Determing a Theme and Analyzing its Development in A Raisin in the Sun

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SWBAT cite specific evidence from the text (Act 3) and video of A Raisin in the Sun and demonstrate understanding of character development and themes by writing evidence based answers.

Big Idea

How to keep my students engaged while approaching the play's climax.


15 minutes

Words That Come to Mind

I pass out a Words Words That Come to Mind organizer and ask students to list five words that come to mind when they think of A Raisin in the Sun.  Then students get into pairs to share and discuss their words.  Finally each pair selects three words to share and give an explanation to the class of why they selected those three words SL.9-10.1.  This activator helps students to retrieve information form the previous lessons.  It also gives me a quick assessment of the information that is being retained. When students share their words they teach each other about aspects of the play setting the stage for the lesson on character development and theme.

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

I begin by asking students to take out their journals and learning packets.  They will look over their notes on themes RL.9-10.2 and symbols RL.9-10.4.  I will use a power point presentation to review the Themes and Symbols used in the play. Students will add information to their learning packet or journal that they are missing.  The plays is coming to its climax. My focus on themes and symbols at this point in the play will assist my students in their close reading of the plays events and the characters Mama, Beneatha, Ruth, and Walter all have significant interactions that further develop the plays plot and theme.

In slide #2 I ask students to answer the question pertaining to the oppressive circumstances the Younger family needed to deal with in order to reach their dreams.  In slide #3 I ask how the family initially responds to racial discrimination.  In slide#5 we review each character's individual dreams and in slides #6-8 we look at the symbols Loraine Hansberry used in the play.

As we discuss each slide,  I check for understanding by using the Cold Call technique of randomly asking a student a comprehension question.


20 minutes

Before reading and viewing the final Act 3, I pass out a formative assessment and tell students that they will cite evidence from the play to support their answers RL.9-10.1.  Not unlike the district and state Assessments, citing evidence form the text to support their answers is an essential skill as required on the literature core standard.  Using this quiz as a formative assessment gives me information on their learning and any necessary re-teaching.  Students can complete the Quiz individually or with a partner.  Question #7 is a prediction and character analysis question RL.9-10.3 asking, "What do you think Walter and the family will end up doing and Why?"  

Differentiated Assessment

For students who have missed several classes and consequently have gaps in their understanding of the play or for those who have a learning disability, I give them this adapted Quiz 4b which focuses on theme by asking students to identify the character's dreams.

As they complete the quiz I circulate among the class checking for understanding and keeping them focused on the task.

Student Learning Activity

20 minutes

After taking the quiz and a quick review of the answers students listen to and watch approximately (12 minutes) of the Act 3 video because I want the class to see the acting and dialogue between Asagai and Beneatha and Walter and the family to increase their engagement and understanding of character interactions.  Next I facilitate a short discussion to give insight into how complex characters develop over the course of the play and leading up to the climax.  The characters Mama, Beneatha, Ruth, and Walter all have significant interactions that further develop the plays plot and theme RL.9-10.3.  

To help keep students to stay focused on the dialogue, I assign character roles and put name tents on student's desks while asking them to record their role on their Characters Read Chart template.  As we read I will pause to discuss the character's interactions and ask students to record in their learning packet the characters and their traits on the Character Analysis Chart.