Fifth Grade - Literature - April - Overview
This month in Literature there are two lessons designed to complement the study of The Civil War in American History: Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Walt Whitman's poem "O Captain! My Captain!" The lesson on The Gettysburg Address should be taught after American History Lesson 30. The lesson on "O Captain! My Captain!" should be taught after the Literature lesson on The Gettysburg Address and after American History lesson 32. President Lincoln delivered The Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the cemetery where the Northern dead from the Battle of Gettysburg were buried, an event which is discussed in American History Lesson 30. "O Captain! My Captain!" was written by Walt Whitman on the assassination of Lincoln. That event is discussed in American History Lesson 32.
The remainder of the Literature lessons may be taught in any order.
Other poems part of the curriculum this month are "Incident" by Countee
Cullen and Longfellow's "The Arrow and the Song." Three sayings are covered:
Time heals all wounds, It's never too late to mend, and To kill
two birds with one stone. Additionally, students learn what a pseudonym
is. Related to pseudonyms, students read a story by Mark Twain (the pen
name used by Samuel Clemens), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Fifth Grade - Literature - Speeches - The Gettysburg Address
Note: This lesson should be taught after American History Lesson 30.
Write a speech introducing Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg.
Listen to The Gettysburg Address and evaluate its effectiveness.
Text of The Gettysburg Address, attached (one copy per student, or for transparency)
Address evaluation form, attached (for transparency)
Speech of introduction outline form, attached (one copy per student,
or for transparency)
D'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin. Abraham Lincoln. Garden City: Doubleday, 1970. A classic
picture book about Abraham Lincoln that every student interested in Lincoln should read.
Jacobs, William Jay. Lincoln. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1991. This is a forty-one-page
easy-to-read book with many black-and-white pictures. Recommend this book for independent reading.
Lincoln, Abraham. The Gettysburg Address. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1995. This is a picture book whose text is The Gettysburg Address. The illustrations are by Michael McCurdy. It is strongly recommended that you use this text as the basis of your lesson on The Gettysburg Address. Read this text to the students and show them the artwork which
accompanies the text. Also, recommend this book for independent reading.
McGovern, Ann. If You Grew Up With Abraham Lincoln. New York: Scholastic, 1992. This
book tells what life was like in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois in the 1800s. Recommend it for independent reading.
Otfinoski, Steven. Speaking Up, Speaking Out: A Kid's Guide To Making
Speeches, Oral Reports, and Conversation. Brookfield: The Millbrook
Press, 1996. This book is a practical guide for public speaking and conversation
and covers such topics as reading aloud and stage fright. Recommend it
to students who are interested in the art of public speaking.
Freedman, Russell. Lincoln: A Photobiography. New York: Clarion, 1987. This book contains
black-and-white pictures from different periods in Lincoln's life. Show the students some
of these pictures.
Hakim, Joy. A History of US: War, Terrible War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Chapter 25 contains a detailed description of the context of the address.
Hirsch, E.D., ed. What Your 5th Grader Needs To Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993. The text
of The Gettysburg Address is on pages 46 and 47. A picture of Lincoln addressing the crowd at Gettysburg is in page 47. Show your students the picture.
Meltzer, Milton, ed. Lincoln: In His Own Words. New York: Harcourt Brace, and Co., 1993.
This is a source of some of Lincoln's speeches, writings, and public papers. Excerpts can be read to students to illustrate the life of Lincoln.
Vassalo, Wanda. Speaking With Confidence: A Guide For Public Speakers. Whitehall: Betterway
Publications, Inc, 1990. This book is a detailed reference on the art
In Fifth Grade American History, Lesson 30, students discussed the Battle of Gettysburg. In Lesson 26, students read biographical notes of the younger Lincoln, including how his election as the sixteenth president led to the secession of some Southern states and eventual war. In Lessons 24 and 25, they discussed the divisions between North and South and four causes of the American Civil War, including slavery and states' rights. In Fourth Grade Literature, students read and analyzed the Patrick Henry speech "Give me liberty or give me death" and listened to the Sojourner Truth "Ain't I a woman?" speech. In Second Grade, American History, students were introduced to Abraham Lincoln in the context of the Civil War. They should be familiar with the historical Lincoln and the art of speech making by this time.
After three days of military action, from July first to the third 1863, on the outskirts of the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, fifty thousand Union and Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing. The scale of casualties shocked the nation. General Robert E. Lee was unable to take his dead when he retreated to the South. The governor of Pennsylvania, fearing the spread of disease, forbade the various states of the Union from taking their dead back home for burial. For weeks after the battle, the dead remained on the ground. 16,000 wounded soldiers turned every house, barn, and building into a hospital. The Northern states were then invited to contribute to a common Union cemetery for the Northern dead at Gettysburg.
Edward Everett, former governor of Massachusetts was the greatest orator of this time. When it came to dedicating the cemetery for the Gettysburg dead, Everett was asked to give a grand speech describing the battles and praising Northern soldiers. President Lincoln, on the other hand, was asked to offer brief remarks at the opening of the grave site. It was expected that people would come to see Everett. The president was not expected to take up the invitation, but he did. Lincoln had made the six-hour train trip from Washington and arrived in town the day before the dedication. On the day of the dedication, November 19, 1863, up to 15,000 people attended the ceremony. Local business people gathered on the outskirts to sell them cookies and lemonade and battle relics--minie balls, canteens, buttons, and dried wild flowers grown on the battlefields.
A band played and marchers started a parade. In the procession to the cemetery, Lincoln rode a horse so small his long legs almost touched the ground. Along the way, a mother handed her little girl to the president. The girl rode with him on his horse. He prepared his remarks up to the very last minute, even while Everett made his two-hour long speech. One reason Lincoln prepared his speeches so well was because he did not speak well extemporaneously. His impromptu speeches had landed him in political trouble before. He would take no chances this time. This was important. It was at a point in The Civil War when many Northerners wanted to make peace with the South. They didn't care much for the Union anymore, or for the slaves. But if peace came then, the Union would be forever destroyed. Also, people had rioted in New York when there was a call for more soldiers. Lincoln now thought that the war had a new purpose. He believed it would cause a rebirth of the dream of equality stated in the Declaration of Independence.
Prayers were offered, speeches made. Everett spoke in a deep, rich voice for almost two hours, without any notes. The 15,000 people standing and sitting in the sun were hot and tired. Then, Lincoln, wearing a dark suit, took the speaker's stand, put on his steel-rimmed glasses, took out his notes, began to read 272 (some say 269) words, and was greeted with a snicker.
Five times during his two-minute speech, he earned the applause of his audience and at the end,
all was quiet. It seemed his audience could not believe he had come to the end of his address. No photograph of Lincoln actually giving the speech has survived, perhaps, some believe, because his remarks were so brief that he had regained his seat before photographers could get their camera shutters open.
Lincoln was displeased with his speech. He feared it was a failure. One journalist considered him dull on that day. But Everett wrote to the president that "I should be glad if I flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."
Lincoln's Gettysburg address gave the Battle of Gettysburg a noble meaning. Lincoln said the men had died to make Americans live up to their own beliefs in equality and self-government and meet the pledge contained in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. He said that the nation could be reborn out of those Civil War deaths and that the American experiment in democracy must not be allowed to fail. It is that view of The Civil War that we have come to adopt.
This lesson should be done in at least two class periods. In the first,
prepare the students for The Gettysburg Address by having them complete,
as a class or individuals, a speech introducing Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg.
In the second, have the class evaluate the address' effectiveness.
Ask the students: What do you think of speeches? (Some might find them boring.) Ask: What do you like or don't you like about speeches? (They might comment on types of speakers, speeches, the occasions, the duration, and the language of speeches.) Ask: Do you get stage fright making speeches? Ask: On what occasions do people make speeches? (weddings, dedications, inaugurations, etc.) Ask: Why do people make speeches? (to express thanks, good wishes, etc.) Ask: What jobs or positions require making speeches? (politicians, mayor, president, etc.)
Tell the students that being well prepared is a good way to conquer stage fright, the fear of speaking in public, as is knowing the people they are speaking to, their audience. Then, tell the students they are about to get some practice making speeches. Ask them to pretend they are the mayor of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863 when President Lincoln comes to town.
Ask: Why is the President in town? (attend dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery for the Union dead) Ask: How many soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing after the Battle of Gettysburg? (fifty thousand) Ask: Where were these soldiers buried? (on site of battle) Ask: Were there ministers of religion in attendance? (no)
Explain that the governor of Pennsylvania had received the money with which to erect a cemetery for the Union dead and today's is a ceremony of dedication, that is a ceremony to mark the official opening of the cemetery. Explain that as mayor of Gettysburg, they will act as the master of ceremony (emcee) for the dedication and make a speech introducing President Lincoln to their townspeople.
