Analyzing Character: Louie Zamperini | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M3A:U1:L2

Analyzing Character: Louie Zamperini

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can determine the meaning of words and phrases in text (figurative, connotative, and technical meanings). (RI.8.4)
  • I can cite text-based evidence that provides the strongest support for an analysis of informational text. (RI.8.1)
  • I can analyze how specific dialogue or incidents in a plot propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision. (RL.8.3)

Supporting Targets

  • I can deepen my understanding of key words in Unbroken by using a vocabulary square.
  • I can cite evidence that supports my analysis of Unbroken.
  • I can analyze how incidents in Unbroken reveal aspects of Louie's character.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Unbroken structured notes, preface, pages 3-6 (from homework)
  • Vocabulary Square
  • QuickWrite: Allusions


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Engaging the Reader: Structured Notes Vocabulary Square (5 minutes)

    B. Reviewing the Learning Targets (3 minutes)

    2. Work Time 

    A. New Discussion Appointments: Pacific Theater Partners (8 minutes)
    B. Inferring Character: Chalkboard Splash (15 minutes)
    C. Turn and Talk: Building on Homework (7 minutes)

    3. Closing and Assessment

    A. QuickWrite and Preview Homework (7 minutes)

    4. Homework

    A. Complete a first read of pages 6-12 in Unbroken and complete the structured notes.

    • Students set up Discussion Appointments with five peers; these appointments will be used for peer conversation throughout the module. This routine builds on students' work in Module 2, gradually encouraging them to work with more and more of their classmates. These discussion structures support students' mastery of SL.8.1.
    • It is important to note that responses to literature are written in present tense. Therefore, structured note summaries and answers to focus questions should be written in present tense.
    • In advance: Review the Four Square vocabulary activity (Module 2A, Unit 1, Lesson 11) and Discussion Appointments (Module 2A, Unit 1, Lesson 3) review the Chalkboard Splash protocol (Appendix).
    • Post: Learning targets.


    allusion; loped (3), transfixed (4), corralled (5), untamable, insurgency (6), theater (as in "military theater")


    • Materials
    • Vocabulary Square (one per student)
    • Discussion Appointments: Pacific Theater Partners (one per student)
    • Timer (optional; for teacher use)
    • UnbrokenA World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (one per student)
    • Blank sentence strips (one per student)
    • QuickWrite: Allusions (one per student)
    • Unbroken structured notes, pages 6-12 (one per student)
    • Unbroken supported structured notes, pages 6-12 (optional; for students needing additional support)
    • Unbroken Structured Notes Teacher Guide, pages 6-12 (for teacher reference)
    • Posting learning targets allows students to reference them throughout the lesson to check their understanding. It also provides a reminder to students and teachers about the intended learning behind a given lesson or activity.


    OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

    A. Engaging the Reader: Structured Notes Vocabulary Square (5 minutes)

    • Ask students to take out the Unbroken structured notes, preface, pages 3-6 they completed for homework. Distribute a Vocabulary Square to each student.
    • Invite students to work with a partner to choose a word they defined from the homework and complete the Vocabulary Square like the one used in Module 2A (see Teaching Note). Students may work together, but they should each complete their own square. Circulate and monitor students as they work.
    • Collect the Vocabulary Squares as a formative assessment. Consider displaying student exemplars of each word from the chapter.

    B. Reviewing the Learning Targets (3 minutes)

    • Direct the class's attention to the posted learning targets. Read the three learning targets aloud.
    • Remind students that this is a work of literary nonfiction, but it is written like a story. Louie is a real person, but Hillenbrand writes about him almost as if he's a character in a novel. Sometimes they will analyze Hillenbrand's book more like a novel.
    • Posting learning targets allows students to reference them throughout the lesson to check their understanding. It also provides a reminder to students and teachers about the intended learning behind a given lesson or activity.

