Lighthouse Initiative for Texas Classrooms

Grade 9 Sample Lesson

The Power of Language

Exploring how visual and textual language impact and create meaning

Contributed by Dr. Teri Marshall, Saint Mary's Hall, San Antonio, TX

(Click here for downloadable MS Word version.)

Time Needed:

Four or five 50-minute class periods

Materials/Resources Needed:

Class Period 1—OPTIC and Think-Pair-Share strategies

  • Preparation and Instruction
    • Organize the classroom so that pairs of students can sit together and collaborate on the day’s activity. Teacher should have partners pre-assigned for this activity, preferably with the seating assignments labeled on their desks prior to students' arrival in the classroom. If there is an odd number of students in a class, then one carefully selected group of three can be assigned.
    • In addition, write the letters O, P, T, I, C (see description of OPTIC strategy) vertically on the board, chart stand, or overhead projector, leaving space out to the side to write the rest of the words as you teach each step: Overview, Parts, Title, Interrelationships, Conclusion.
    • Inform students that they will be looking at a variety of texts centered around a common topic but encompassing different themes. In addition, they will be examining how style contributes to a writer's meaning, purpose, and effect.
    • Tell students that they will be learning a critical strategy for analyzing and interpreting visual text, one which they can use in any subject area.
    • Provide students with a copy of the Armed Conflicts, 1999-2004. Have each student get out a sheet of paper and pen or pencil. Tell students that they will be using Think-Pair-Share as the discussion strategy for today.
    • Give students one minute to jot down a general overview of what they are seeing. You should expect a very surface look at what the visual seems to include. Write out the word "Overview" by the "O" on the board.
    • Tell students that now you will give them two minutes individually to write down every little piece and part of what they see: names, information, numbers - all elements and details that seem important. Time the students for two minutes. Write out the words "Parts" by the "P" on the board.
    • After the individual brainstorming time, have partners share their details and add information to their lists.
    • Next, have students examine closely the words in the caption - highlighting or underlining the key words. Write out the word "Title" by the "T" on the board.
    • Have students now work as partners to write down all the connections and relationships they can find connecting the words in the caption (title) with the parts in the graphic itself. Write the word "Interrelationships" by the "I" on the board.
    • Individually, have each student write one or two complete sentences drawing a conclusion about what the graph shows. Students may compare and contrast countries or draw a conclusion about the status of stability in a country over time. Write out the word "Conclusion" by the "C" on the board.
    • Have each student in each partner set read aloud his or her conclusion to his or her partner. Have partners provide evidence for their conclusions from the graph and discuss the similarities and differences in their conclusions.
    • Ask for partners to volunteer to share their conclusions with the entire class.
    • Debrief the OPTIC strategy with students.
      • Ask them if the strategy worked for them in completing the task successfully.
      • Ask them about other graphics that they have used and studied in English classes and if the OPTIC strategy would be helpful to them in their analysis.
      • Ask them how they can use the strategy in other classes.
    • Tell students that they have learned a strategy highly recommended in Walter Pauk’s book How to Study in College2 . Discuss with students that the OPTIC strategy is a critical strategy for college-bound students.
    • Engage students in a brief discussion of the reasons for armed conflicts, the implications, and the effects. Lead students to describe the effects on the morals and values of a society as results of wars and armed conflicts: loyalty, hope, friendship, community, unity, tradition, education.
    • Prepare students to read the short story "The Last Lesson" by Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897) by telling them that the author wrote the story as a result of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. Have students look for some messages/themes that the author wants to communicate about the impact of war on a society and its people.
    • Distribute a copy of "The Last Lesson" as homework reading.

Class Period 2—Providing Evidence, Content/Frame Matrix

  • Preparation and Instruction
    • Organize the classroom so that pairs of students can sit together and collaborate on the day's activity. Teachers should have partners pre-assigned for this activity, preferably with the seating assignments labeled on their desks prior to students' arrival in the classroom. If there is an odd number of students in a class, then one carefully selected group of three can be assigned.
    • In addition, draw a Content Frame/Matrix on the board, large sheet of chart paper, or overhead projector similar to the following example. Teachers may add a blank column for students to add other themes/messages they may find. Teachers may also change any of the values/morals to include other areas you may have found in the text.
    • Although it will be tempting to create a handout of the content frame/matrix for students to fill in the squares, it is not advisable if the teacher wants to teach students a learning strategy. It is well documented in the research on strategic instruction that students must do the drawing of the graphic if transfer to other learning situations is to take place.