Explain that this introduction must bring Lincoln and the crowd at Gettysburg together,
by getting the people interested in what the President has to say. Explain that the introduction should be very brief, tell who the speaker is, and what he is to speak about. Put up the outline of the speech introducing Lincoln on the overhead, ask the students to provide the information and write that information on the transparency. If this exercise is to be done independently by the students, distribute copies of the form.
Explain that the speaker's position refers to the office he holds (president of the Union), and what "He is here to speak about" is information the students must get from the speaker. Ask the students to suppose they had spoken to Lincoln and write what they imagined he would have said about his upcoming address.
Explain that a speech is a general term denoting any communication between a speaker and an audience. Emphasize that an address is a planned, written statement for a specific occasion or directed to a specific audience. Explain that Lincoln's was an address in that sense of the word; it was planned and written to be delivered to the people at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.
After the speech introducing Lincoln is complete, have students take turns reading it aloud to the class. You may need to discuss the purpose of Lincoln's address with the students. In that case, explain that Lincoln's purpose was to make Northerners understand that The Civil War would end slavery and ending slavery would save freedom and democracy in America.
Tell the students that after the Battle of Gettysburg, Northerners were so tired of the war, they felt like ending it and making peace with the South. Ask: How different would America have been had the North made peace with the South in 1863? (Union permanently broken, slavery continuing) Explain that to the Northerners who were upset that they were fighting to free the slaves, Lincoln now said this was the right thing to fight for, since this was what America stood for in the first place; freedom and democracy. Emphasize that The Gettysburg Address was meant to give the war a noble purpose.
Tell the students that in 1863, democracy was still very much an American experiment and no one was certain that it would work. Tell the students that Lincoln wanted to use his address to change Northerners' minds, or persuade them that winning The Civil War was the only way to make democracy and freedom survive in America. Tell the students that in order to persuade his audience, Lincoln had them recall that upon independence (fourscore and seven years ago, 1776), the USA adopted the ideals of liberty and equality for all. He then told them The Civil War in general and the Battle of Gettysburg in particular were necessary for America to live up to those glorious democratic ideals. Explain to the students that in so doing Lincoln was making a powerful argument almost certain to move his listeners, because it appealed to the goodness of their hearts and asked them to support the effort to make all Americans free and equal.
Start the second day of this lesson by presenting the following list of words from The Gettysburg Address on chart paper or on the board and ask the students to refer to the list if necessary.
Fourscore: four times twenty; eighty
dedicate: to mark the official opening of
consecrate: to make sacred or holy
hallow: to make sacred or holy
detract: to take away a part
nobly advanced: started well
full measure: completely
in vain: to no purpose
Distribute copies of the address to the students and read the book The Gettysburg Address aloud a first time, showing them the accompanying artwork on every page or simply read the address to them. (See Suggested Books.) Then, offer individual students as many opportunities as possible to read the address aloud and get a feel for the language.
Tell the students they will judge how effective The Gettysburg Address was. Explain that the effectiveness of the address poses the question: Did the address do what it was supposed to? Or, did the address convince the people at Gettysburg to support The Civil War till victory? Remind the students of the purpose they had written for Lincoln's speech when they introduced him and allow them to discuss it and possibly refine it further. Remind the students that they must bear in mind what that purpose was when they rate the address.
Display the transparency of the Address Evaluation Form. Fill in the top section, asking the students to provide each piece of information: the date of the address (November 19, 1863), the place (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), the speaker (President Abraham Lincoln), the occasion (dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery), the topic (purpose of the Civil War), and the purpose of the address (convince the audience to support The Civil War effort).
Explain to the students that they are to pretend they were part of the audience at Gettysburg and rate the effectiveness of the address from that point of view. Remind them that the audience is considering ending The Civil War and allowing the Confederate states to continue to hold slaves if they wish; Lincoln's job is to convince you (the audience) to support the war and preserve democracy in America.
Explain the rating system to the students by telling them that each aspect of the address will be rated on a scale from 1 to 3, with 1 being the lowest and 3 being the highest score.
Continue previewing the speech evaluation part of the form by asking the students to describe the appearance appropriate for President Lincoln during the ceremony (formal, dark suit and tie, etc.). Remind them that the standard of dress in 1863 would have been more formal than today's. Ask the students how they might tell whether the president has prepared well. Explain that the text of the address will be used to rate that aspect of the address.
Ask the students to explain how they might tell whether the audience was satisfied with the address. (Answers may vary.) Ask: How can you tell that the address was suited to the audience? (easy to understand, short, etc.) Ask: How can you tell whether the audience was affected by the address? (snicker, applause, etc.) Ask: How can you tell that the audience did as it was asked to? (applause)
Then, read the book, The Gettysburg Address aloud a second time, again showing them the illustrations by Michael McCurdy. If the book is unavailable, tell them what happened using information from the Teacher Background. Allow the students the time to consider, share, and discuss their responses to each of the items on the form. Supplement the students' discussions with information from the Teacher Background section of the lesson. For example, emphasize that Lincoln was appropriately dressed (dark suit and tie), that he was very well prepared (arrived at Gettysburg a day early to revise his speech), that he stayed on the topic, that his address might not have been very easy to understand, but that it was memorable, that the local audience was shocked that he had ended so quickly, that some snickered at the start of the address but that he earned the audience's applause five times during his two-minute speech.
Conclude by telling the students that The Gettysburg Address was so effective it is considered one of the greatest addresses ever delivered, that it is credited with rallying the North in order to win the war, and that it might have been the single most important act that saved the United States of America from remaining broken.
The Gettysburg Address
by Abraham Lincoln
Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate--we cannot consecrate--we cannot
hallow--this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here
have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world
will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never
forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated
here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so
nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task
remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion
to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that
we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that
this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government
of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the
Fifth Grade - Literature - Speeches - The Gettysburg Address: Address
Place and date of address: _____________________________, __________________________
Occasion: __________________________ Speaker:___________________________________
Circle the response you choose.
APPEARANCE: Inappropriate(1) Appropriate(2) Very appropriate(3)
PREPARATION: Not enough(1) Just enough(2) Excellent(3)
Subtotal: _____ ( possible 6)
ON TOPIC: Off topic (1) More or less on topic (2) Always on topic (3)
LENGTH: Too short/ long(1) Somewhat too short/long(2) Just right(3)
EASY TO UNDERSTAND:
Not easy(1) Somewhat easy(2) Very easy(3)
EASY TO REMEMBER:
Not easy(1) Somewhat easy(2) Very easy(3)
Subtotal: _____ (possible 12)
DID THE ADDRESS MEET THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE PEOPLE?
Not many(1) Some people(2) Most people(3)
WAS THE ADDRESS SUITED TO THE AUDIENCE?
Not many(1) Some people(2) Most people(3)
WAS THE AUDIENCE AFFECTED BY THE ADDRESS?
Not many(1) Some people (2) Most people(3)
DID THE AUDIENCE DO AS IT WAS ASKED TO?
Not at all(1) Somewhat(2) Yes(3)
Subtotal: _____ (possible 12)
TOTAL: _________ (possible 30)
Not Effective: 1-10
Somewhat effective: 11-19
Very effective: 20-30
SPEECH OF INTRODUCTION OUTLINE FORM
(Modified from Speaking With Confidence: A Guide For Public Speakers. White Hall: Betterway
Publications, Inc., 1990.
Citizens of Gettysburg, we are fortunate to have as our speaker today
(full name) (description of speaker's position)
He is here to speak about _________________________________________________________
We all are interested in hearing what ________________________________________________
has to say because______________________________________________________________
Please join me in welcoming _____________________________________________________.
(speaker's full name)
(Lead applause, shake hands with the speaker, and be seated.)
Fifth Grade - Literature - Poems - O Captain! My Captain!
Note: This lesson should be taught after American History Lesson 32
and after the Literature lesson on The Gettysburg Address.
Analyze the poem using the literary terms "metaphor," "narrator," and "character."
Complete a written activity based on the poem.
Text of "O Captain! My Captain!," attached (one copy per student, or for transparency)
Activity, attached (one copy per group, or for transparency)
Scoring Guide (to be used with independent activity)
D'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin. Abraham Lincoln. Garden City: Doubleday, 1970. A classic picture book about Abraham Lincoln that every student interested in Lincoln should read.
Jacobs, William Jay. Lincoln. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1991. This is a forty-one-page easy-to-read book with black-and-white pictures of the assassination and burial of Lincoln on pages 38 and 39. Show the students the pictures and recommend this book for independent reading.
