Close Reading: Louie’s Change of Heart | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M3A:U1:L3

Close Reading: Louie’s Change of Heart

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can cite text-based evidence that provides the strongest support for an analysis of informational text. (RI.8.1)
  • I can analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of characters and narrators in a literary text. (RL 7.6)
  • I can write narrative texts about real or imagined experiences using relevant details and event sequences that make sense. (W 7.3)

Supporting Targets

  • I can use a Frayer Model to deepen my understanding of words in Unbroken.
  • I can analyze the impact of word choice on meaning and tone in Unbroken.
  • I can cite evidence that supports my analysis of Unbroken

Ongoing Assessment

  • Unbroken structured notes, pages 6-12 (from homework)
  • Text-dependent questions


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Engaging the Reader: Frayer Model (10 minutes)
B. Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Close Reading: Louie's Change of Heart (20 minutes)
B. Understanding Louie: Character Traits Anchor Chart (8 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Debrief Learning Targets and Preview Homework (5 minutes)

4. Homework

A. Complete a first read of pages 13-18 in Unbroken and fill in the structured notes.

  • In this lesson, students deepen their understanding of the term resilient, a key vocabulary word and character trait that enables Louie to survive his ordeal. In the Opening of this lesson, there is a suggested example (Gabby Giffords) to share with students. Based on your students' background knowledge, consider providing a different real-world example of resilience.
  • This is the first close reading lesson of the unit, providing an opportunity for students to analyze Louie's character and how he changes.
  • Louie's character traits and details from the book will be collected on a class anchor chart.
  • In advance: Review Close Reading Guide: Unbroken Pages 9-12 (for teacher reference; see supporting materials); review Fist to Five protocol (see Appendix 1).
  • Post: Learning 


skulked (6), magnum opus, resilient/resilience, optimism, define (7), surreptitious (10), eugenics, pseudoscience (11)


  • Discussion Appointments: Pacific Theater Partners (from Lesson 2; one per student)
  • Resilient: Frayer Model (one per student and one to display)
  • Document camera
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (book; one per student)
  • Close Reading Guide:Unbroken Pages 9-12 (for teacher reference)
  • Louie's Change of Heart: Text-Dependent Questions (one per student)
  • Understanding Louie: Character Traits anchor chart (new; teacher-created)
  • Unbroken structured notes, pages 13-18 (one per student)
  • Unbroken supported structured notes, pages 13-18 (optional; for students needing additional support)
  • Unbroken Structured Notes Teacher Guide, pages 13-18 (for teacher reference)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Reader: Frayer Model (10 minutes)

  • Ask students to look at their Discussion Appointments: Pacific Theater Partners handout and sit with their Midway partners.
  • Distribute the Resilient: Frayer Model handout to each student and display one copy on the document camera. Orient students to each of the four boxes and explain that they will be learning about resilience and will use this Frayer Model organizer to help them.
  • Draw students' attention to the Examples box in the lower left corner of the chart. Allow them to share out responses to this question:

* "What are some examples of being resilient in the book or in life?"

  • Examples of being resilient from life or society might include someone who overcomes a serious illness and goes back to work and maybe even inspires others. For example, Gabby Giffords, a former member of the House of Representatives who was shot in the head in 2011, became an activist for gun control after a long and difficult recovery. An example from Unbroken could come from the preface, when Louie is the only one of the men on the raft who jumps back in the water when the plane flies over. Share these examples if students cannot come up with any on their own.
  • Invite them to turn and talk with their partner:

* "What is another example of resilience from Unbroken and from real life?"

  • If necessary, point out that resilient is an adjective (describing a person, place, or thing), and resilience is the noun form. Listen for students to mention Louie getting caught again and again and still pulling pranks, or getting beaten up repeatedly and not giving in and continuing to go to school. Real-life examples could include other famous people who have overcome adversity or people they actually know.
  • Cold call two or three pairs to share out whole group and record their responses on the displayed model of the Resilient: Frayer Model.
  • Next, draw students' attention to the Definition box in the upper left corner. Invite them to turn and talk with a partner about what resilient means. Remind them that this was a vocabulary word in previous lessons.
  • Cold call several pairs to share out a definition. Record a consensus definition on the displayed model. You might write something like: "Resilient means bouncing back from adversity or recovering quickly." This would be a good opportunity to explain that resilient comes from the Latin resilire, which means "to spring back."
  • Next, draw students' attention to the Characteristics/Explanation box in the upper right corner of the handout. Ask students to turn and talk with their partner:

* "What characteristics, or qualities, does a resilient person have?"

