Expository, Non-Fiction Lesson on Modern Issues: The Power of Negative Thinking

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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 informational text activity, students will read an article by British writer Oliver Burkeman (link included) 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.

In this article, Burkeman introduces us to the Museum of Failed Products, a repository for ridiculously ill-conceived consumer products, such as microwavable scrambled eggs in a carrying tube and Pepsi A.M. Breakfast Cola. He uses these failed products as a springboard into larger issues of pop psychology and raises interesting points that may inspire or incite your students. The text-based questions will engage your students and get them thinking about not only about our foolish desire to celebrate success and ignore the value in failure, but also the effectiveness of Burkeman’s rhetorical techniques.

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.

The package includes an option for 8th-9th graders and separate questions for 10th-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.

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 article 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 article. Your students will have plenty of reactions to Burkeman’s article that they’ll want to share.

These full-class, stand-alone materials also work great as emergency plans for substitute teachers. The material is easy 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 to enjoy deep savings on this item bundled with four other non-fiction "Let's Get Real" lessons on modern issues? Click HERE to save 25% on Let's Get Real Bundle #2. Please note: There's no need to buy this item separately if you've already purchased the money-saving Let's Get Real Bundle #2.

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Total Pages
5-page PDF
Answer Key
Included
Teaching Duration
45 Minutes

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Expository, Non-Fiction Lesson on Modern Issues: The Power
Expository, Non-Fiction Lesson on Modern Issues: The Power
Expository, Non-Fiction Lesson on Modern Issues: The Power
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