• Lesson 2: Scrooge as He is Revealed during the Ghostly Experiences

    Created November 3, 2014

    In this lesson, part of a unit on Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, students examine Scrooge’s experiences with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future and discover how Dickens used both direct and indirect characterization to create a protagonist who is more than just a stereotype.

  • Lesson 1: Language Analysis Based on Stave 1

    Created October 30, 2014

    In this lesson, part of a unit on Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, students focus on the first stave of the novel as they identify the meanings of words and phrases that may be unfamiliar to them. This activity facilitates close examination of and immersion in the text and leads to an understanding of Scrooge before his ghostly experiences.

    Lesson Plans: Grades 6-8
    Curriculum Unit

    Using Textual Clues to Understand “A Christmas Carol” (3 Lessons)

    Created October 30, 2014

    Tools

    Share

    The Unit

    Overview

    Charles Dickens painting

    1842 portrait of Charles Dickens.

    Credit: By Francis Alexander (1800–1880) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

    “I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me.”

    — Charles Dickens, preface to A Christmas Carol

    Charles Dickens first published A Christmas Carol December 1843 and the book won instant popularity. The proliferation of film adaptations during the holiday season continually demonstrates the timeless appeal of this story. Its brevity and memorable characters make it a good choice to introduce young students to Victorian fiction and to facilitate discussion of themes that transcend philosophical and religious differences. Dickens tells the story of a man transformed from cynical and mean-spirited loneliness to generosity and peace, conveying insights echoed by countless stories, poems, films, and popular adages, e.g., “I never saw a hearse with a luggage rack,” and “You can’t take it with you.”

    In Lesson 1, students focus on the first stave of the novel as they identify the meanings of words and phrases that may be unfamiliar to them. This activity facilitates close examination of and immersion in the text and leads to an understanding of Scrooge before his ghostly experiences. In Lesson 2, students examine Scrooge’s experiences with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future and discover how Dickens used both direct and indirect characterization to create a protagonist who is more than just a stereotype. In Lesson 3, students focus on stave 5 as they identify and articulate themes that permeate the story.

    Guiding Questions

    • How does Dickens reveal the changing character of Ebenezer Scrooge, including personality and motivation?
    • How does Dickens’ use of connotation, denotation, and direct and indirect methods of characterization present and extend the novel’s themes?

    College and Career Readiness Standards

    Anchor standard

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1
    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

    Grade level standards

    CCSS ELA Literacy RL 8.1
    Cite textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text

    CCSA ELA Literacy RL 8.2
    Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting and plot; provide an objective summary of the text

    CCSS ELA Literacy RL 8.4
    Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts

    Background

    When Charles Dickens first published A Christmas Carol in December 1843, it won instant popularity with the reading public. Critics note that in the novel Dickens virtually invented the holiday season as many celebrate it today. In earlier times the observance of the twelve days of Christmas was limited to wealthy courts. The Puritan takeover during the seventeenth century involved the suppression of all Christmas festivities, and they did not return with the restoration of the monarchy. The novel presents Christmas as a time for charity, caroling, good will, and celebration within nuclear families. The story’s immediate popularity demonstrates that this vision had tremendous appeal for people early during the Victorian Era.

    A Christmas Carol came relatively early in Dickens’ career, only ten years after his first published story. The Pickwick Papers was published in serial form in 1836–1837, followed quickly by Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby.  Meanwhile, Dickens had married and begun what would become a large family. The small boy forced to black shoes while his family was in debtors’ prison was decades in the past, and Great Expectations was decades in the future.

    A Christmas Carol, regardless of the title, is not a religious text as much as a humanistic one. Church bells do ring, but Dickens emphasizes not religion as much as humanitarianism. As in many of his other works, we see concern with ethics, the right (and wrong) way to live, as well as an awareness of the plight of the poor. Naomi Wood, Kansas State University professor of English, labels it “a compelling story about the Christmas holiday not as a religious observance, but as an aspect of the social contract: the time when those who 'have' experience joy in sharing with those who 'have not.’”  