  • Invite one or two volunteer pairs to share out whole group. Listen for characteristics like: "strength," "ability to overcome adversity or trouble," "continuing on in spite of difficulties," etc.
  • Probe by asking students what sort of characteristics the people, both real and fictional, display in the Examples box. Cold call several pairs to share. Record their responses on the displayed model.
  • Finally, draw students' attention to the Non-Examples box in the lower right corner. Ask them to discuss with their partner:

* "What are non-examples of resilience?"

  • Encourage students to think about the definition and the characteristics listed on the handout and remind them that they are thinking about the opposite of this, or what people who are not resilient might do.
  • Listen for: "giving up," "refusing to try when things get difficult," "wallowing in misery," etc. Cold call one or two pairs and record their non-examples on the displayed model. Point out that someone for whom things are going well, who is optimistic that they will continue to do so, is not necessarily resilient. Resilience requires something difficult or bad from which one bounces back.
  • Explain that resilient is a key term used to describe Louie and his ability to survive experiences like the one in the preface.
  • Reread the quote from the homework: "When history carried him into war, this resilient optimism would define him" (7).
  • Cold call a student to provide a definition of optimism (completed for homework). Make sure an appropriate definition, such as "a tendency to expect a positive outcome," is provided.
  • Ask students to turn and talk:

* "Now that we have an understanding of the individual words resilient and optimism, what does the phrase "resilient optimism" tell us about Louie and what he may face during the war? Why might the author have used this particular phrase instead of just saying that Louie was strong?"

  • Ask for one or two volunteer pairs to share out whole group. Remind students that, in this case, this attribute of resilient optimism gives meaning to or forms Louie's character. This phrase points out the specific ways in which Louie was strong. It is more specific and poignant in its meaning and impact on our understanding of Louie as a character.
  • Graphic organizers and recording forms engage students more actively and provide scaffolding that is especially critical for learners with lower levels of language proficiency and/or learning.  

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

  • Direct the class's attention to the posted learning targets. Cold call students to read them aloud to the class.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Close Reading: Louie's Change of Heart (20 minutes)

  • Be sure students have their text, Unbroken as well as the Louie's Change of Heart: Text-Dependent Questions.
  • See the Close Reading Guide: Unbroken Pages 9-12 in the supporting materials.
  • 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 for students to read along silently in their heads as you read the text aloud.

B. Understanding Louie: Character Traits Anchor Chart (8 minutes)

  • Display the Understanding Louie: Character Traits anchor chart. Tell students that throughout their reading of this book, they will continue to identify character traits and details from Unbroken that illustrate those traits.
  • Write the word resilient in the traits column. Students have already identified a number of examples from the book while completing the Resilient: Frayer Model. Cold call students to provide evidence from the book of Louie's resilience.
  • Invite students to turn and talk with their partner to identify another example of a character trait Louie possesses and details from the book that illustrate that trait.
  • Cold call pairs to share their thinking.
  • Possible traits include "generous," "optimistic," and "possessing a strong sense of agency." Agency is not a word students will come up with but is a great term to teach them. (For example: "Louie believes he is able to do what he wants and then sets out to do it. He takes action. This demonstrates his agency.") Leave space on the chart between traits to add more details as students continue to read the book.

Closing & Assessments


A. Debrief Learning Targets and Preview Homework (5 minutes)

  • Reread the third learning target aloud to the class:

* "I can cite evidence that supports my analysis of Unbroken."

  • Ask students to reflect on their learning today and rate their mastery of the learning target using the Fist to Five protocol. 
  • Remind them that their homework is to read pages 13-18 in UnbrokenDistribute the Unbroken structured notes, pages 13-18.


HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs
  • Complete a first read of pages 13-18 in Unbroken and fill in the structured notes. Answer the focus question: "Hillenbrand refers to the change in Louie as 'rehabilitation' (13). How is Louie rehabilitated? Use the strongest evidence from the text to support your answer."
  • Consider providing supported structured notes for students who struggle.

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