Kent, Zachary. Cornerstones of Freedom: The Story of Ford's Theater and The Death of Lincoln. Chicago: Children's Press, 1987. This easy-to-read book contains thirty pages of lively narrative and color pictures of Lincoln's assassination. Show the pictures to the students and recommend the book for independent reading.
Lincoln, Abraham. The Gettysburg Address. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1995. This is a picture book whose text is The Gettysburg Address. The illustrations are by Michael McCurdy. It is strongly recommended that you read this text to the students, showing them the accompanying artwork. Also, recommend this book for independent reading.
McGovern, Ann. If You Grew Up with Abraham Lincoln. New York:
Scholastic, 1992. This book describes life in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois
in the 1800s. Recommend it for independent reading.
Freedman, Russell. Lincoln: A Photobiography. New York: Clarion, 1987. Pages 121 to 129 contain pictures related to Lincoln's assassination and burial. Show the students these pictures.
Hakim, Joy. A History of US: War, Terrible War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Chapter 30 is a lively account of Lincoln's assassination.
Hirsch, E.D., ed. What Your 5th Grader Needs To Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993. The text of "O Captain! my Captain!" is on page 56.
Whitman, Walt. Everyman: Leaves Of Grass and Selected Prose.
London: J. M. Dent, 1993. This reference volume contains a section titled
Memories of President Lincoln, which includes "O Captain! My Captain!"
and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd."
Walt Whitman was born in New York in 1819. He was raised in poverty and went to school for only five or six years. His poems portrayed Americans as a new nation nurtured in
political liberty. During The Civil War, he cared for his brother who had been wounded at Fredericksburg and spent time at Washington area military hospitals caring for both Union and Confederate soldiers. He might have glimpsed President Lincoln at Washington. He wrote an elegy (a lament for the dead) for the president titled "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." "O Captain! My Captain!" was written shortly after the assassination of President Lincoln. Walt Whitman died in 1892.
Students will already be familiar with the life of Abraham Lincoln, having read The Gettysburg Address in a prior Literature lesson. In American History Lesson 26, students read biographical notes on Lincoln, including how his election as the sixteenth president of the United States led to the secession of some Southern states and eventual war. In American History Lesson 32, they discussed Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth. In Second Grade American History, students were introduced to Abraham Lincoln in the context of the Civil War.
This lesson uses some of the literary terms introduced and reviewed
during the year: metaphor, character, and narrator. The attached activity
may be assigned to individuals or small groups, or it may be completed
as a class activity using transparencies. The lesson may be completed over
two class periods.
Start by asking the students to suppose it is April 1865 and they are Americans who supported Lincoln and the Union during The Civil War. Point to the American History time-line you have been keeping in your classroom and ask the students to recall historical events that could have been topics of conversation of that time (General Robert E. Lee's surrender, the end of The Civil War). While the students continue this visualization, ask: Who is Abraham Lincoln? (president of the USA) Ask: What are his greatest achievements? (freed the slaves, saved the Union) Ask: How do Americans feel now that The Civil War has ended and the Union has been saved? (relief)
Tell the students that it is now April 15, 1865, a few days after General Robert E. Lee's surrender, when they hear the news: President Lincoln has been assassinated! Ask: How do you take the news? (shock) Ask: How do your neighbors react to the news? (sadness, grief) Tell the students that since the president was a public figure, businesses and government offices will pay their respects for the dead president. Ask the students to think of the signs of mourning the general public shows for a recently deceased president (American flags flown at half staff, offices closed, etc).
Tell the students that an American poet, Walt Whitman expressed in poetry the grief the American people felt over the president's death. Explain that Walt Whitman had cared for his brother and other soldiers injured in The Civil War at Washington area hospitals, and might have seen the president there. Explain that the poem expresses Whitman's own grief as well as the nation's sadness.
Put up the text of the poem on transparency or distribute copies of the poem and ask the students to read it silently to themselves at least twice. Put up the list of words from the poem on
the board, draw the students' attention to them, explain that they may be difficult, and ask the students to refer to these words if they need to. Allow five minutes for students to read the poem to themselves. Next, ask for volunteers to read aloud and specify the stanzas or lines of the poem that they will read. Then, ask students to express their reactions to the poem. Show the students pictures related to the assassination and funeral of the president. See the "Suggested Books" section above for materials you can use with this lesson.
Assign the students to eight or more groups of three based on their history of participation in the Literature class (very active, somewhat active, not very active). Tell the students that although each group will focus on all of the lettered steps of the activity from A to H, excluding I, which may not lend itself to group work, they will share only one response with the class. Since they do not know which response this will be, they should complete the entire exercise. The roles of group members will be the following: a Recorder who will write the group's response, a Reader who will read the directions and resource materials to the group and read the group's response to the class, and a Checker who will ensure that the group understands what its task is and that it is completed.
Explain these roles to the class and ask each group to select a Recorder, a Reporter, and a Checker. Ask the students to begin discussing the answers and be prepared to share their answers with the class after five minutes. While the students are working, visit the groups to ensure that they remain on task, that they are working along smoothly as a group, or, where this is necessary, to provide assistance understanding the task.
After the groups have completed their responses, bring the class together again and ask the entire class to participate in the discussion as you review the responses. Put up the trans-parency of the activity on the overhead, read the directions aloud, and ask the Reporter from the first group to read his or her group's response, while you write it on the transparency. (Step A. A captain takes his ship safely through a stormy journey but dies when his ship nears port.) Invite the other members of the class to discuss this response. Locate the information in the poem (Stanza 1, Stanzas 1-3) and ask the students to note the words in the poem that refer to a journey by ship (Captain; ship; port; keel; vessel; flag; shores, etc.).
Read the directions aloud, ask the Reporter from the second group to read his or her group's response, and write in on the transparency. (Step B. In this poem, the ship refers to the American nation, the Union, or the American people.) Invite the other members of the class to discuss this response. Locate the information in the poem (Stanzas 1-3). Ask the students to recall the term used to describe language that compares two unlike things such as a ship and a country, without using the words "like" or "as" (metaphor).
Read the directions aloud, ask the Reporter from the third group to read his or her group's response, and write it on the transparency. (Step C. Just as the ship's captain dies when the ship he has taken through the storm approaches port, so is Lincoln killed after he has saved the Union from break-up during The Civil War.) Invite the other members of the class to discuss this response and locate the information in the poem (Stanza 1; Stanzas 1-3).
Read the directions aloud, ask the Reporter of the fourth group to read his or her group's response, and write it on the transparency. (Step D. The event of American History that the expression "our fearful trip" refers to is The Civil War.) Invite other members of the class to discuss this response. Locate the information in the poem (Stanza 1; Stanzas 1-3).
Read the directions aloud, ask the Reporter of the fifth group to read his or her group's response, and write it on the transparency. (Step E. Accept any character trait that is supported
by a relevant reference to the poem.) Invite other members of the class to discuss this response. Locate the information in the poem: courageous (Line 1); victorious (Line 3, Line 20); fatherly
(Line 13); dear (Line 13), etc. Explain to the students that they can learn the character trait or description of a character by reading the descriptions of the character in the poem ("victor;" "dear") or by using the actions the character carries out (steering ship out of a storm) to describe
him (courageous, skillful, etc.). Explain that as is very often done in reality, they may cite the
words with which others describe a person to describe that character, or they may choose to make up their own minds about that character.
Read the directions aloud, ask the Reporter of the sixth group to read his or her group's response, and write it on the transparency. (Step F. The narrator supports the Union because he refers to the president of the Union, the captain in the poem, as "my Captain.") Invite other members of the class to discuss this response and locate the information in the poem (Line 2; Line 20, etc.).
Read the directions aloud, ask the Reporter of the seventh group to read his or her group's response, and write it on the transparency. (Step G. The narrator is fond of the president. He refers to the president as "dear." (Line 13); He mourns the president's death.) Invite other members of the class to discuss this response.
Read the directions aloud, ask the Reporter of the eighth group to read his or her group's response, and write it on the transparency. (Step H. This is a tragic poem that describes the death of a great man.) Invite other members of the class to discuss this response. Locate the information in the poem (Lines 6-9; Line 16; Lines 21-23, etc.).
Read the directions aloud, and invite individual students to respond to Step I. (Step I. Accept any response which identifies a line and explains why it is the student's favorite.) Close by inviting the students to share their personal responses to the poem or to the death of Lincoln.
If this exercise is to be completed by students working individually,
pass out copies of the activity to the students and direct them to write
their names on the answer sheets. Then ask the students to follow along
while you read the directions aloud. Put the poem in its historical context
by asking the students to recall the causes of The Civil War, the role
of President Lincoln in that war, the sides who fought, the scale of casualties,
the triumphant result for the USA, and the tragic death of Abraham Lincoln.
