ABOUT THIS UNIT
This is a Common Core-aligned literature study unit for use with Brian Selznick’s 2008 Caldecott-winning graphic novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and Hugo, the 2011 film adaptation of the novel, directed Martin Scorsese.
Works of historical fiction set in 1931, both the novel and film tell the story of Hugo, an orphan who secretly lives in a Paris train station—tending its clocks and dodging its menacing Station Inspector—as he struggles to repair a broken automaton, a precious possession of his father’s Hugo was able to salvage after the man’s sudden death. Hugo believes that if he can get the mechanical man working again it will leave him a message that will “save his life.” Hugo’s search for parts to fix the machine leads him on a journey back in time to a moment in history when “a new kind of magic”—film!—was invented, and to one of this new medium’s long-forgotten masters, a man who ultimately gives Hugo the sense of family he so desperately misses.
UNIT COMPONENTS AND FEATURES
NOTE: This unit does NOT include an answer key. Though some questions here are designed to assess comprehension, the overall objective is to promote discussion, critical inquiry and the development of argument-building skills. Most prompts here are open-ended so a variety of responses will be "correct," depending on how well-supported they are. If you are looking for a unit with multiple choice or fill-in-the-blanks questions you can quickly match against an answer key, this is probably not the right unit for you.
LITERATURE RESPONSE QUESTIONS
A set of 8-15 prompts for each chapter of the novel. The questions are grouped for differentiated instruction into Comprehending, Analyzing, and Connecting sections. Since this unit is editable, you can pick and choose the prompts that best fit your needs and/or break the class into groups and assign 1-2 prompts to each group. The comprehension questions are appropriate for younger students and English language learners. The questions that involve analysis ask students to think critically and to support their conclusions with textual evidence. The Connecting questions ask students to draw connections between the book and their own lives. Several of the questions can also be used as prompts for longer writing assignments. The novel raises some tough and complicated questions about whether the desperation shaped by homelessness, poverty, and threats of violence can sometimes mean that lying and stealing are the “right” things to do, and the literature response prompts ask students to grapple with and reflect on personal experience with questions like these. There are some questions geared toward new immigrants/English Language learners that ask students to decode idioms with which native English speakers will probably be familiar, and some of the prompts ask students to reflect on experiences in their native countries.
SEVERAL SHORT MENTOR TEXT EXERCISES THAT GUIDE AN EXPLORATION OF REVISION STRATEGIES
These are designed for use with a Writers’ Workshop program. Each exercise asks students to read as writers—to pay close attention to elements of craft—and apply the mentor author’s writing techniques to their own works in progress. Most exercises include links to student writing samples that model approaches to applying the mentor author techniques under consideration. Though the instructions in the Mentor Text exercises are addressed to students, most will need some teacher scaffolding around the terms and concepts mentioned so are probably not appropriate for use as independent activities.
3 IN-DEPTH MENTOR TEXT MINI-UNITS TO SPARK NEW WRITING PROJECTS
The first is devoted to science fiction writing, the second is a unit on writing historical fiction and the third is on writing family stories and histories. Each one is a detailed, week-long lesson plan that includes introductions to each day’s reading, discussion and/or writing session, excerpts of the mentor texts under consideration, questions to guide discussions, and prompts and graphic organizers to get students started writing pieces of their own. Along with excerpts from Hugo, these mini-units also include the work of several student authors that model the approaches under consideration.
2 STEAM (SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, ART & MATH) EXTENSION ACTIVITIES
One is a mini-unit where students learn to build and experiment with their own automata. The other is a guide to publishing student writing as graphic mini-novels or comic books. Both include links to resources and supply vendors.
SEVERAL FILM EXTENSION ACTIVITIES
Each includes links to several of the early 20th century films mentioned in the novel along with discussion questions and prompts.
One for every 2-3 chapters. Rather than ask for definitions, instructions here ask students to use each vocabulary word in their own sentences because I’ve found that this exercise tells me a lot more about how much students understand the words than asking them for definitions does. Since the document is editable, however, you can easily change the directions to create assignments that meet your own objectives.
3 VOCABULARY PRACTICE CROSSWORDS & SOLUTIONS
A VOCABULARY STUDY SHEET
A 2-page handout where all words are compiled with easy to understand definitions and parts of speech (not dictionary definitions that can often be confusing). The words here are for use with English Language Learners, so if you are working with native English speakers, you’ll probably want to delete many entries from this list because they will likely already be familiar to your students.
A SET OF THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET VOCABULARY FLASHCARDS
Set is archived on FlashcardMachine.com. From URL provided you can download a PDF copy of the flashcards, or let students use the “study session” feature on the website or the Flashcard Machine app for ipad or android devices. Directions for three flashcard games are included with the link.
RESPONSE PROMPTS FOR USE WITH HUGO, THE NOVEL’S FILM ADAPTATION
Film response questions explore themes unique to the film version of the story and ask for a comparative analysis of the two works.
This is a Google document, so you can easily modify or delete anything here to fit your own class’s needs. Any updates will automatically load each time you click the link provided with purchase. To save a copy of this unit to modify as you wish, go to File> Make a copy (Google account required) or File> download as an MS Word document (no Google account required). The questions and prompts are auto-numbered, so if you delete any, those remaining will automatically renumber correctly. If you make changes that alter the pagination, Contents links will remain accurate as long as you don’t change section headings. To update Contents links after you make changes, click anywhere on the Contents page and click the Update arrow when it appears. Quickly find what you’re looking for in the Contents or go to Tools> Document outline to see clickable section headings in a sidebar on the left of the screen. To edit instructions for all literature response assignments or all quizzes at once go to Edit> Find and replace. Paste existing directions into the “Find” box then add your own directions to the “Replace” box.