Sample Matrix

  Loyalty Hope Friendship Education Community Unity Tradition

“The Last Lesson”

             

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

             
  •  
    • Distribute a sheet of unlined paper to each student. Have students draw the content frame/matrix you have drawn on the board, chart paper, or overhead projector.
    • Have students work together as partners to fill in the columns with evidence from the "The Last Lesson" as to the messages about the tragedies of war. Even though the students are working as partners, each student must have his or her own individual chart. Tell students that they need to include as many pieces of evidence under the value/moral that they can find in the story, understanding that it is possible that not all the values are represented. Indeed, students may add columns if they find additional morals/values discussed in the story.
    • Tell students that they should not simply write down the actual words of the text. Evidence should be written in the form of summaries or paraphrases, with each piece of evidence identified by its paragraph number.
    • Allow 20 minutes or so for students to work on their content frames, walking around the room and providing help and support as needed.
    • Once students have had some time to work through the story together, engage the class in a large-group discussion of evidence to support the author’s messages about the tragedies of war. Teachers may have certain groups come up to write their ideas on the model content frame or simply record students’ responses as they are discussed. Encourage students to add detail and information as needed to their content frames.
    • Tell students that short stories are not the only types of text that speak to a society’s values and morals. Distribute a copy of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. Provide students with the background for the speech that served as part of the prompt for this text on Question 1 of the 2002 AP English Language Examination, available at: http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/repository/
      eng_lang_frq_02_10330.pdf
    • As a homework assignment, have students read the speech and complete the content frame/matrix individually at home just like they did with the information from "The Last Lesson." Teachers may use the content frame/matrix as an independent practice assessment.
    • Have students bring their language/grammar textbooks to class for the next day.

Class Periods 3-5—Participial Phrases

  • Preparation and Instruction
    • Organize the classroom so that pairs of students can sit together and collaborate on the day’s activity. Teacher should have partners pre-assigned for this activity, preferably with the seating assignments labeled on their desks prior to students' arrival in the classroom. If there is an odd number of students in a class, then one carefully selected group of three can be assigned.
    • Make a transparency of the speech to use to highlight key sentences that include participial phrases.
    • Teachers may collect the completed content frame/matrix for a grade or simply provide some opening time in class to share students’ ideas and evidence from Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address.
    • Highlight the fact that students probably noted Lincoln’s elaborate language structures. Tell the students that many writers use phrases and clauses to enhance the meaning, purpose, and effect of their writing.
    • Introduce or review the concept of participial phrases and complete some grammar exercises where students experiment with writing sentences using participial phrases in a variety of positions within the sentence: sentence opener, subject-verb split, and sentence closer. This may take the rest of the class period depending on whether the participial phrase is a new concept for the students.
    • Have students go back into the speech and highlight the third sentence of paragraph two ("While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation.") and the first sentence of paragraph three. ("One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it.") Model the underlining for the students using the overhead projector.
    • Ask students to find the core that is the main clause of the third sentence of paragraph two ("Insurgent agents were in the city."). Identify the subject and verb of the main clause.
    • If students have studied the adverb clause, point that out as the sentence opener. However, the main phrases to examine are the two participial phrases used as sentence closers, each one beginning with the participle "seeking." Lead students in a discussion of the impact of those two phrases.
      • What do the phrases do?
      • What would happen to Lincoln's meaning if they were discarded?
    • Complete the same process for the first sentence of paragraph three. If students have studied parallelism, point out the importance of that concept in that particular sentence. The participial phrases in the first sentence of paragraph three are, once again, used as sentence closers.
    • Have students compose a paragraph that elaborates on one or more of the messages, providing evidence from the text. The paragraph must contain at least two sentences that imitate the structures of the two sentences with participial phrases from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. Have students label the subject and verb of the sentences they write, and label the participial phrases as closers.
      • Teachers could have students choose which text to write about.
      • Teachers could have students write two separate paragraphs: one on each text.
      • Teachers could have students write a short essay comparing and contrasting one of the values/morals as presented by the two authors.
    • Ensure that one of the criteria on the grading rubric includes an assessment of participial phrases.

1 Killgallon, D. (1998). Sentence composing for high school: A worktext on sentence variety and maturity. Boynton/Cook: Portsmouth, NH.

2 Pauk, W. (1984). How to study in college. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston.

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