Showcase Unit

Introduction

  

            This unit has been developed to enhance student’s skills in reading, writing, critical thinking, vocabulary, and comprehension through exercises and assignments related to the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.  Each step in the unit is a step towards the final assessment which is a critical literary analysis essay. 

 

The introductory lesson introduces students to the epic poem “Paradise Lost” by John Milton and the story of Satan’s fall from heaven. The reason I have chosen to start with this lesson is that is gives students an opportunity to be acquainted with the story since it plays a central role in the novel thematically and comprehensively.  Also, it gets the students ready to discover what they see or read might not always be truthful.  With this lesson I use a picture of Satan when he was an angel and ask them to describe the picture without telling them it is Satan.  During the novel it is imperative to always be wondering if the story we are getting about the monster is accurate. Therefore, coming back to the idea of not taking everything we see at face value.

 

The background lesson that comes after the introductory lesson is used as a “hook” to spark student’s interest in the novel and the unit. Here I use a quick survey which asks the students whether they believe technology should be used in a number of circumstances which gradually become more controversial. The last two questions deal with the question of cloning and creating life with technology.  The idea is to initiate a debate about the uses of technology and knowledge which will be the major theme addressed throughout this unit. After the debate, I introduce the student’s to the central theme of Frankenstein which is ‘Dangerous Knowledge’ and how this novel’s message can be very relevant in our world today.  Lastly, this lesson is aimed at getting students introduced to the author Mary Shelley and her motives and inspiration behind the book.  Also, I reinforce the idea that Frankenstein is not a green monster with bolts in his neck.

 

The quizzes that are used were meant to check the student’s reading as well as make them responsible for the material.  I noticed that kids were not reading so to make them accountable I made the quizzes up so there was punishment for not reading.  I felt that this was needed since there was hardly any additional work after we discussed the material and read aloud in class.  Now, after awhile the quizzes became ineffective so a different method was needed.  However, it is good to have some sort of assessment in quiz form at the beginning I found to make them understand there are consequences for not reading.

 

The activities/assignments involved with this unit were quick but important.  They were used to solidify what was being talked about during the reading.  Assignments were not given after each lesson which helped strengthen the learning when we did have work.  They worked on skills in writing with the ‘create your own monster’ and critical thinking with the stem cell worksheet. These both were done as group activities which helped them gather ideas and use them effectively as well as made them work on their skill of working within groups.

 

With vocabulary was intended to expose the students to the words they would be reading and be able to comprehend them.  A series of 7 words were selected and given to the students to study and use for different warm up activities.  The idea is to not give them so many words that they will lose track. Instead concentrate on a small number of words more in depth to really grasp an understanding of them.  It began with first the definition of the word then how to use the word in the proper context. The final assessment was an activity where the students were to write 7 sentences using the word properly in context.

 

In order to connect the theme of ‘Dangerous Knowledge’ within Frankenstein to modern day society I used an article on stem cell research. This interdisciplinary material was very beneficial since there is a lot of science talk within the story itself.  The article “Stemming the Debate: Advances in Stem Cell Research” was published in the Michigan Science magazine in 2008.  This article sparked a lot of interest due to the state wide election on stem cell research and just general opinions on the subject.  Students should be able to use the article to draw parallels to Victor’s research with creating life and the idea of stem cell research ‘creating’ life as well. 

 

The final formal assessment comes with writing a formal essay on the theme of ‘Dangerous Knowledge’.  Students must learn how to devise an argument and support their claim with the novel and other resources in order to justify their side of the debate. Students will learn how to properly write a literary analysis using the MLA format with the completion of the essay.  Also, the essay allows students the opportunity to defend whatever side they have chosen, while also building skills in explaining what the mean by giving specific examples. The essay will be graded with a standard rubric put forth by the school district.  Daily assessment will be done with either the quizzes or class discussion activities. These methods will be quick and easy to check for understanding and how well they are achieving the objectives set forth by the unit plan.

 

There were few modifications for this unit in regard to individual students with the exception of an alternate essay expectation for special need students. The reading assignments were broken down into a maximum of 20 page loads, with a lot of in class reading by the teacher to help understanding and cut the load down.  This is a very manageable amount of reading for a block schedule which this unit was designed for.

Click here for the full Frannkenstein Unit

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