Unit Overview

Content Area: Language Arts
Unit Title: Duty, Obligation, and Personal Choice In Literature pdf file of this lesson
Target Course/Grade Level: 8th Grade

Wes Jarrell  
Ellison School
August 12, 2010

Unit Summary

This unit will examine a variety of literature to determine what conflicts arise between personal choice and community obligations. It builds on what was taught in 7th grade social studies during the Civics portion of the class, particularly from the Citizenship Handbook they study during the unit on the US Constitution. Further, it builds on the “natural law” lessons from the Logic and Ethics class. Finally, this lesson reinforces the language arts lessons on sentence types/sentence diagramming.

Primary interdisciplinary connections
Social Studies, Technology, Art

21st century themes
Global Awareness, Civic Literacy

Unit Rationale
This unit will help students develop vocabulary, the ability to analyze a text carefully, and conduct comparison reasoning. It will also help students empathize with others by having them connect the experiences of each story’s minor characters with a defined set of emotions.

Learning Targets

Standards Key Ideas and Details
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

Content Statements

6-12 ELA-Reading-Key Ideas and Details (Grade 8)
3. Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
5. Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.

6-12 ELA- Language (Grade 8)
4.  Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
5. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

6-12 ELA Anchor Standards: Reading
3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

Unit Essential Questions
What obligations do you have toward your family, community, nation?

Unit Enduring Understandings

Individuals may face a moral dilemma in which one obligation conflicts with another or with a “natural law.”

Unit Learning Targets
Students will ...

Compare visual depictions of characters expressing different emotions

Evidence of Learning

Summative Assessment (X days)
At the end of the unit, students will choose between the three different assignments that follow:
1) Write an essay explaining how the conception of obligations has changed over time using the literature as examples.
2) Write a short story around the themes expressed by the literature.
3) Perform a brief skit showing their understanding of the key understandings.

Equipment needed
Smartboard, Document Camera, Flip Camera, Computer Lab
Teacher Resources
Excerpts: “The Bishop’s Silver” Hugo, Victor
“Billy Budd” Melville, Herman
Play: Antigone
Story: “The Dry Rock”  Shaw, Irwin
Poem: “The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens”

Formative Assessments

Lesson Plans

Lesson 1
No good deed goes unpunished. Doing What you don’t want to do…”The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens”
90 min/2 days
Lesson 2
It’s the Principle of the Thing…”The Dry Rock”
90 Min/2 Days
Lesson 3
Has a Stranger Ever Done Something Nice For you? “The Bishop’s Silver
90 Min/ 2Days
Lesson 4
Have You Ever Been Falsely Accused of Anything?   Billy Budd (Excerpt)
90 Min/2 Days
Lesson 5
Who made you King? Where rules come from and why you follow them(or not)  Antigone ,Sophocles
135 Minutes/3 Days

Teacher Notes
Each lesson starts with a motivating free write assignment and discussion designed to activate background knowledge and spark student interest. Next, students examine the text closely in a variety of groupings—whole class, small group, and individual. Students post notes about what they read and understand on the class blog as a way of collaborating. Each lesson will contain different vocabulary and grammar lessons tailored to the text used and the needs of the individual student.

Curriculum Development Resources

Lesson Plan 1

Content Area: Language Arts
Grade: 8
Lesson Title: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Timeframe: 90 min/2 Days

Lesson Components

21st Century Themes
Global Awareness
Financial, Economic, Business,  and Entrepreneurial Literacy
X Civic Literacy- students examine the conflict between what one wants to do and what one must do
Health Literacy 

21st Century Skills
Creativity and Innovation
Media Literacy
x Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
ICT Literacy
x Communication and Collaboration
x Life and Career Skills
Information Literacy
Interdisciplinary Connections: Social Studies
Integration of Technology: Smartboard, Computers with internet connection, class blog
Equipment & materials needed: “The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens”



Learning Activities/Instructional Strategies

Formative Assessment Tasks

Universal Design for Learning Options

Multiple Means of Representation
  1. Perception- Readability software allows the user to customize the display of information by reducing visual distractions that surround written text on the web. 
  2. Language & symbols- Visuwords visual dictionary provides flexibility of color and contrast is a great example of customizing the display of information so that it is accessible to a broader range of users.
  3. Comprehension- Graphic organizers will help students organize and retain knowledge - cause and effect, character and story, compare and contrast, and more. Graphic organizers are effective examples of guiding information processing. These supports help students to organize their thoughts and establish relationships between ideas. 

 Multiple Means of Action and Expression

Multiple Means of Engagement

  1. Recruiting interest- We will use principals found in the Word Generation program in order to give students the sustained exposure to academic language they need for success in school.  Embedding new vocabulary into engaging, controversial passages is an effective way to enhance relevance, value, and authenticity. For use throughout the unit.
  2. Sustaining effort and persistence in Exploring Language-  Slatebox allows students to markup ideas on embeddable "slates" and collaborate in real-time and  is another great tool that will enhance communication among students. For use during the exploration phase.
  3. Self-regulation Students -  Goal setting worksheets will enable students to encourage and organize personal goals. For use at the engagement phase of each lesson.


The following websites were used in preparing the strategies, accommodations, and modifications in the lesson: