This unit is a thematic literary unit based on the novel, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, 2007. This unit was originally designed for a summer credit recovery program. As such, the lessons are planned for an extended period. The unit duration is between four and five weeks. As always, I try to provide a menu of activities, especially for at-risk students, and attempt to simultaneously embed as many standards as possible.
This unit is intended for secondary students participating in some sort of intervention, course recovery, and/or an alternative educational setting. For example, this unit is currently being used at our continuation high school to supplement adopted curriculum. The content contains high interest/low readability materials, focuses mainly on reading comprehension skills, and is light on expository writing strategies. Writing activities to use in conjunction with the reading are contained in the appendix.
This unit was created before the adoption of the current CCSS standards, and therefore may not be 100% compliant. However, this unit was originally designed for an alternative educational situation, so some of those details don’t necessarily apply.
*The key is purposely incomplete. All questions are directly out of the text or are the product of class discussion. I feel that this particular work requires preview prior to teaching…please see below.
Unit Warnings and Disclaimers
First of all, this unit relies heavily on literature selections that may not be included in your state adopted textbook. For copyright reasons, these selections are NOT included within the unit packet. Some of the selections are, however, available online. Supplementary texts include Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss, 2004, and the story of Jacob from the NIV version of the Holy Bible.
Secondly, this unit also relies heavily on technology that you or your classroom may not have access to. There are several clips that are from www.youtube.com, and another that is found on www.californiastreaming.org. For convenience, I have compiled all of the necessary links onto my classroom website by unit for easy viewing (as I dislike trying to tab through multiple bookmarks or pages while my class waits for me!). As a purchaser of this unit, you are welcome to access this site at https://sites.google.com/a/student.orlandusd.net/davis-english/home.
Finally, some of the selections contain content that warrant a “mature audiences” rating. Specifically, some of the pictures present in the print version of the primary text can be offensive and disturbing as well as some content. Also, some districts have stricter policies than others about reading excerpts from religious texts, even for literary purposes, so please be aware of your district’s policy before using that particular activity. This particular selection was chosen to teach allegory in the novel.
Now that you’re ready to return the unit for a full refund, let me just say that I have taught this particular unit to at-risk 10th – 12th graders in a particularly conservative, rural, PUBLIC school. With proper attention given to context and language purpose, the unit was well received by administration, parents and students.
Water for Elephants Literary Thematic Unit
by Teresa N. Davis
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
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