Unit Outline for The Catcher in the Rye (Designed for 50 minute class periods)

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1 Unit Outline for The Catcher in the Rye (Designed for 50 minute class periods) Week One Day One -Introduce students to the central question that will be guiding their unit study: What does it mean to leave childhood behind? This question will open up many windows of opportunity for discussion. The answer is not just a cut and dry to enter adulthood. Rather, students study of the novel will help them answer this question in a more philosophical manner, and to take into account all of the aspects that go along with entering adulthood and leaving childhood. -Have students write a journal response to the central question. Then discuss their answers as a class. -Have students complete the Cloze Passage exercise, and correct it as a class. -Hand out books and go over censorship issues for the novel. Tell the students that you have confidence in their maturity to handle the language and situations presented in the novel. Explain that you do not condone these things, but rather choose to see past them and instead focus on the thematic message of the novel. -Have students read chapter one. While reading, they should focus on the narration of the text. The text is told in first person narration by a seventeen-year-old boy. While reading, they should keep a list of slang words (along with the context of the word and page numbers) that Holden uses to describe the action of the story. Day Two -Have a class discussion and allow students to share the slang words they found in the text from the previous day/night s reading. Using the contextual clues, come up with definitions for these words as a class. Words may include: lousy, touchy, crumby, dough, it killed me, stiff, madman, moron, strictly for the birds, kick out of it, corny, phony, got the ax, get a bang, shoot the bull, etc. Words that aren t in chapter one can also be shared by me. Why does Holden choose to use these words? -Talk briefly about the history of slang in this country. Discuss the idea that American youth have historically used slang terminology to separate themselves

2 from adults, show non-conformity, etc. (There are several websites that contain helpful information that addresses this.) -Divide the students into groups of 3-4. As a group, have them brainstorm 5-10 slang words that are part of their daily vocabulary. Have them also come up with definitions for these words. -As a class, share the words and definitions the groups came up with. How are these words similar to the ones Holden chooses? This will help connect students with Holden s world and allow them to see that even though they re generations apart, they might not be so different. -Have students read chapters 2-4. While reading, they should be searching for the most significant/important quote, line, or phrase from the section. They must be able to defend their choices. Day Three -As a class, talk about the quotes the students selected. What were the similarities in their choices? Why did they choose them? Likely to come up are life according to the rules, the duck imagery, and the concept of phoniness. As a class, vote on the most significant quote. -Explain that old man Spencer gives Holden some advice- that life is a game that one plays according to the rules. Find out what students think about this concept. -Divide students into groups, and have each group analyze a quote from Thoreau s Civil Disobedience or Walden and translate it into modern-english. Have each group share their quote and present their findings to the class. -Explain that one of the main questions The Catcher in the Rye is asking is what does it mean to be unique? and going along with the central question how do we keep individuality in the adult world? -Personal Biopoem assignment. Students will describe their own unique natures, and perhaps things they won t compromise about themselves, in their own biopoem. There biopoem will be homework, and will need to be bulletin board ready when they come to class next. Day Four -Have students share their biopoems, either in pairs or to the entire class. Again, discuss what it means to be unique.

3 -Guided imagery exercise: picture your favorite person in order to prepare students to meet Allie s character. Have them write a journal response about the person they imagined. -Reach chapter five aloud, or have students take turns reading. -Discuss Allie s character. How is he similar to their favorite person? How has his death affected Holden? He would have been 13 when Allie died, etc. -Have students read chapters 6 and 7 with left over class time, finishing up as homework. Day Five -Do a web-quest at the beginning of the class in the computer lab. Plan an electronic scavenger hunt for students that leads them from website to website collecting information on Salinger, the censorship issues of Catcher in the Rye, etc. -Come back as a class and discuss their findings. How does what they found tie into their reading of the novel? What questions do they have about Salinger s reclusive nature, etc? -Do a brief discussion on Jane Gallagher s character. Why is Holden so protective of her? Etc. -As preparation for the next chapter s reading, have students write a personal response journal for the topic: If you were Holden, and you had just been kicked out of school, where would you go? -Have students read chapters Week Two Day Six -Have students write a brief journal response for the topic When is it ok to lie? When was a time that you lied? Why did you choose to lie? Discuss their answers as a class. -Discuss as a class Holden s reasoning behind lying to Mrs. Morrow. Have student s rewrite the situation, but this time have Holden tell the absolute truth. -Have students pair share their work, or share their ideas as a class.