Next assign the students to pairs, draw their attention to the list of
difficult words from the poem on the board, and ask the students to decide
who will be the first to read the poem to the other. After five minutes,
ask the students to switch readers. Allow five minutes for students to
discuss the meaning of the poem. Then, direct the students to continue
the activity individually. At the end of the exercise, remind the students
to check that they have written their names on the answer sheets, completed
the activity, and proofread their writing. You may then review individual
students' responses with the class.
Walt Whitman's poem, "O Captain! My Captain!" expresses the nation's grief over the death of president Abraham Lincoln. The Civil War had claimed nearly 600,000 lives when on April 9, 1865 General Robert E. Lee surrendered. Lincoln had saved the Union. On April 14, Lincoln, also called "Father Abraham," was shot at the Ford Theater. He died on April 16, 1865.
O Captain! My Captain!
O Captain! my Captain! Our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart! 5
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills, 10
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning:
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck, 15
You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; 20
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
WORDS IN THE POEM
weather'd (line 2): come safely through
rack (line 2): torment
port (line 3): place where ships unload
exulting (line 3): feeling or showing triumphant joy
keel (line 4): ship, boat
flung (line 9): flown, raised
trills (line 10): sound as that made by a
deck (line 15): floor-like surface of shipbird or person laughing
victor (line 20): conqueror; winner
tread (line 22): step
Fifth Grade - Literature - Poems - O Captain! My Captain!
Read the poem titled "O Captain! My Captain!," then complete the activity
that follows by writing at least one complete sentence.
The poem "O Captain! My Captain!" tells of a journey by sea. Describe
how the journey ended.
In the poem "O Captain! My Captain!," the ship's captain is compared
to President Abraham Lincoln. State what the ship in the poem is compared
to. Explain your answer.
Compare the job of President Lincoln and that of the ship's captain
in the poem "O Captain! My Captain!" by stating one way in which both men's
jobs were similar.
Line 2 of the poem "O Captain! My Captain!" reads "Our fearful trip
is done,..." Identify the event in American History that the expression
"our fearful trip" refers to.
Describe one of the ship's captain's character traits in the poem, "O
Captain! My Captain!" and cite words from the poem to support your answer.
State whether in your opinion, the narrator (the person speaking) in
the poem "O Captain! My Captain!" is likely to have supported the Union
or the Confederacy in The Civil War and cite words from the poem to support
Suppose the ship's captain represents President Lincoln. Describe the
attitude of the narrator (the person speaking) in the poem "O Captain!
My Captain!" towards President Lincoln and cite words from the poem to
support your answer.
A tragic poem makes its readers sad. A comic poem makes its readers
happy. State whether "O Captain! My Captain!" is a comic or tragic poem
and cite words from the poem to support your answer.
Identify your favorite line in the poem by citing its number and explain
why it is your favorite.
Use this Scoring Guide with the independent activity. Score every response on a scale of 0 to 2. Use your discretion in allotting points to a response that only partially contains the correct information. The line or lines the response relates to are indicated in parentheses in the scoring guide.
A captain takes his ship safely through a stormy journey but dies when his ship nears port.
(Stanza 1; Stanzas 1-3)
In this poem, the ship refers to the American nation, the Union, or the American people.
Just as the ship's captain dies when the ship he has taken through the storm approaches port, in the same way Lincoln is killed after he has saved the Union from break-up during The Civil War.
(Stanza 1; Stanzas 1-3)
The event of American History that the expression "our fearful trip" refers to is The Civil War.
(Stanza 1; Stanzas 1-3)
Accept any character trait that is supported by a relevant reference to the poem.
Courageous (Line 1); victorious (Line 3; Line 20); fatherly (Line 13); dear (Line 13), etc.
The narrator supports the Union because he refers to the president of the Union as "my Captain."
(Line 2; Line 20, etc.)
The narrator is fond of the president. He refers to him as "dear."
(Line 13) He mourns the president's death.
The poem is tragic because it describes the death of a great personality.
(Lines 6-9; Line 16; Lines 21-23, etc.)
Accept any response which identifies a line and explains why it is the
Fifth Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - It's Never Too Late
to Mend and Time Heals All Wounds
Listen to the meanings of the sayings It's never too late to mend and Time heals all wounds.
Compare and contrast the two sayings.
Choose the appropriate saying in response to a request for advice.
The sayings It's never too late to mend and Time heals all wounds written on sentence strips or on the board
One copy for each student of the attached "Advice Column" worksheet
Hirsch, E.D. What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know. New York:
Doubleday, 1993. Contains the meanings of the sayings and examples of them
In today's lesson, students learn the sayings It's never too late
to mend and Time heals all wounds. After a brief discussion
about the meaning of each, students pretend to be the writer of an advice
column. They respond to several letters, and in each response must appropriately
use one of the sayings learned today.
Tell students that they will be learning two sayings today, the first
of which is It's never too late to mend. Display this saying on
a sentence strip or on the board. Ask: Has anyone heard this saying being
used? What were the circumstances? If no student can recall the saying
being used, provide students with the following example:
Yolanda and Gerry were walking home from school, and Gerry was complaining about her poor grades.
"I can't seem to find the time to study," she mumbled, "I'll never be good at school."
"Gerry," Yolanda responded, "Just force yourself to sit down and do
some studying when you get home from school. You can still earn good grades
on the next report card. It's never too late to mend!"
Ask: What does this saying mean? (There is always time to improve yourself or to change your ways for the better.)
Tell students that the second saying they will be learning is Time heals all wounds, and display this saying on a sentence strip or on the board. Again, ask students if anyone has heard this saying being used, and if so, to describe the circumstances. If no student can provide an example of the saying being used, read the following to students:
When Harold wasn't selected to be on the basketball team, he was very upset. He spent many hours in his room, by himself, sulking. After several weeks, however, he began sulk less and to spend time skateboarding with some friends in the afternoons. Now he hardly ever even
thinks about the basketball team, after all, time heals all wounds.
Ask: What kind of "wounds" does this saying claim time heals? (emotional wounds) Ask: What does this saying mean? (That time allows you to get over events that once distressed you.)
Ask: What do these two sayings have in common? (Accept all reasonable answers, but elicit if necessary that both have to do with things getting better, and that both focus on the element of time.) How are these two sayings different? (Again, accept all reasonable answers, but elicit, if necessary that in the first saying, one is expected to play an active role in improving things, whereas in the second saying, one can be passive and allow time to do the work. Also discuss with the students that in the first saying, it is assumed that one is doing something wrong, but in the second saying, it is assumed that something hurtful has happened, and it may not have been under one's control.)
Next, tell students that they are going to pretend to be "Wise One,"
the writer of an advice column, such as "Dear Abby" or "Ann Landers." Several
people have written letters to "Wise One" asking for advice. In writing
each response, they need to appropriately use either "It's never too late
to mend" or "Time heals all wounds." So that students fully understand
what they are to do, read the following letter to "Wise One:"
Dear Wise One,
I am always in trouble for picking on my little sister. I try to ignore her when she gets on my nerves, but I can't seem to help myself. Will I spend the rest of my life grounded?
Once the letter has been read, ask: What advice would you give Punished
Pete? (Answers will vary.) Which of the two sayings would be appropriate
for you to write in your response to Pete? (It's never too late to mend.)
Distribute the "Advice Column" worksheet and instruct students to complete
it by writing responses on the lines provided under each of the letters.
Remind students that in each of the responses they need to use one of the
two sayings learned today. Once students have completed the worksheet,
read each of the letters to "Wise One" and ask for volunteers to read their
responses. ("Time heals all wounds" should have been used in response to
Sorrowful Sal and Perturbed Pat; "It's never too late to mend" should have
been used in response to Sweet Sam.)
Dear Wise One,
Three weeks ago my parakeet, Polly, died. I still cry when I think about her, and the way she used to chirp when she saw me. Will I ever stop missing her so much?
Dear Wise One,
I have a bad sweet-eating habit! My mouth is full of sugary stuff all day long! I've tried to stop eating so many sweets before, but have always failed. I'm afraid that I've been eating sweets so long that this habit will be with me the rest of my life! Can you help me with my sweet tooth?
Dear Wise One,
My friend really hurt my feelings when she had a party and didn't invite me. I get very angry every time I think about it. Will this bother me forever?
Fifth Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - To Kill Two Birds With
Listen to the meaning of the saying To kill two birds with one stone.
