This Thanksgiving mini-reading unit and activities for Middle School and High School students is perfect to use in the week or two leading up to Thanksgiving break.
Students will warm-up with a critical observation of Norman Rockwell’s iconic Thanksgiving Day painting, Freedom From Want. Following a discussion of students’ initial perceptions of the painting, they will read background information about the painting itself and what inspired its creation (President Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union address, known as Four Freedoms). The provided critical thinking questions help generate further analysis. Then students will participate in a close reading of O.Henry’s short story, “Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen,” focusing on the theme. Finally, they will write their own conclusion to the story, different from O. Henry’s signature twist ending!
INCLUDED IN THIS UNIT:
- Instructions for Use:
Detailed instructions for the teacher, as we walk you step-by-step through this mini-unit.
- Freedom From Want Analysis Handout:
This handout helps get students thinking and making connections. We like to use this activity as a think-pair-share as well.
- Background Info & Critical Thinking Questions:
Students are asked to read President Roosevelt's State of the Union address, known as Four Freedoms, that inspired Norman Rockwell's painting, Freedom From Want. Students then answer corresponding questions to help create connections between the two pieces.
- "Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen" Short Story:
We've included two versions of the short story for you - the original as well as an abridged version - so you can differentiate based on your students' level. We also included Teacher Annotated versions of BOTH the original and abridged stories.
- 8 Task Cards:
Use these task cards in small groups, Socratic Seminar, individual questions, etc. These are challenging, critical-thinking questions.
- Focusing on Theme Handout:
Students complete a challenging theme activity that asks them to provide evidence from the text to support their claims, as well as justification of their position.
- Conclusion Writing Activity:
To extend this unit, students will learn about the various endings authors use to create an impactful conclusion. Students will then write their own twist-ending conclusion (much like O. Henry).
- EDITABLE Rubric:
An editable rubric is included for your convenience! Please note you will need PPT in order to edit this file.
OTHER HOLIDAY RESOURCES YOU MIGHT LIKE:
12 Days of Christmas Reading Activities for Middle School & High School