Herman Melville captures the dark side of the American reality of Industrialization. Perhaps the greatest author before the Modern age, his texts are brilliant but challenging for high school students.
This mini unit of Thinking Activities uses the simpler, but powerful story of "What Redburn Saw in Lancelott's Hey" to introduce the alienation from industrialization and the second revolution of capitalism. This prepares your students for the team based reading and listening the masterpiece "Bartleby the Scribner: A Story of Wall Street."
You cannot ask them to read this text on their own. Put students into groups and do the anticipation guide. Next, play Audio of first two paragraphs and have teams write down words they don't know. Rapid fire answer, but explain how this will be critical to understanding the lawyer/narrator. Begin to suggest that the lawyer's language is a defense mechanism that is hiding something.
Give students as teams a few minutes to answer the questions for a paragraph to a page, depending on class' ability. You have to work a little until you get to "prefer not to."
After he describes each "worker," students should be laugh as they begin to decode each worker's alienation.
There is no better text to explain this period and well worth the work.