The new Common Core has a much-greater focus on non-fiction, informational texts in the English/Language Arts classroom. It’s time to start adding more real-world articles and materials to our literary canon. In this easy-to-deliver narrative non-fiction activity, students will read two brief excerpts from a longer non-fiction piece by acclaimed horror writer Stephen King (don’t worry, there’s nothing scary here – the article is just two passages about his childhood and writing) and complete a series of deep-thinking questions. Afterward, students will definitely have personal anecdotes and opinions to share about this “Let’s Get Real” classroom activity.
When your principal asks what you’ve done to align your classroom with the Common Core, just point to this non-fiction, expository-based work as an example. This 45-minute lesson will give students a high-quality article to analyze as they make connections between the work and their own lives.
The article uses two colorful tales from King’s youth as he emphasizes the importance of voice and economy of language. The personable tone of the writing (and unexpected use of humor) will surprise and delight your students. One word of warning, there is a short (and rather hilarious) passage about the misery that follows accidental use of poison ivy leaves as toilet paper. There’s no inappropriate language and this is a very small part of the article, but if you’re squeamish, then this may not be the best material for you to use in your class. In my world, this brief part of the article is funny and a great example of sensory details. Still, I just thought you should know.)
Begin with a reading of the article (either aloud or solo), have individuals write their answers to the multi-layered depth-of-knowledge questions (either in teams of two or solo), and then launch a class discussion. You don’t have to use any of King’s books in class in order to have a lively discussion about the ideas he puts forward here.
The package includes an option for 9th and 10th graders and separate questions for 11th and 12th graders. The article is the same for both groups, but the reflection questions are different, so that various levels of students will find the activity stimulating and challenging.
The first three pages of the PDF file are the article excerpts with visually compelling illustrations. The next two pages are “Level 1” questions for 9th and 10th graders and “Level 2” questions for 11th and 12th graders. Both sets of questions come with detailed answer keys, of course. You might also want to use the two separate question sheets for differentiated questions within one class.
It usually takes my students 45 minutes to work through the material and give thorough answers to the questions. If you need to extend the lesson, you also could launch a discussion of the issues raised in the piece. Your students will have plenty of real-life examples from their own worlds to illustrate King’s points.
These full-class, stand-alone materials also work great as emergency plans for substitute teachers. Easy material to deliver and the kids will need to work hard for the whole period to finish on time.
Click the “Preview” button at the top of the page to take a closer look.
Want a similar assignment with a different topic?
Click HERE for a non-fiction lesson on Blended Families
Click HERE for a non-fiction lesson on the Unexpected Benefits of Pop Culture
Click HERE for a non-fiction lesson plan on the Benefits of Stereotyping
Click HERE for a non-fiction lesson plan about Personal Greed and Unwilling Sacrifice
Want to buy all five and enjoy a deep 25% discount?
Click HERE for a Budget-Priced Bundle of all FIVE Non-Fiction Lessons
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