The Hitchhiker

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SWBAT perform and "unpack" a radio play; SWBAT evaluate a narrator's reliability through examination of the text.

Big Idea

Our first foray into the realm of the unreliable narrator...

Introducing the Lesson: Radio Plays

10 minutes

Before we began today's lesson, I talked to the students about radio plays and their place in popular culture.  I explained that people used to gather around a radio, much like we do to TV today, to listen to popular series.

Then, I asked students about how a radio play must be performed in order for the audience to appreciate it.  In other words, what is different between live or televised performances and those on radio?  The students chimed in with things like "You only have voices to bring the story to life," and "you need sound effects."  Both, of course are true, and I told the class that everyone who doesn't have an assigned role is "in charge of" sound effects.

Assigning Parts/Reading the Play

25 minutes

Next, I took volunteers and assigned parts.  We read the play, with all non-actors doing sound effects.  The kids seemed to really enjoy it.

After they read the play, we discussed this question.  Many kids had trouble with the fact that the story is told in flashback, so I drew their attention to such things as the fact that they reference "six days ago" at two parts of the story.  So,their discussion of whether he was alive or dead was influenced a lot by their understanding of details.


"Exit" Ticket

8 minutes

After we have discussed the story a bit, I put up the exit ticket.

The exit ticket is, essentially, a pre-assessment for an important concept in the unit -- that of the unreliable narrator.  Ronald is not a reliable narrator, because he doesn't realize that he is dead; he believes that he continued west after swerving on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The unreliable narrator is an element that is present in a lot of horror stories.  Our next reading, "The Tell Tale Heart" is a perfect example of how an unreliable narrator affects the relationship that the reader has with a text.  So, by introducing the concept in this lesson, the students will be primed for our next one.

Lit Lab Journal #1: First Paragraphs

15 minutes

During our "lit lab" time (which is basically independent reading time,) students will be reading either The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson or Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.  They had some time to browse the books and choose the one that they most wanted to read.

I don't like to be too regimented or prescriptive about independent reading.  However, I do think that kids need deadlines and some form of accountability.  So, I try to have some kind of written response or book journal for them to write on approximately a weekly basis.

This week, I posted the first paragraphs of both novels, and asked students to identify literary elements and discuss how they contribute to the mood.  This reminds students to read actively and critically, and gives some of the less proficient readers a lens through which to examine the books.