    Work Time

    Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

    A. New Discussion Appointments: Pacific Theater Partners (8 minutes)

    • Distribute the Discussion Appointments: Pacific Theater Partners handout. Explain that the "Pacific Theater" is the name for the area where fighting took place in the Pacific during World War II.
    • Tell students they will continue using the Discussion Appointments protocol in Module 3 and that these new Discussion Appointments will give them an opportunity to work with some new partners. Being able to talk to a lot of classmates will give them more ideas for discussing and writing about the texts during this module. Reinforce that discussion is one strong way to deepen their understanding of a text.
    • Give the following directions for making Discussion Appointments:

    1. You will quietly move around the room to sign up for five appointments with five different partners.

    2. For each location on the map, you may have only one appointment.

    3. If someone asks you for an appointment and that location is available, you need to accept the appointment.

    4. In the blank next to each location, write the name of your appointment partner.

    5. Once you have made all five appointments, return to your seat.

    • Give students 4 minutes to make their Discussion Appointments. Consider setting a timer to help them stay focused and do this task quickly. Circulate to support or clarify as needed.
    • About halfway through this signup process, check with the class to see who needs appointments in various locations. You can do this by asking: "Raise your hand if you need an appointment in Pearl Harbor." As students raise their hands, match them up.
    • Once they have their sheets filled out, ask students to return to their seats. Tell them that they will work with these Discussion Appointment partners regularly.
    • Remind them that if their partner is absent on a given day or they do not have a partner for a particular location, they should report to you at the front of the room and you will tell them with whom to meet.
    • Appointments are a way for students to work with different classmates, leading to mixed-ability groupings. Mixed-ability groupings of students for regular discussion and close reading exercises will provide a collaborative and supportive structure for reading complex texts.

    B. Inferring Character: Chalkboard Splash (15 minutes)

    • Ask students to get out their text, Unbroken. Explain that you will read pages 3-6 aloud. They should follow along silently as you do this and look for details that reveal Louie's character.
    • In a fluent manner, read pages 3-6 of Unbroken aloud as students read along silently in their heads.
    • Distribute a blank sentence strip to each student. While you are doing this, ask students to once again take out the structured notes from their homework.
    • Invite students to write on the sentence strip a detail from the reading that reveals Louie's character. Instruct them to use their structured notes for additional support if needed. Ask students to place their sentence strip on the wall for a Chalkboard Splash. Invite the class to review all the "splashes" of detail.
    • Hearing a complex text read slowly, fluently, and without interruption or explanation promotes fluency for students. They are hearing a strong reader read the text aloud with accuracy and expression and are simultaneously looking at and thinking about the words on the printed page. Be sure to set clear expectations that students read along silently in their heads as you read the text aloud.

    C. Turn and Talk: Building on Homework (7 minutes)

    • Ask students to take their text Unbroken and their structured notes and sit with their Pearl Harbor Discussion Appointment partner.
    • Invite them to use their structured notes and the "splash" that the class just did, and to turn and talk with their partner:

    * "Based on your reading of the preface and pages 3-6, how would you describe Louie's character?"

    • As pairs discuss, circulate and monitor. Listen for details such as "one-boy insurgency," "couldn't bear to be corralled," or other examples from the homework.
    • Focus students' whole group. Cold call one or two to share responses.
    • Ask students to discuss the focus question from their homework with their partner:

    * "What aspects of his character may have helped him survive his situation described in the preface?"

    • As pairs turn and talk, circulate and monitor. Listen for details such as "tough character," "energy," and "lack of fear."
    • Focus student's whole group. Cold call two or three to share responses.

    Closing & Assessments

    ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

    A. QuickWrite and Independent Writing (7 minutes)

    • Hand out the QuickWrite: Allusions.
    • Remind students that when they complete a QuickWrite, they need to answer the prompt completely, use the strongest evidence, explain the evidence, and include a focus statement and conclusion.
    • Before beginning the QuickWrite, ensure that students understand who Adolf Hitler and Anne Frank were. (For example: "During WWII, Adolf Hitler was the leader of the Nazi Party in Germany and attempted to create a "pure race" through the use of anti-Semitism and concentration camps. Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis in an attic in Amsterdam. During this time, she kept a diary, which was discovered and made famous.")
    • Invite students to begin the QuickWrite and allow them 5 minutes to complete it. Collect it and then preview the homework. "Compare the essay and the poem."
    • Cold call a few pairs of students to share their thoughts. Listen for them to notice that both the essay and the poem focus on survival and require the use of textual evidence; that the essay is about Salva and the poem about Salva and Nya; that the poem uses the novel and informational text; and that a poem is trying to convey experience rather than make an argument.
    • Some students may benefit from having paragraph frames as a scaffold for QuickWrites. 


    HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
    • Complete a first read of pages 6-12 in Unbroken and complete the Unbroken structured notes, pages 6-12. Answer the focus question: "On page 7, Hillenbrand writes, 'When history carried him into war, this resilient optimism would define him.' How is Louie resilient and optimistic? What does it mean to 'define him'? Use the strongest evidence from the book to support your answer."
    • Consider providing supported structured notes for students who struggle.

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