    Dickens titled his novel A Christmas Carol rather than A Christmas Story. Although the work is clearly not a song, he carried through the metaphor by using divisions he called staves instead of “chapters.” In music and poetry, a stave can be a musical score or a stanza. The novel also capitalizes on Victorian interest in ghost stories and the custom of telling them during the Christmas season.

    This is an excellent choice to introduce young adolescents to Victorian writing and to Charles Dickens in particular, especially just before or during the holiday season when retail pressures can elicit a “Bah, humbug!” from just about anyone. The novel is short enough to be identified sometimes as a novella; it tells a good story; and it stresses themes that transcend all kinds of differences.

    Assessment

    Write an essay discussing three experiences that you think were powerful factors in changing Scrooge’s attitudes and behavior. For each, include specific textual evidence, a description of Scrooge’s responses, and an explanation of the impact on Scrooge.

    Worksheet 4. Evaluation Rubric provides a tool for both student writing and teacher evaluation.

    Extending the Unit

    • Have students exercise their creativity in one of the following ways by integrating and evaluating content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually as well as in words.
    • Create an illustrated children’s storybook version and include pieces of dialogue and narration from the novel.
    • Write a short story adaptation centered on a different festive occasion such as Fourth of July, St. Patrick’s Day, or the opening game of the baseball season. Include characters who mirror those in Dickens’ novel.
    • Create a series of visual images related to key moments in the text, and accompany the images with captions from the novel.
    • Have students read O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” or John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas and write essays comparing and contrasting the work’s characters, situations, and themes with A Christmas Carol.
    • View one of the many film adaptations of A Christmas Carol or attend a live performance of a dramatic adaptation.  Have students analyze the extent to which the filmed or live production of the story stays faithful or departs from Dickens’ text, evaluating the choices made by the director or actors.
    • Have students research the evolution of Christmas festivities over the centuries, including gift-giving, the legend of Santa Claus, and the use of Christmas trees and Christmas cards. Present your findings in a multi-media presentation. EDSITEment feature, The Gift of Holiday Traditions: Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas, provides background on these customs along with links to multiple resources.

    The Lessons

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    6-8

    Subject Areas
    • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Common Core
    • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Novels
    • Literature and Language Arts
    Skills
    • Compare and contrast
    • Creative writing
    • Critical analysis
    • Critical thinking
    • Cultural analysis
    • Discussion
    • Essay writing
    • Expository writing
    • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
    • Internet skills
    • Interpretation
    • Literary analysis
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
    • Representing ideas and information orally, graphically and in writing
    • Summarizing
    • Textual analysis
    • Writing skills
    Lesson Plans: Grades 9-12
    Curriculum Unit

    Magical Realism in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” for the Common Core (3 Lessons)

    Created October 8, 2014

    Tools

    Share

    The Unit

    Overview

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1984.

    Credit: By F3rn4nd0, edited by Mangostar [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

    Today’s students live in an online and literary world dominated by fantasy. The wildly popular book and film series: Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games, all capture young imaginations and give students an escape from the pressures of academic reality, parental expectations, difficult economic times, and a world that seems filled with war, climate change, and human suffering.

    This unit provides an opportunity for students to explore magical realism in the hands of one of the world’s most gifted authors. Through these lessons they will discover how Gabriel García Márquez meshes magical elements with a reality which is, in his view, fantastical in its own right. García Márquez actually recapitulates episodes in the history of Latin America through the story of real and fantastical events experienced over the course of one century by the Buendía family. The fictional village of Macondo is modeled on García Márquez's hometown, Aracataca, Columbia.

    Magical realism, for which García Márquez has been rightly acclaimed, has been defined by many critics. However, there is still much disagreement about its meaning. English-speaking critics tend to place emphasis on the magical elements, while Spanish-speakers tend to stress the reality that underlies the novel. García Márquez himself defended the latter view when he articulated Latin America’s “outsized reality” in his Nobel Prize in Literature (1982) lecture, “The Solitude of Latin America.”

