Introducing a Thematic Concept: Becoming Visible Again after Captivity | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M3A:U2:L17

Introducing a Thematic Concept: Becoming Visible Again after Captivity

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can analyze figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. (L.8.5)
  • I can determine a theme or the central ideas of an informational text. (RI.8.2)

Supporting Targets

  • I can determine a thematic concept in Unbroken.
  • I can analyze nuances in word meanings as synonyms and phrases for key terms are studied.

Ongoing Assessment

  • End of Unit 2 Assessment, Part 1 (students may complete in class or finish for homework)


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Engaging the Writer: Turn in Informational Essay (2 minutes)

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (1 minute)

2. Work Time

A. Read-aloud: Louie Returns Home (11 minutes)

B. Introducing a Thematic Concept: Becoming Visible after Captivity (30 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Preview Homework (1 minute)

4. Homework

A. Read pages 334-338 and the summary of pages 339-344 in Unbroken. Complete the structured notes.

  • This lesson introduces a second thematic concept students will study in Units 2 and 3 of this module: becoming visible again after captivity. Visibility will be defined in two ways: dignity and reconnecting. In this lesson, students will come to understand both aspects. This understanding will link back to one of the module's guiding questions: "How does war affect individuals and societies?"
  • Students have spent some time away from the book as they prepared to write the informational essay. This lesson also serves as a reentry to the book as students review the last focus question and the teacher does a brief read-aloud.
  • In this lesson and in Lesson 18, students may bring up the phrase "PTSD," or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If necessary, define the term for students: "Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event." (
  • Post: Learning targets.


demeanor, nuances


  • Unbroken (book; one per student)
  • Becoming Visible Again anchor chart (one per student; one for display)
  • Becoming Visible Again anchor chart (for teacher reference)
  • Document camera
  • Sticky notes (one per student)
  • Visibility Synonyms/Related Phrases strips (one per student)
  • Tape
  • Unbroken structured notes, pages 334-344 (one per student)
  • Unbroken supported structured notes, pages 334-344 (optional; only for students who need more support)
  • Unbroken Structured Notes Teacher Guide, pages 334-344 (for teacher reference)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Writer:  Turn in Informational Essay (2 minutes)

  • Congratulate students on completing their first draft of their informational essay, and have them turn in this mid-unit assessment.
  • Reviewing Learning Targets (1 minute)
  • Read aloud the first learning target:

* "I can determine a thematic concept in Unbroken." 

  • Have students turn and talk to summarize the thematic concept they have been studying in Unit 2. Listen for them to say something about the invisibility through isolation or dehumanization of those who were imprisoned or interred during WWII.
  • Explain now that the war is over, they are going to study a different, but related, thematic concept. Share with students that this thematic concept will continue to help them understand the guiding question for this module: "How does war and conflict impact individuals and societies?"
  • Cold call a student to read aloud the second learning target:

* "I can analyze nuances in word meanings as synonyms and phrases for key terms are studied." 

  • Explain that they'll list synonyms and word phrases that help them better communicate the key ideas of the thematic concept. Remind students they did this when they studied synonyms for dehumanization and isolation during their learning of resisting invisibility.
  • Ask students:

* "Now that Louie is home, in what ways has he left invisibility behind him?"  

  • Listen for students to realize that Louie is no longer isolated from the outside world now that he is home with his family.
  • Probe deeper by having students look again at the photo on page 330, and ask:

* "Based on this photo, how has Louie left invisibility behind him?"  Listen for students to note again that he is with his family and appears healthy and happy.

  • Summarize that Louie has left invisibility behind him in some ways. He is visible to his family and is reconnecting with the outside world, his family, community, and friends.
  • Ask:

* "In ways is Louie still invisible?"

  • Listen for students to notice that Louie is still not his old self. He snaps when he hears the recording of the radio broadcast. He reacts with uncontrolled shaking and screaming, and he doesn't seem to make sense. At first his family thought Louie would be fine since he talked about the prison camp so calmly, but after his violent reaction, they stare at him horrified. They realize he is not fine. When Louie tries to sleep, his dreams are haunted by the Bird.
  • Summarize for students by explaining that deep inside, Louie is still facing the effects of the dehumanization and loss of dignity he experienced in the prison camp.
  • Explain to students that after captivity, Louie is becoming visible again in some ways, but they will learn that the journey back to visibility will not be easy for Louie.
  • Distribute the Becoming Visible Again anchor chart and display using a document camera. Explain that you will fill it in together to better understand this new thematic concept. Write "Dignity" and "Reconnecting" as headings in the top two boxes.
  • Remind students that one of the best ways to understand a word is by naming examples of it (as they did when they used the Frayer model to define resilient and propaganda). Write "Examples" in the right-hand box underneath each heading. 
  • Ask:

* "What are some examples of ways Louie is becoming visible again?"