Develop ways to kill two birds with one stone, given a list of
The saying To kill two birds with one stone written on a sentence strip or on the board
One copy of Famous Fifi's "To Do" List for each group of students
Hirsch, E.D. What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know. New York:
Doubleday, 1993. Contains the meaning of the saying and an example of it
In today's lesson, students learn the meaning of the saying To kill
two birds with one stone. After a brief discussion of the meaning,
students are placed into cooperative groups and given a "To Do" list of
a fictitious person. Students are challenged to develop ways the person
could combine items on the "To Do" to save time and kill two birds with
Begin today's lesson by asking students if they have ever had two tasks to accomplish, but have figured out how to accomplish them both by doing one thing. For example, if you needed to practice singing a song for your part in the choir and you were babysitting a sleepy infant, you could sing the song you need to practice to the infant to get him to go to sleep. That way, you would be accomplishing two goals, to practice the song and get the baby to sleep, through doing one action. Ask students if they have ever been able to combine tasks in this way, and allow them to share examples. Ask: What is the saying that is used when one is doing one task that will accomplish two goals? (To kill two birds with one stone) Display the saying on the sentence strip or on the board.
Tell students that today, they are going to assist a famous movie star, Famous Fifi. She has a long list of things that need to be done on her "To Do" list. She needs their help in killing two birds with one stone so that she has time to make it to the world premier of her new movie. In cooperative groups, they will develop ways for her to kill two birds with one stone to get two of the things on her list done with one action. All ideas should be described on the lines below the list. Group students cooperatively, and give each group a list. After approximately ten minutes, instruct groups to stop working and direct their attention back to you. Ask each group to share ideas it had for Fifi to kill two birds with one stone. (There are many possibilities, several examples have been listed below.) Once students have shared ideas, challenge them to combine more than two activities from the the list, killing three or four (or more!) birds with one stone.
To exercise and work on maintaining her suntan, Fifi could jog in her bathing suit.
To make sure she still has her superior, snobby attitude and call the members of her back-up band, she could use the snobby attitude when she calls them.
To rehearse the hip, new dance she'll be doing in her new video and show off for her adoring fans, she could go to a public place, such as the beach, to rehearse her new dance.
To practice using her beautiful singing voice and to read the movie
script her agent sent her, she could read the script out loud using her
Fifth Grade - Literature - Sayings and Phrases - To Kill Two Birds With
Famous Fifi's "To Do" List
read the movie script my agent sent me
take a long bubble bath
practice using my beautiful singing voice
rehearse the hip dance I'll be doing in my music video
show off for all of my adoring fans
work on maintaining my gorgeous suntan
exercise to keep my body in prime shape
go to jeweler to buy diamond necklace to wear tonight
call the members of my back-up band
make sure I still have my superior, snobby attitude
allow photographer to take pictures of me for magazine cover
Ideas for Fifi to kill two birds with one stone:
Fifth Grade - Literature - Poems - Incident
Read the poem "Incident" by Countee Cullen.
Discuss the content of the poem.
"Incident," for transparency or writing on chart paper (attached)
Hudson, Wade, selected by. Pass It On: African American Poetry for Children. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1993. Contains the poem and an illustration.
Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. New York: Dial Books, 1976. For use in the suggested follow-up activity.
Cullen, Countee. My Soul's High Song. New York: Doubleday, 1954. This is a collection of the poet's works and features an extensive bibliography. There is also a lengthy introduction that contains much information about Cullen's life and writing style.
Hirsch, E.D., ed. What Your 5th Grader Needs To Know. New York:
Doubleday, 1993. "Incident" is on page 59 of this book.
Countee Cullen was an African American poet who shone among the writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Born in 1903, Cullen was raised in New York City by a woman who was probably his paternal grandmother. At the age of 15 he was unofficially adopted by the minister of Harlem's Salem M.E. Church, F.A. Cullen. Countee Cullen received recognition early in his life for his poetry; he won a citywide poetry contest as a schoolboy. Through his college career at New York University and Harvard, Cullen continued to write poetry that was accepted at major American literary magazines. His first collection of poetry, Color, was published in 1925 to critical acclaim. Towards the end of his relatively short life, Cullen's reputation as a poet waned. From 1934 to his death in 1946, he taught in New York City's public schools.
Today's lesson on "Incident" involves much discussion. To extend students'
thinking, be sure to use "wait time" after asking each of the discussion
questions. Additionally, allow students to call on each other to respond
to shared thoughts. Ideally, you should only be the facilitator providing
the questions; students should be able to handle discussing them on their
own. You may even want to encourage students, as the discussion progresses,
to think of their own questions about the content of the poem and to pose
them to classmates.
Begin today's lesson by telling students that they will be reading a poem entitled "Incident" by Countee Cullen. (Write both the title and poet's name on the board.) Tell students that Cullen was an African American poet who was born in 1903 and died in 1946. (Write these dates on the board as well.) Ask: How was life different for African Americans than for whites in the United States during this time period? (Answers will vary, but may include that African Americans experienced discrimination in employment and housing, were subject to inferior health care, and were segregated in most public places, including schools.) Ask: What is an "incident"? (an individual occurrence, event or piece of action) Tell students that the incident that is the subject of the poem occurred right here in Baltimore.
Display the poem and read it aloud to students. Give them a moment to
re-read it to themselves silently, then ask the following discussion questions:
What is the "incident"?
How did conditions that existed at that time for African Americans influence the event?
Would the same incident occur in Baltimore today? Why or why not? Would it occur anywhere? If so, where? If not, why not?
The speaker says that he was "riding" in old Baltimore. Keeping in mind the time period, what do you think he was riding?
The speaker does not say what happened after he was called a name. Given the times, what do you think happened next, if anything?
If the incident were to occur today, what do you think would happen next?
Martin Luther King lived between Countee Cullen's time and your time. How do you think he would have reacted, or how would he have wanted the situation resolved, if it had happened to him or to one of his children?
This poem is full of feeling. What feelings are present in the first stanza? How do these feelings change in the second stanza? In the third stanza?
How do you think the speaker felt about the incident as an adult?
How does he let the reader know that the incident affected him deeply?
How did you feel after reading the poem? Why?
The reader is told that the Baltimorean kept looking straight at the speaker. How did the speaker choose to react to this stare? Why do you think he thought the boy was staring at him? How does this make what happened more wounding?
If you had been the speaker, how would you have reacted? Why?
The poet also makes a point of telling the reader that the person doing the name-calling was a young boy. How does he convey this information? Why do you think he chose to include this information? Why is it important?
Is "Incident" a good title for the poem? Why or why not? What would
you re-title it?
At the end of class, thank students for their participation. Ask for
a volunteer to read the poem one final time out loud for the class.
Suggested Follow-up Activity
Mildred Taylor's novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry takes place
during the same time period as "Incident." In this Newbery Medal-winning
book, an event takes place that is not unlike the one described in the
poem. The main character, a young girl named Cassie, is forced to wait
as a shopkeeper helps every white person who comes in while he's filling
Cassie's order. Cassie is confused, and like the speaker in "Incident,"
assumes initially that his intentions are not racist or malevolent. When
she learns otherwise, she is angry, and later reflects that the events
caused the day to be the cruelest in her life. As a follow-up activity
to the study of "Incident," read an excerpt of Roll of Thunder, Hear
My Cry that includes the description of this event. (Consider beginning
your reading on page 109, after giving students some background as to the
setting and characters.) After reading the excerpt, draw a large Venn Diagram
on the board and have the class compare and contrast the two events. Continue
the discussion that was begun in the Procedure by asking the following
How do you think that Cassie would have reacted if the event described in "Incident" had occurred to her?
Think about the emotions she felt after the shopkeeper treated her so disrespectfully. Which of these emotions do you think were also felt by the speaker in "Incident"?
Which of these two events do you think would be less likely to occur today? Why?
What would you say to the shopkeeper to convince him that his actions
were wrong? To the young boy in "Incident?"
Fifth Grade - Literature - Poems - The Arrow and the Song
Read "The Arrow and the Song" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Compare and contrast the arrow and the song.
Identify the rhyme pattern in the poem.
"The Arrow and the Song" on transparency or chart paper (attached)
For each pair of students:
Copy of the Venn diagram (attached)
Hirsch, E.D., ed. What Your 5th Grader Needs To Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993. "The Arrow and the Song" is on page 58.
Wagenknecht, Edward. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: His Poetry and Prose. New York: Ungar, 1986. This book does contain some background information on "The Arrow and the Song."
Williams, Cecil B. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1964.
This biography of Longfellow includes the scope of his influence on
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) is well-known for his sonnets and his innovative style in writing poems that contain long unrhymed measure that are not blank verse. He was a teacher in two ways: both as a professor at Harvard and in that his poems often contained academic and moral lessons. Students studied another one of Longfellow's poems, "Paul Revere's Ride," in Fourth Grade.