    In Lesson 1, students are introduced to the term “magical realism” and go on to investigate how García Márquez used magical and fantastical elements to enrich his story of the Buendía family and the history of Macondo. In Lesson 2, students ascertain the realistic elements in this author’s style.  They trace how García Márquez used actual events and people from his own life and factual incidents from Colombian history to create his epic. In Lesson 3, students turn to an informational text, García Márquez’s 1982 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “The Solitude of Latin America.” They pay witness to the author’s observations on how the lines between the fantastic and realistic intersect in the culture and history of Latin America so vividly depicted in this novel.

    Guiding Questions

    • How does García Márquez blend magical and fantastical elements as well as realistic and historical elements into One Hundred Years of Solitude to create his own brand of magical realism?

    College and Career Readiness Standards

    Anchor standard

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3
    Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

    Grade level standards

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3
    Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3
    Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

    Background

    Gabriel García Márquez said that everything he wrote is drawn from the first eight years of his life, a period when he lived with his maternal grandparents. His grandmother was a storyteller whose superstitions, legends, and realistic tone provided him with much source material. His grandfather, a veteran of the civil wars that had shaken Colombia over the years, gave García Márquez a foundation for the many wars fought by Colonel Aureliano Buendía. The town where his grandparents lived, Aracateca, served as a model for Macondo; in fact, “Macondo” was the name of a nearby banana plantation. The massacre described in his book was also nearby and actually occurred in 1928, the year he was born.

    At the age of eight, García Márquez left Aracateca to rejoin his parents and they then sent him to boarding school. At twelve he won a scholarship to a Jesuit high school in Bogotá, where he showed his love of literature, stories, and drawing; however, upon graduation, he followed his parents’ wishes and began the study of law at the Universidad Nacional in Bogotá. He loathed law school, however, and began instead to write short stories, a number of which were published; he also used the time to catch up on his reading of both modern literature and the classics. He felt liberated by Kafka’s Metamorphosis and was particularly influenced by Faulkner’s creation of the world of Yoknapatawpha County.

    García Márquez finally dropped out of law school to take a position as a writer for a Colombian newspaper. When he wrote an exposé that annoyed the government, the paper sent him to cover a story in Europe. He parlayed this assignment into a role as a foreign correspondent and roamed Europe as a journalist; he later said that this journalistic training was extremely important in shaping his fiction writing. Eventually his career took him to Cuba to cover the revolution there. He became friends with Fidel Castro and flirted with socialism himself. Although some of his writing was published, he was not a great success.

    Then, in 1965, García Márquez revisited his hometown and felt an inspiration. He wrote daily for eighteen months, almost bankrupting his family, and finally finished One Hundred Years of Solitude. The novel was an immediate success, becoming one of the most popular works of magical realism, selling half a million copies in a few years. García Márquez once said that he tried to tap “the magic in commonplace events.”

    García Márquez continued to write, moved to Mexico, and began to support numerous leftist causes with the proceeds of his books. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. He continued to write and teach for many years; his death in 2014 was mourned throughout the world.

    Additional biographical background information about García Márquez is available from The Modern World.

    Assessment

    Have students write an essay using the following prompt:

    There are repeated magic incidents and fantastic descriptions of events, many of them with a factual basis in Latin American history, in García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. How does the author’s frequent use of “magical realism,” as this technique has been labeled, color and shape the reader’s experience of this novel?

    In their essays, students should include a definition of magical realism, examples of this technique, and textual evidence to support their arguments.

    You may use the Final Assessment Rubric provided for both student self-assessment and your own final assessment.

    Extending the Unit

    1. Circularity of Time

    A part of the fantastic elements García Márquez used to structure his novel is inherent in the old adage: History repeats itself. Rather than employing strict chronological order, the plot of the narrative is marked by constant shifts of time, often to the past, sometimes even to the future.

    Have students consider the effect of the circular and repetitive structure found in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Identify episodes from the text where García Márquez employs the following literary devices:

    • The repetition of names in various forms
    • Repetition of personality traits/biographical details in family members
    • Characters able to foretell the future
    • Shifting time—use of flashbacks and flash-forwards
    • The repetition of images and colors
    • The reappearances of minor characters as ghosts

    Take one of these literary devices and write a short essay explaining how effective García Márquez was in using it to suspend chronological time in those episodes. 

