Lesson Plans: Grades 6-8

Lesson 1: Language Analysis Based on Stave 1

Created October 30, 2014


The Lesson


To complete this lesson, students need to have read the first stave or chapter of the story, which precedes Scrooge’s encounters with the ghosts promised by Marley’s spirit.  Worksheet 1 involves them in decoding language based on context (CCSS RL 8.4) and engages them in close examination of parts of the text, all of which stress Scrooge’s coldness and isolation. Note that chapters in this work are also known as “staves.”

By focusing on selected passages, students understand Dickens’ language and recognize the protagonist’s adamant refusal to participate in the holiday celebrated by everyone around him. This lesson is part of an EDSITEment curriculum unit about A Christmas Carol, which includes background notes and a summative unit assessment along with lesson extenders.

Learning Objectives

  • Analyze the meanings of words and phrases based on textual context
  • Describe and analyze Ebenezer Scrooge as he is presented in the opening stave

Lesson Activities

Activity 1. Language Analysis Based on Stave 1

Invite general responses to the novel’s characters and style, including any factors that make the reading a challenging experience.

Explain that A Christmas Carol was written nearly two centuries ago during a time often referred to as the Victorian Period in honor of England’s reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. You may want to have students peruse EDSITEment-reviewed Victorian Web to get a sense of gender roles, class differences, and social mores of the time.

Point out that it is often possible to figure out the meanings of words and phrases based on how they are used in a text. [Teachers might provide examples of decoding words using context clues, such as:

  • Terry Tierney was an unhappy, surly, morose individual. (The word “unhappy” clues readers into the meanings of the other generally less familiar words.)
  • The painting depicts a bucolic scene of shepherds and flocks of sheep on a rustic hill.  (The scene in the picture indicates that both “bucolic” and “rustic” relate to life far from urban centers.)

Have students work in small groups to use Worksheet 1 to analyze language in stave 1. Emphasize close textual study as a tool to understanding words and phrases. Follow with whole-class review, using the teachers version of Worksheet 1

Follow-up discussion questions:

Consider how Charles Dickens used the opening chapter to convey a clear image of the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge. Many of the author’s word choices relate directly to cold, dismal, miserly traits (tight-fisted, squeezing, wrenching, grasping, steel, bitterer, etc.).

  • What are your main impressions of Scrooge? Are there people like him in real life today?
  • What might be Marley’s reasons for appearing at Scrooge’s home and promising a series of visions?
  • What do the other characters in the story seem to think of Scrooge? Why, for example, does the nephew persist in trying to lure Scrooge into a holiday spirit?
  • What sorts of visions do you expect Scrooge will experience?  Why might his responses be both curiosity and trepidation?


Have students write short essays in which they describe the life and personality of Scrooge as he is described in the opening stave. Require the use of textual support, including quotations, as well as at least three words or phrases from Worksheet 1.

The Basics

Time Required

1 class periods

Subject Areas
  • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Common Core
  • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Novels
  • Literature and Language Arts
  • Compare and contrast
  • Creative writing
  • Critical thinking
  • Discussion
  • Essay writing
  • Interpretation
  • Literary analysis
  • Summarizing
  • Textual analysis
  • Writing skills
  • Mary Anne Kovacs