This is a complete novel unit for Between Shades of Gray by Rita Sepetys. This is a six-week unit, but the materials and activities included can be implemented in your classroom as you see fit. You can make the unit last longer, or speed it up if you prefer!
IMPORTANT & SENSITIVE TOPICS
Before you get started on the novel, I do think it’s important to have conversations with your students about the context of this story. I’ve made a list of important and/or sensitive topics you may want to discuss prior to reading the novel. I’ve divided this list into chapters according to where the topic comes up in the story.
The detailed chapter summaries are written as a quick-reference for teachers as they work through the novel with their students.
VOCABULARY WORD LIST
This novel is packed with fantastic vocabulary words. I’ve included a list of words divided by chapter with definitions and page numbers for reference.
The novel itself is divided into 3 parts. For each of the 3 parts of the novel, you’ll find vocabulary bookmarks for the kids to use while they’re reading. Students love having the definitions of challenging words right there in front of them. Looking words up while reading is time consuming, and it takes away from their focus on the plot of the story. These bookmarks can be printed and given to students before they start each of the 3 parts of novel.
LITERARY THEME ACTIVITY - EVIDENCE OF HOPE
This is an optional activity that should be completed WHILE students are reading. For this activity, students act as detectives as they search for events in the story that support the theme of “hope.” On a chart, students will cite these events with page numbers. Each week students will get together to discuss what events they’ve added to their charts. I’ve included a list of sample answers with page numbers for teacher reference.
For each of the 6 sections I’ve divided the novel into, you will find a quiz that assesses your students’ understanding of basic plot elements in chapters read that week. It is the perfect way to determine whether or not a student completed the assigned reading. (Critical thinking and analysis questions are kept for discussion questions.) An answer key with page numbers is included.
For each of the 6 sections, you will find discussion questions that are designed to get students to think critically about what they’ve just read. I suggest completing discussion questions AFTER students take the reading quiz for each section to get an accurate assessment of their comprehension of the assigned pages. These discussion questions can be discussed as a whole-group, or they can be copied and cut apart for small-group discussions. Blank cards have been included in case you would like to add your own questions. Each section has 12 discussion questions. There are also before-novel discussion questions included.