    Compare García Márquez’s use of circular time structure in One Hundred Years of Solitude with another writer you have studied who has applied circularity in his/her work. (i.e., Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart; William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury; Toni Morrison’s Beloved; Tim O'Brien’s The Things They Carried;Kurt Vonnegut’sSlaughterhouse-Five.)

    2. Re-telling an Event with Magical Realism

    Have students respond to the following prompt:

    Take a current event from the news or historical event that you are familiar with and write a short story retelling the event in the style of magical realism. In your narrative, employ the literary devices used in One Hundred Years of Solitude such as magical events; occurrences and supernatural figures told with specific detail and matter-of-fact tone; factual incidents and persons; circular time structure; repetition; hyperbole; extended paragraphs, etc.

    The Lessons

    • Lesson 1: Magical Elements in Magical Realism

      Created October 6, 2014

      In this triumph of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles a century of the remarkable Buendía family’s history in the fictional Colombian town of Macondo. The three lessons presented here explore the fantastic elements of this imaginary world, the real history that lies behind them, and García Márquez’s own philosophical musings on writing about Latin America.

    • Lesson 2: The Realism in Magical Realism

      Created October 7, 2014

      In this triumph of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles a century of the remarkable Buendía family’s history in the fictional Colombian town of Macondo. The three lessons presented here explore the fantastic elements of this imaginary world, the real history that lies behind them, and García Márquez’s own philosophical musings on writing about Latin America.

    • Lesson 3: García Márquez’s Nobel Prize Speech: “The Solitude of Latin America”

      Created October 9, 2014

      In this triumph of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles a century of the remarkable Buendía family’s history in the fictional Colombian town of Macondo. The three lessons presented here explore the fantastic elements of this imaginary world, the real history that lies behind them, and García Márquez’s own philosophical musings on writing about Latin America.

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    9-12

    Subject Areas
    • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > AP Literature
    • Literature and Language Arts
    Skills
    • Architectural analysis
    • Auditory analysis
    • Critical analysis
    • Critical thinking
    • Discussion
    • Fairy tale analysis
    • Interpretation
    • Literary analysis
    • Representing ideas and information orally, graphically and in writing
    • Summarizing
    • Textual analysis
    • Writing skills
  • Lesson 2: The Realism in Magical Realism

    Created October 7, 2014

    In this triumph of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles a century of the remarkable Buendía family’s history in the fictional Colombian town of Macondo. The three lessons presented here explore the fantastic elements of this imaginary world, the real history that lies behind them, and García Márquez’s own philosophical musings on writing about Latin America.

  • Lesson 1: Magical Elements in Magical Realism

    Created October 6, 2014

    In this triumph of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles a century of the remarkable Buendía family’s history in the fictional Colombian town of Macondo. The three lessons presented here explore the fantastic elements of this imaginary world, the real history that lies behind them, and García Márquez’s own philosophical musings on writing about Latin America.

    Shakespeare: From the Globe to the Global

    This collaborative production of the college teacher-participants in a 2011 NEH summer humanities institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library models various approaches, contexts, and resources. Collectively, this sampler of participant themes with applications for teaching, faculty video clips, and annotated bibliographies provides exciting new materials for teaching and research.

  • “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon”: A Common Core Exemplar

    Created September 10, 2014
    Grace Lin

    Grace Lin's novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon combines the story of a courageous young girl who travels to search for help for her family with a set of Chinese traditional tales. The lessons help students to understand the nature of this frame story and to write their own stories of meeting challenges.

    September—Back to Work, Back to School, Back to Books

    Common Core Lessons and Related Resources for Back to School 2014

    Annual feature detailing resources teachers may find useful as school resumes. For this 2104 listing, EDSITEment has framed new resources aligned to respond to the Common Core State Standards including a number of exemplars.

    Perseus Digital Library Logo

    Perseus Digital Library

    An extensive collection of maps, texts, translations, commentary, and artifacts of the Classical world and beyond.