Lighthouse Initiative for Texas Classrooms

Grade 12 Sample Lesson

The Movement of Ideas

Analyzing texts and learning how to prepare for and deliver a Socratic seminar

Contributed by Jim Lindsay, Episcopal School of Dallas, Dallas, TX

(Click here for downloadable MS Word version.)

Time needed:

Four 50-minute class periods

Materials/Resources Needed:

Class Period 1—Movement of Ideas

  • Preparation and Instruction
    • Organize the classroom so that students work in groups of four.
    • Present the Movement of Ideas worksheet.
    • Using either an overhead transparency, a board model, or a computer-based visual, present the Movement of Ideas worksheet as visual so all students may follow the example.
    • Inform students that they will be learning a deconstruction skill that will serve them in preparing for Inner-Outer Circle discussions. This strategy will also serve as a prewriting sheet for future timed writings.
    • Provide students with a copy of Daudet’s "The Last Lesson" and Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.
    • Instruct students that they will have 15 minutes to read the two pieces silently. At the teacher’s discretion, this portion of the lesson can be assigned as homework for the night prior.
    • From the groups of four, students break into pairs. The first pair will utilize "The Last Lesson." The second group will utilize the Second Inaugural Address.
    • Present the students with the Movement of Ideas worksheet. Tell them to come up with—in 10 minutes—four dominant strategies that their author uses to power forward his purpose. They will copy the concrete detail and paragraph number in the first column, name the dominant device in the second column, and indicate how the particular literary device(s) illustrates a major point of the author’s theme or argument in the third column.
    • Optional: Model for the students, one example of the exercise for each. Use this example, if necessary:


What is it?

How does it make meaning?

What is the author’s purpose?

“The Last Lesson”

“I thought of spending the day out of doors. It was so warm, so bright! The birds were chirping.” (1) and “Once some beetles flew in; but nobody paid attention to them.” (17)

Juxtaposition, pastoral imagery

The speaker’s initial pastoral imagery reveals what one would expect from a schoolboy – the value placed on the outdoors, on play, on nature. However, Daudet juxtaposes the impact of the pastoral when another component of Franz’s life is threatened. Because Franz’s view of nature in paragraph 17 is limited, the author argues how something so important to a young person – to any person – becomes overshadowed by another that is more fleeting. This contrast yields his sardonic tone when Franz questions if “even the pigeons” (17) will change due to such a military insurgence, which illuminates how war affects more than soldiers and policy; it alters our understanding of our own core values.

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

“but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish.” (2)

Juxtaposition, non-descript pronouns, italics

Lincoln elucidates a notion of the past. Through his juxtaposition of the creation of war and the consent of war, and the use of vague pronouns, which surround both clauses, he displays the political division that existed between north and south, but does so without directly blaming either the union or confederate forces. For emphasis, Lincoln underscores the words “make” and “accept” to power forward the responsibility both parties played in the war. Through this contrast, ironically, Lincoln illuminates the unity he seeks to gain in his following four-year tenure as president of the United States .

    • Give the students a second blank copy of the Movement of Ideas worksheet. Have the first pair of students teach the second pair of students their findings and write the information on the new worksheet.
    • Discuss, as a class, the observations and complete charts.
    • Homework: Have students prepare for an Inner-Outer Circle discussion of the two pieces by reading the Inner-Outer Circle handout.
    • Optional: Provide students with a copy of the graph, Armed Conflicts, 1999-2004. Challenge them to study the chart and make connections across all three texts during their discussion.

Class Period 2—Inner-Outer Circle

  • Preparation and Instruction
    • Review Inner-Outer Circle strategy. Organize the classroom so that an even distribution of desks creates the inner circle and half of the class population can fill it. The other half sits on the outer circle.
    • Modify the style of the discussion strategy as you see fit. If your class is smaller than 16 students, you may want to have one circle instead of two. If you teach on a block, you can extend the time to 35 minutes per circle, and then do your reflection comments at the end of the period. If you have a large class of seniors, you may want to spend two days on the activity. Whatever your situation, you can use the Inner-Outer Circle with great success, and it is suggested you do it throughout the year. The students will learn, grow, and impress you often.

Class Period 3—Pre-Writing

  • Preparation and Instruction
    • This lesson follows a traditional, teacher-led plan. You will need no other special handouts or materials except for the story and the speech.
    • Review Model Pre-Writing Strategy.
    • For 10-15 minutes, lead a discussion that offers your feedback on yesterday’s discussion. Praise good speakers, and use their comments to teach other students how to make well-supported connections to the text and arguments of the pieces. Encourage less than stellar speakers to use what they did accomplish to go deeper into the texts next time. It is not advisable to use Inner-Outer Circle as a fleeting strategy. Rather, use it frequently, and you will surely delight in how the students grow with the skill across the school year. They will also show growth in their writing due to this high-level of thinking and listening.
    • The next activity will utilize the remainder of the period but will prove an essential prewriting strategy for AP* English timed writings and for other essay questions as well. See Model Pre-Writing Strategy. Ask students to imagine a timed writing open-ended question that asked them to evaluate one piece and develop a well-written essay that discusses how the author’s modes of evocative literary language illustrate the speaker’s tone and purpose. It is suggested that you choose one work for this activity and use the other for your actual timed writing. To fulfill this need, and since the students have more experience with it, we will use the Lincoln piece.
    • Draw three large circles on the board:
Image of Three Large Circles
    • Instruct students that you will teach them a useful prewriting strategy, one they can use on tomorrow’s, and subsequent, timed writings. Their goal is to learn it and use it enough so they can eventually prewrite for an essay in three minutes.
    • First, have students decide—collectively—which literary terms seem most dominant in the Lincoln address. Once they have chosen, ask them, "For what ultimate purpose does Lincoln utilize these strategies?" Jot down those strategies and a rough idea of the purpose in the top circle.
    • For the left-hand circle, you will write the name of the first strategy and underline it.
    • Then, ask the students to offer three of the strongest examples of this strategy. Write crude transliterations of the quotations in the circle. Have students take a few minutes for open discussion to reveal why these examples are the strongest to discuss. Write crude notes next to each quotation in the left-hand circle.
    • Follow the same procedure for the right-hand circle and illustrate the second literary technique.
    • Optional: Draw another line stemming from each of the bottom circles. Add an extra literary technique in each. This one will serve as an ancillary point and detail for the students to use, should they find themselves with extra time during the writing period. This detail and illustration should serve the same purpose as the primary device in the main bubble.
    • Label the top circle "Thesis Idea." Label the pair of circles "Body 1" and "Body 2." They now have the beginnings of a four-paragraph essay.
    • Draw a line underneath the map, and label it "Thesis Statement."
    • Have students create the statement as a group as you write it on the board. This part will complete the prewriting instruction.
    • Homework: prepare to take a timed writing on one of the two works tomorrow.

Class Period 4—Timed Writing

  • Preparation and Instruction
    • Prepare copies of Alphonse Daudet’s "The Last Lesson."
    • Prepare a class set of the Timed Writing Question Sheet. To mirror the AP Examination in Literature and Composition, suggested time for reading and completion is 40 minutes.
    • Give students timed writing question, encouraging them to use the new prewriting strategy. They ought to write their essays in ink (again, to mirror the exam instructions), and do any prewriting on the question sheet.