writing with the whole class or with a partner, then turn it in so I can assess their overall understanding of the story.