  • Distribute one of the sticky notes to each student. Ask students to write down one example of a way Louie is becoming visible from the passage they just read on their sticky note, then stick it to the anchor chart in the correct column (under either Dignity or Reconnecting).
  • Then ask for a few volunteers to read the sticky notes aloud. After each example, poll the class, asking for a thumbs-up if students agree that this is an example of a way to become visible again. Then, ask for a thumbs-up if students agree that this example is listed in the correct column (under either Dignity or Reconnecting). If students seem divided or confused, ask a volunteer to explain why this is an example of a way to make someone visible, and/or explain where this example should go on the anchor chart.
  • Ask students:

*  "What do you notice about the examples listed on the chart?" 

  • Listen for students to notice that most of the examples are related to "reconnecting." Remind them that this journey will be complicated for Louie. He won't become visible again, in both senses of the word, all at once.
  • Emphasize that good writers like Laura Hillenbrand use synonyms to avoid repetition and help their readers understand complicated topics. Write "Synonyms and Related Phrases" in the left-hand box underneath each heading. Remind students that these are words and phrases that the students may use to talk or write about the concept of visibility.
  • Distribute Visibility Synonyms/Related Phrases strips to students. Ask them to choose which column each strip belongs in and attach it to the anchor chart with tape.
  • After students have attached their synonyms/related phrases to the anchor chart, use the same thumbs-up polling method to check for understanding and make sure everything is in the right spot. Have students explore the nuances or differences or shades of meaning among the synonyms and phrases they have collected.
  • Reiterate that these synonyms will be helpful for students' final performance task.
  • Some students may benefit from being given sentence starters for Think-Pair-Share.
  • Graphic organizers engage students more actively and provide the necessary scaffolding especially critical for learners with lower levels of language proficiency and/or learning. For students needing additional support, you may want to provide a partially filled-in graphic organizer.

Work Time

Work Time

A. Read-aloud: Louie Returns Home (11 minutes)

  • Invite students to join their Okinawa discussion partner and share their answer to the focus question from the last reading homework (Lesson 13):

* "Why do the men doubt that the war is over?" 

  • Cold call student pairs to respond and listen for students to notice that the men doubt that the war is over because they mistrust the Japanese guards in the POW camp. They have been beaten, lied to, and mistreated for months, so they fear the announcement of the war's end could be a trick: "Everyone had heard this rumor before, and each time, it had turned out to be false.... A few men celebrated the peace rumor, but Louie and many others were anticipating something very different. Someone had heard that Naoetsu was slated to be bombed that night" (304). The men live in fear for their lives, and they think that the announcement of the war's end is just a "rumor," possibly even covering up a plan to bomb and kill them.
  • Ask students to Think-Pair-Share:

* "Now that the war is over, how do you predict the thematic concept of invisibility will be affected?" 

  • Cold call students to share their thinking. Don't say too much at this point in the lesson, since students will be studying this later.
  • Draw students' attention to the photograph of Louie's homecoming on page 330 in their Unbroken books. Ask students: "Based on this photo, what is your impression of Louie's health and demeanor or attitude and appearance?" Students may say Louie appears well dressed, relieved, happy, a healthy weight, and he looks strong.
  • Have students turn to page 333 to read along silently in their heads as you read aloud from page 333 to the break on page 334. This should be a pure read-aloud with no interruptions.
  • When finished, invite students to turn to their partner and share the gist of what was read.
  • Introducing a Thematic Concept: Becoming Visible Again after Captivity (30 minutes)
  • Lead a discussion with students about this passage to introduce the new thematic concept of becoming visible again. Have students engage in a Think-Pair-Share after each question.

Closing & Assessments


A. Preview Homework (1 minute)

  • Distribute Unbroken structured notes, pages 334-344, as well as the Unbroken supported structured notes, pages 334-344 as needed, keeping a copy of Unbroken Structured Notes Teacher Guide, pages 334-344 (for teacher reference).
  • Preview the homework. Read the focus question aloud:

*  "On page 338, Hillenbrand writes, 'When the harsh push of memory ran through Louie, reaching for his flask became as easy as slapping a swatter on a fly.' What is happening to Louie? Why?"


  • Read pages 334-338 and the summary of pages 339-344 in Unbroken. Complete the structured notes.

Teaching Note: 

  • After collecting students' draft informational essays at the beginning of the lesson, assess the drafts for "Content and Analysis" and "Command of Evidence" on the NYS Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric. By Lesson 19, be prepared to return students' drafts with feedback and the scored rubric.
  • For assessment purposes on students' first draft, focus on just the top two rows of the rubric. But also give feedback on the "Coherence, Organization, and Style" and "Control of Conventions" for students to revise in Lesson 19. Specifically, keep an eye out for mistakes that relate to the following learning targets:

* "I can use correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling to send a clear message to my reader." (L.8.2) (This essay is meant to assess L.8.2c: Spell correctly. Give students feedback on their spelling.)"

* "I can intentionally use verbs in active and passive voice and in the conditional and subjunctive mood." (L.8.3) (Focus your feedback on active and passive voice; subjunctive and conditional moods will be assessed in Unit 3.)

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