Come into the Language Arts classroom of Ashleigh Pilson to experience two units of study her middle school students recently enjoyed. Below each description is an audio podcast with student interviews.
6th Unit – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- Essential Question: Which Spirit is the most influential in changing Scrooge?
- Introductory Activity: Students completed a digital escape room gaining background knowledge on the Victorian Era, the historical time period in which A Christmas Carol was written. The students also read about Charles Dickens’ childhood to understand his motivation behind the story.
While reading the story, students practiced analyzing characters’ points of view in an activity titled “The Mind of Ebenezer Scrooge.” Students played the role of Scrooge’s counselor by asking probing questions to determine his early negative attitudes. The counselors had to take note of Scrooge’s responses by writing the responses they felt Scrooge would give based on evidence from the text.
After reading, the students carried over their justification skills by writing an argumentative essay based on the prompt, “Which Spirit is the most influential in changing Scrooge?” Students justified their claims with evidence from the text, which they collected on using their evidence tracker while reading.
7th Unit – The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street by Rod Serling
- Essential Question: Who are the real monsters on Maple Street?
- Introductory Activity: Students played a game of “Invasion” outside. The game began by the teacher passing out role cards to the students, which are not to be shared. Role cards designated each student as an “alien,” “scientist,” or “neighbor.” The aliens are trying to defeat the neighbors, while the scientists/neighbors are trying to defeat the aliens. In each round, a student is “accused” of being an alien and potentially eliminated from the game. Students must use their critical thinking and justification skills in order to determine who the aliens are, while also being careful not to reveal their identity.
After reading The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, the students carried over their justification skills into an argumentative essay addressing the essential question “Who are the real monsters on Maple Street?” Students completed an evidence tracker using evidence from the text to support their claim.