In today's lesson, students read Longfellow's poem "The Arrow and the
Song" and work in pairs to compare and contrast, using a Venn diagram,
what the poet writes about the arrow and what he writes about the song.
They then identify its rhyme pattern and explore its meaning through group
Tell students that the poem they will be reading today was written by one of America's most famous poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (Write this name on the board.) Ask: Who recognizes this name? What famous poem of his did you read in Fourth Grade? ("Paul Revere's Ride") Tell students that the title of the poem they will be reading today is "The Arrow and the Song," and write this title on the board as well. Inform students that in the poem, Longfellow compares an arrow to a song. Direct students to think creatively to answer this question: How are an arrow and a song alike? Allow five minutes of brainstorming by the class as a whole.
Tell students that they will now see how Longfellow compared these two
things, and display the poem. Read it aloud to students as they follow
along silently. Then, ask students to re-read it to themselves. Pair students
and distribute the Venn diagrams, instructing them to work together to
complete the Venn diagram by comparing and contrasting the arrow and the
song in the poem. Assist students in the completion of this assignment
by telling them to think about the actions, locations and characteristics
of both, as described by Longfellow. After sufficient time, ask pairs to
share ways in which the arrow and the song are alike, and ways in which
they differ. A table of possible answers is provided below.
|was shot into the air
was found in an oak
|were sent into the air
could not be found at first
couldn't be seen in flight
were found whole
|was breathed into the air
was found in a friend
Once students have shared the content of their Venn diagrams, ask: Can a song really fall to earth, or fly? (No) Tell students that Longfellow has cleverly likened the song to an arrow, and has given it the same characteristics as an arrow. This allows us to imagine the song's action. Ask: If a song were to fly, what do you think its flight would look like? Would it be straight and fast like an arrow, or would it float like a feather, or would it zip around and hover like a hummingbird? (Answers will vary.) Tell students that like the action of flight, Longfellow's poem encourages the reader to imagine that the song really landed in the heart of a friend, the way an arrow would land in an oak tree. Ask: How might it be possible to find a song in the heart of a friend? (Answers will vary, but may include if one teaches a song to a friend, or if a friend sings a familiar song to you.)
Now have students examine the structure of the poem. Ask: How many stanzas are there? (three) What is the purpose of the first stanza? (to describe the action of the arrow) What is the purpose of the second stanza? (to describe the action of the song) What about the third stanza's purpose? (to tell where each was found) What is the rhyme pattern in each stanza? (A A B B)
To end today's lesson, ask a volunteer to read the poem aloud for the
Suggested Follow-up Activities
Challenge the students to memorize the poem, and to recite it individually
or in pairs for the class on a given date. You will need to allow the students
to copy the poem onto paper so that they can take it home to practice,
and may want to offer a small prize or special recognition for those who
meet the challenge successfully.
Longfellow compares a song to an arrow because he claims that both fly through the air and land in a particular place. What would you compare a song to? Think about other characteristics of a song, for example its tendency to play itself again and again in the mind, or its ability to get soldiers marching to a beat, or the way it can make you feel better if you are feeling blue. In a short paragraph, select another item to compare with a song, and describe the characteristics that are alike. For extra credit, contrast the object with the song as well. Be creative!
The Arrow and the Song
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
Fifth Grade - Literature - Stories - Tom Sawyer
Design a map of the setting of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Summarize the plot in comic strip form.
Identify Twain's literary craft of humor.
Interpret and describe an event from another character's point of view.
Respond to journal prompts.
Create a "Plot Cube" depicting five important events in the story. (optional)
Develop a dramatization of dialogue from the story. (optional)
Yep, Laurence. The Mark Twain Murders. New York: Four Winds Press, 1982. This is a mystery set in San Francisco during the Civil War in which Mark Twain (then a reporter) helps to solve several murders. The story, which is based on actual events, is told through the eyes of a fifteen year old street urchin whom Mark befriends. The reading level may be advanced for some fifth graders.
Cobblestone, May 1984. This issue of the popular children's magazine is entitled "The World of Mark Twain." It is full of interesting articles about Samuel Clemens and is written at a level appropriate for fifth graders. Back issues of the magazine can be ordered by calling Cobblestone Publishing at (603) 924-7209, or by writing Cobblestone, 28 Main Street, Peterborough, NH 03458.
Clemens, Samuel. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. New York: Bantam Books, 1981. This the classic version of the story.
Hetzel, June. Responding to Literature. Cypress, CA: Creative Teaching Press, 1993. This book contains lots of ideas and reproducibles designed for students to use to explore the characters, plot and setting of any book.
Hirsch, E.D., ed. What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993. Source of the excerpt of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer attached to this lesson.
Moen, Christine Boardman. Better Than Book Reports. New York:
Scholastic Professional Books, 1992. This book is full of project ideas
that are easily adapted to suit whatever story your students are reading.
Example comic strip on transparency or chart paper
For each student
A large sheet of blank paper or poster board
Colored pencils or markers
One or more copies of the comic strip sheet (attached)
A copy of the worksheet entitled Literary Craft: Humor (attached)
An empty cube-shaped box, such as those used to hold tissues (optional)
White or light-colored construction paper (optional)
A copy of both pages of the box pattern (attached and optional)
A photocopy of the excerpt(s) being read from The Adventures of Tom
Sawyer (optional, but optimal for several of the activities)
This month, the featured story is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Students will read, or have read, a portion of this classic as a part of Reading Mastery VI, Lessons 91-120. You may choose to use the excerpts provided there, the excerpt attached from What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know, or may select your own excerpts directly from the book. The activities that follow can be modified, if necessary, to suit whatever portion of the text students read. Several of the activities could be used with virtually any book, and should be considered when you are planning future literature lessons.
If you choose to use the book as your source of excerpts, you may want to read portions aloud, as Twain wrote with great expression. You may also want to photocopy portions for students to read on their own, or to read to each other.
Prior to the reading of any excerpt of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer introduce the author to students. Tell students that they are about to read a portion of a famous book by Mark Twain. (Write "Mark Twain" on the board.) Tell students that this name is very famous, but is not the real name of the man who used it! "Mark Twain" was the name Samuel Clemens (write this name on the board as well) used as an author. (If you have already taught the lesson on pseudonyms, remind students of what they learned about how Clemens chose the pseudonym Mark Twain.) Samuel Clemens was born in 1835 in Missouri and died in 1910. After writing these dates on the board, ask: What do you know about the time period in which Clemens lived? (Students should at least be able to describe both Westward Expansion and the Civil War, as these are topics covered in American History in the Fifth Grade.) Tell students that indeed, this was an exciting, eventful time in America's past. Clemens, too, claimed that he was "born excited," and his life was certainly eventful. He left home at an early age to explore the country, and in his explorations found himself in a variety of jobs. Clemens, at various times and in various places, was a printer, a river boat pilot, a reporter, a prospector for silver, an editor, a second lieutenant in a group of Confederate volunteers, and, perhaps most importantly, a writer. Ask: How do you think that all of these experiences influenced Clemens's writing? (Answers will vary.) Clemens had an uncommon personality, and was known as a "character." He enjoyed the company of other people and counted Ulysses S. Grant and Helen Keller among his friends. Even in his old age, Clemens never lost his spirit of adventure. He traveled around the world, invented a history game and learned how to ride a bicycle. His writings are often humorous, and are based both on his own experience and his observations of the world around him.
After you have introduced students to the author known as Mark Twain, tell them that they will be reading a portion of one of his most famous books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. (Write this title on the board.) Inform students that the book takes place in a small town like the one where Clemens was raised, and takes place during the same time period as his own life. Tom Sawyer, the main character, is a boy who is busy investigating and exploring the things he finds interesting, and trying to avoid the things he does not enjoy. The character of Tom Sawyer is based on a combination of personality traits found in three boys that Clemens knew when he was
young; Huckleberry Finn is also based on a childhood friend of Clemens. (Depending on the excerpt you read, you may need to give additional background information.) Tell students that you hope they enjoy meeting one of the most memorable characters in American literature!
Distribute or read the excerpt you have selected for students. If more
than one excerpt will be used, it is recommended that you alternate reading
the selections with the activities below.
Map It Out
Depending on which excerpt students read, it may be possible for them
to make a map of Tom's neighborhood or town, or a blueprint of Aunt Polly's
house. Provide students with a large sheet of blank paper or poster board
and colored pencils or markers. Instruct students to go back to the excerpt
and look for elements they should include. (To avoid frustration, provide
each student with his or her own copy of the excerpt to reference while
creating the map.) Additionally, students should make sure that their maps
have the required parts such as a title, map key and compass rose. Though
the elements should be taken from the reading, students may want to use
their imagination to fill them out. For example, in Aunt Polly's kitchen,
there may be a pie cooling on the window sill, or perhaps there are lace
curtains hanging in Becky Thatcher's bedroom window. Students will also
have some liberty in regard to the location of some places; though the
schoolhouse, or graveyard, may be mentioned and should be included, the
position in relation to other places is up to the student. Once maps are
completed, students should share them with one another, as it may be interesting
for them to see how others envisioned the same setting. Prompt students
to notice which elements are common to all the maps, and which aspects
were products of the imaginations of the map makers. This activity would
be a good one to use after the first excerpt, if more than one excerpt
is being read, as the completion of the map may help students to visualize
other events taking place in the setting they have created, thus improving
comprehension. Students may also enjoy adding to their maps as they learn
more about the setting.
Plot it Out in a Comic Strip
To help students learn to differentiate important plot developments from interesting, but unimportant, details, have them summarize the plot in comic strip form. To get students thinking about the process, display on the overhead or on chart paper an example of a comic strip. Have students note how the action progresses from frame to frame, and how the author/artist depicts the order in which people speak through the use of layered conversation bubbles. Ask: What does an author/artist do when the story is too long for one strip? (Answers will vary, but elicit, if necessary that some comics continue in serial form, and others are released in the form of a comic book.)
Tell students that they will be summarizing the plot of the excerpt
they read from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by creating a comic
strip in serial form, or a short comic book. Instruct them to think first
about the major events in the story excerpt, and which occurrences need
to be drawn so that the reader understands what is going on. (If you deem
it necessary, have students complete a sequence chain first to direct their
efforts in making the comic strip.) Tell students that although some of
the action in the story is interesting, it is not so important that it
needs to be included in the comic strip. If they were to include all the
details, they'd never finish the assignment! Explain to students that once
they have decided which events need to be portrayed, they should begin
to draw them and the accompanying dialogue on the comic strip sheet (display
the sheet). (As an alternative to writing dialogue, students may draw the
sequence of events and write a caption under each.) Tell students that
they may use more than one sheet, but if they use more than three sheets
(or an appropriate number based on the length of the excerpt), they may
be including too many unimportant details. Once you are confident that
students understand how to complete this assignment, distribute the comic
strip sheets and colored pencils or markers. Instruct each student to title
the comic strip with an appropriate name, considering the events that will
take place in it, and write it on the top line. Under the title, students
should write that the story is by Mark Twain but write their own name in
the blank after "drawn and retold by." (If more than one page is used,
tell students to write "continued" next to the title on subsequent pages.)
It is important for students to remember not to spend so much time drawing
the action in each frame that they run out of time to complete the strip,
so you may want to post the time remaining at appropriate intervals. Once
students have completed the assignment, collect it for grading purposes
and display a selection of the strips on a bulletin board.
Literary Craft: Humor
Tell students that just as an artist strengthens his or her talent through practice in a particular medium, such as painting or sculpture, so does a writer refine his or her talent in a particular style and format of writing. One writer may find that he has a natural talent for writing mysteries, so he may practice this type of writing, hoping to publish mystery books. Another writer may find that poetry is especially enjoyable for her to write, so this is the area in which she devotes her time. Ask: What field, or literary craft, do you think Mark Twain concentrated on? (humorous stories) Tell students that as a boy, Samuel Clemens learned to take great pleasure in making people laugh. He often made up fabulous stories and told them to entertain neighbors. Even as an adult, Clemens's tendency to elaborate to make people chuckle was apparent. When he worked for a newspaper, he couldn't resist the urge to occasionally invent a story and print it with the intention of making readers smile. (He thought writing only the truth got boring.) The problem was, sometimes the readers didn't know the story was fictional! This did get Clemens into trouble, and so perhaps it is best that he decided to pursue writing fiction rather than being a reporter.
Tell students that they will be taking a closer look at the humorous
style of Mark Twain. Distribute the worksheet entitled "Literary Craft:
Humor" and a copy of the excerpt students read from The Adventures of
Tom Sawyer, if possible. Instruct students to read the worksheet directions
carefully and complete it independently. When students are finished, if
time permits, review the worksheet with the class and ask for volunteers
to share their responses. Finally, collect the worksheet for grading purposes.
According to Who?
Ask students: Have you ever been in a disagreement with someone, and
when both you and the other person are asked, "What happened?" two very
different versions of the same event are given? Tell students that The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer is written in the third person. (Define and
discuss what this means with students, if necessary.) How might the event(s)
they read about be described differently if it were written through the
perspective of one of the characters, such as Aunt Polly or Mr. Dobbins,
the school master? Tell students to choose the perspective of one of the
characters from the excerpt they read. They should then write a retelling
of the event in the excerpt as if they were this character. Encourage students
to put "voice" into their writing and to elaborate on the event. When students
have completed this assignment, ask for volunteers to read their versions
aloud. Have students note which aspects of the event remain the same in
all the versions, and which details differ according to who is telling
the story. Be sure to compliment students on their creativity.
Tell students that Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
for boys and girls to enjoy, but also had an objective in mind for the
adults who would read the story. He wanted The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
to remind grown-ups that they were once boys and girls too, and hoped the
story would prompt them to remember how they felt and thought during this
time in their lives. Additionally, he hoped that reading Tom Sawyer's actions
would prompt adults to recall the escapades of their own youth. Instruct
students to keep in mind Twain's goals as they respond to the following
How does Twain, in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, try to get adults to remember what it was like to be children? Use examples from the reading to support your answer.
Do you think Twain met his goal; would adults reading The Adventures
of Tom Sawyer remember their own childhood? Tell why you think the
book succeeds in this way, or why it doesn't.
Adults frequently have fond memories of childhood, and the things they
did as children. What are some things that only kids do that adults wish
that they could still do?
When you are an adult, which event in your life will be one of your
fond memories of when you were a boy or girl? Describe this recollection.
What kind of person do you think Tom Sawyer would grow up to be? Describe the personality of an adult Tom, and support your opinion regarding his character traits with information from the reading. (For example, you might say that Tom would be a smart business man because of the way he convinced his friends to whitewash the fence for him.)
Plot Cube (optional)
Instruct each student to bring in an empty, cube-shaped box, or provide one to each student. If this is not possible, allow students to share a box and complete the activity in pairs. You may also choose to use the box pattern attached to this lesson. (If this is done, instruct students to cut out both parts, do the illustrations on sides marked with "x"s and "o"s, then glue the lip marked "O" under the panel marked "o" and the lip marked "X" under the panel marked "x." Folds should be made on all of the solid lines to create a box, and the panels outlined with a dotted line should be tucked into the top and bottom to complete the box.) Students will also need enough white or light-colored construction paper to cover all six sides of their boxes and crayons, colored pencils or markers, as well as scissors and glue.
Tell students that they will be creating a "plot cube." They will cover
all six sides of their box with the paper, cut to fit the box. On the paper
that will go on the top panel of the box, students should write the title
and author of the book, and their name(s). On the paper to go on the remaining
five sides, students should draw pictures depicting important events in
the plot. Discuss with students briefly how to select what events would
be deemed important. Once they have decided what events to include on their
plot cube, they will need to refer to the text to make sure that their
pictures are accurate. So that the cubes are neat, demonstrate for students
how to trace the shape of a side of a box onto the paper, then cut it so
that it fits the side exactly. Students should be instructed to cut the
paper and draw the scene before gluing the paper to the box. Once all students
have completed this project, display the plot cubes along a window sill,
or on a table in the hallway. If more than one excerpt from The Adventures
of Tom Sawyer is read, this activity would be a good culminating one,
as students could cover the sides with events from each of the excerpts
Dramatic Dialogue (optional)
Tell students that Mark Twain once wrote that the ability to speak thoughts
well was far superior than the ability to put them down on paper. Once
Twain became a famous writer, he often was engaged to lecture, (which for
Twain, meant telling stories and making humorous observations) in front
of audiences around the world. Twain's appreciation for the spoken word
is apparent in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in the conversations
that take place between his characters. Some of the best examples occur
between Tom and Huckleberry Finn and other boys, between Tom and Mr. Dobbins
the school master, and between Aunt Polly and Tom. Have small groups of
two or three students (depending on the number of characters in the scene)
select a dialogue to dramatize in front of the class. If the amount of
conversation is too much for students to memorize, they can write what
they need to say on an index card, but the words should be read dramatically.
This also provides students with an opportunity to practice voice and diction,
and you should emphasize that other students should not only hear and understand
what is said, but should be able to imagine that it really is Aunt Polly
(or any other character) speaking. Encourage students to therefore think
about how their assigned character would sound, and to practice what they
are to say in a clear and slow manner. Students should also use gestures
and facial expression to make the dialogue seem more authentic. When students
have finished preparing their dialogues, have them perform in front of
Fifth Grade - Literature - Stories - Tom Sawyer
Literary Craft: Humor
Mark Twain is famous for the humor in his writing. What did he write
in the excerpt you read to try to make you chuckle or smile? Write this
example of Twain's humor on the lines provided below.
What would you change in what he wrote to make it even funnier?
Mark Twain once said, "Humor is mankind's greatest blessing." What do
you think he meant by this?
Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
Fifth Grade - Literature - Stories - Tom Sawyer
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
(retold with excerpts from the novel by Mark Twain)
Read the excerpt from What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch
Fifth Grade - Literature - About Literature - What is a Pseudonym?
Match fictitious authors to their pseudonyms, based on their reason for using a pseudonym.
Describe various reasons to use a pseudonym.
Create an original pseudonym and explain its meaning.
Hirsch, E.D. What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know. New York:
Doubleday, 1993. Contains background information for this lesson.
For each cooperative group
A copy of the "Who's Who?" worksheet.
This lesson familiarizes students with the use of pseudonyms. After listening to a description of what a pseudonym is, students are put into groups and complete an activity designed to teach them the reasons why an author may choose to use a pseudonym. After the completion of the activity, in which students match fictitious authors to their pseudonyms based on their reasons for using a pseudonym, students should be able to tell why pseudonyms are sometimes used. They then hear how Samuel Clemens chose the pseudonym Mark Twain, and create their own pseudonym based on personal meaning. Finally, the class constructs a definition for the word "pseudonym."
Reference is made to Louisa May Alcott, who wrote the Little Women
excerpt students read in March. Reference is also made to Samuel Clemens,
a.k.a. Mark Twain, and some students have read an excerpt of his classic
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as a part of Reading Mastery VI, Lessons
Begin today's lesson by telling students to imagine that they have just printed a book they worked very hard to write. Ask them to imagine how it would feel to see their book, complete with their name in large, gold letters on the cover, on display in the windows of book stores. Ask students to share the feelings created by imagining this. Then, tell them that not every writer uses his or her own real name when publishing a book. Some authors choose to print their work using a made-up name called a pseudonym. (Write on the board.) Tell students that the word pseudonym comes from two Greek words, "pseudo," meaning "false" and "nym," meaning "name."
Tell students that to find out why some authors use a false name, or pseudonym, they will complete an activity in groups. Put students into cooperative groups and distribute the "Who's Who?" worksheet. Read the directions with students to confirm they understand what to do, then allow groups approximately five minutes to discuss and complete the worksheet. After five minutes, direct groups to end their discussions. Ask: What are some of the reasons why pseudonyms are used? (if the writing could get the author into trouble; if the author is a woman and fears she won't be taken seriously if she publishes using a feminine name; if the writing is work the author is not proud of; if using a pseudonym is fashionable) Which pseudonym did you assign to each author on the worksheet? (#1 is Will B. Ayman [will be a man]; #2 is Vare E. Hip [very hip]; #3 is N. Yurfase [in your face]; #4 is M. Barrast [embarrassed].)
Tell students that two authors they may be familiar with have used pseudonyms: Louisa May Alcott and Samuel Clemens. Ask: What well-known book did Louisa May Alcott write? (Little Women) Remind students that the Alcott family was rather poor, and that the reason why Louisa wrote children's books is because they sold well and made money she could use to help her family. In addition to writing children's books, Louisa wrote mystery stories for publication in a magazine. These stories also made money she used to help support her family, but she felt that this writing was not quality literature. She insisted that the editor of the magazine print her pseudonym, A.M. Barnard, as the author. Even when the editors offered her more money if she allowed the stories to be printed under her own name, she refused.
Tell students that they may be more familiar with Samuel Clemens's pseudonym than they are with his real name. Ask: Does anyone know the pseudonym Samuel Clemens used? (Mark Twain) Tell students that they may have read all or parts of Clemens's book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Tell students that in Clemens's time, the mid to late 1800s, using a pen name was very fashionable. Clemens's pen name came from his experience on boats on the Mississippi River. The Mississippi becomes shallow at some points, and it became necessary to make sure the water was deep enough for a boat to pass through. Someone on board would toss a weighted rope with markings on it into the water. The markings on the rope measured how many fathoms (a fathom is six feet) deep the water was. The person throwing the rope would call out "Mark twain!" if the markings showed that the water was two fathoms deep, a safe depth for the boats Clemens worked on.
Tell students to imagine that they have just written a book, and are going to have it published under a pseudonym, for any one of the various reasons they learned about today. Ask students to create a pseudonym from their own personal history, as Twain did. The pseudonym may have something to do with their hobbies or interests, or may be based on an experience they have had, or a favorite place. Encourage students to be creative! After sufficient time, ask students to share their pseudonyms and the reasoning behind them, either with the class as a whole, or in pairs.
To summarize the class, ask students to answer the following question
in their own words: What is a pseudonym? After as many students as possible
have defined the term in their own words, discuss how to combine the important
aspects from each student's answer to construct a class definition. Write
this definition on the board next to the word "pseudonym."
Suggested Follow-up Activity
Using the "Who's Who?" worksheet, have students in small groups think
of what a vanity tag for each of the authors could be. They may choose
to think of tags that use letters the in the same way the pseudonyms did
(for example, the tag for Vare E. Hip could be NSTYLE) or the tag could
be a further expression of the reason for using a pseudonym (for example,
the tag for M. Barrast could be SHAME).
Directions: Read the description of each fictitious author. Using clues
in the description, draw a line to match each author with his or her pseudonym.
#1: I am an author who lived during
a time when only the writing of
men was taken seriously. Because I
was a woman, I decided to use a M. Barrast
pseudonym so that people would assume
I was a man, and would pay attention
to my ideas.
#2: During the time I lived, it was very
stylish for authors to use pseudonyms. Will B. Ayman
I decided to use a pseudonym in keeping
with the latest fashion among writers.
#3: My writing was very honest and critical
of important, powerful people. I used Vare E. Hip
a pseudonym so that I would not have
to worry about their revenge.
#4: I was a struggling writer who decided to
publish some of my terrible poems, just
so that I could pay the bills. I used a N. Yurfase
pseudonym so that none of my family
and friends would know that the awful
work was mine.
Cobblestone, May 1984.
D'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin. Abraham Lincoln. Garden City: Doubleday, 1970. (0-385-07674-6)
Jacobs, William Jay. Lincoln. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1991. (0-684-19274-8)
Kent, Zachary. Cornerstones of Freedom: The Story of John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry. Chicago: Children's Press, 1988. (0-516-04734)
*Lincoln, Abraham. The Gettysburg Address. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1995. (0-395-69824-3)
McGovern, Ann. If You Grew Up with Abraham Lincoln. New York: Scholastic, 1992. (0-590-45154-5)
Otfinoski, Steven. Speaking Up, Speaking Out: A Kid's Guide To Making Speeches, Oral Reports, and Conversation. Brookfield: The Millbrook Press, 1996. (1-56294-345)
Yep, Laurence. The Mark Twain Murders. New York: Four Winds Press, 1982. (0-02-793670-8)
Cullen, Countee. My Soul's High Song. New York: Doubleday, 1954. (0-385-41295-9)
Freedman, Russell. Lincoln: A Photobiography. New York: Clarion, 1987. (0-89919-380-3)
Hakim, Joy. A History of US: War, Terrible War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. (0-669-36837-7)
Hirsch, E.D., ed. What Your 5th Grader Needs To Know. New York: Doubleday, 1993. (0-385-31464-7)
Meltzer, Milton, ed. Lincoln: In His Own Words. New York: Harcourt Brace, and Co., 1993. (0-15-24-5437-3)
Vassalo, Wanda. Speaking With Confidence: A Guide For Public Speakers. Whitehall: Betterway Publications, Inc., 1990. (1-55870-147-8)
Wagenknecht, Edward. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: His Poetry and Prose. New York: Ungar, 1986. (0-8044-2960-X)
Whitman, Walt. Everyman: Leaves Of Grass and Selected Prose. London: J. M. Dent, 1993 (0-460-87475-6)
Williams, Cecil B. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1964.
Clemens, Samuel. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. New York: Bantam Books, 1981.(0-553-21128-5)
Hetzel, June. Responding to Literature. Cypress, CA: Creative Teaching Press, 1993.
Hudson, Wade, selected by. Pass It On: African American Poetry for Children. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1993. (0-590-45771-3)
Moen, Christine Boardman. Better Than Book Reports. New York: Scholastic Professional Books, 1992. (0-590-49213-6)
Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. New York: Dial Books, 1976. (0-8037-7473-7)
*Strongly recommended for lessons