4 -Have students read chapter 11 as homework. Day Seven -Have students free-write about Jane s character and her importance to Holden. Discuss their responses as a class. -Do Think Aloud for chapter 12, stopping at necessary points to point out important happenings. Finish reading chapter 12 in popcorn reading/volunteer style. At the conclusion of the chapter, Holden says people are always ruining things for you. Discuss whether or not students think this is true. Can they think of a time someone has ruined something for them? -Have students read chapters PREPARE students for the prostitute situation that is coming up. Explain that it is one of the most controversial situations in the novel. Have students analyze WHY this situation occurs. Give students some thinking questions to use to guide their reading of this section. Day Eight - Do the Vocabulary VSS Strategy. Have students come up with their own vocabulary words, share them, and create vocabulary notebooks for the unit. -Have students do a journal response before reading Describe a place that has always stayed the same, but has changed because you ve grown older. -As homework, or with leftover time, have students read Chapters 15 and 16. Day Nine -Divide students into pairs. They will construct a faces and places timeline for the novel up until this point. Holden goes so many places, and meets so many people, they are sometimes hard to keep track of. -As a class, go through the timeline together, filling in portions other students might have missed. -Have students do the story impression exercise to prepare them for chapter 17. -Have students read chapter 17 with leftover class time, or as homework.

5 Day Ten -Have students discuss how their story impressions were different from the actual text. -Discuss Holden s desire to retreat into the woods. Bring to light the similarities this shows with the Walden quotes that were discussed earlier in the unit I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately etc. Also, discuss Holden s descriptions of his private school life. -Show Dead Poet Society clips that may relate to some of the pressure/conformity issues Holden brings to light. -Have students read chapter 18. Week Three Day Eleven -Have students write a journal response to the passage from chapter 18 that they should have read for today: The part that got to me was, there was a lady sitting next to me that cried all through the goddam picture. The phonier it got, the more she cried. You d have thought she did it because she was kindhearted as hell, but I was sitting right next to her, and she wasn t. She had this little kid with her that was bored as hell and had to go to the bathroom, but she wouldn t take him. She kept telling him to sit still and behave himself. She was about as kindhearted as a goddam wolf. You take somebody that cries their goddam eyes out over phony stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they re mean bastards at heart. I m not kidding. Can they think of any hypocritical situations like this that they have encountered in their own lives? How does this fit into Holden s idea of phoniness? Etc? -Briefly discuss the students responses, and make sure students are grasping the main themes of the novel. -Introduce more Catcher vocabulary by doing the list-group-label activity. -With leftover time or for homework, have students read chapter 19. Day Twelve -Discuss Holden s psychological/emotional state. What clues from the text (particularly chapter 19) lead them to such answers?

6 -Do KWHL activity on teen depression. Have students complete the research portion in the computer lab, or in the library. -Discuss their findings. Use the information found on teen depression to diagnose Holden. Are his problems bigger than the average teen s? -As homework, have students complete the magic square activity as a vocabulary refresher. Day Thirteen -Have students do a pre-reading journal entry choosing to either respond to What advice would you give Holden if you could talk with him right now? or What profession can you see Holden choosing in the future? -In class read Salinger s short story A Perfect Day for Banana Fish. Have students compare the characters in the short story with those in Catcher. -Have students read chapters while completing the selective reading guide. Tell students to also pay particular attention to Phoebe and her advice to Holden. Day Fourteen -Have students make a list of the advice that Phoebe gave Holden in the chapters they have just read. Make a list of this advice on the board. How does it compare with the advice students might have suggested in their pre-reading journals? -Analyze Phoebe s character by doing the Venn-Diagram graphic organizer for vocabulary. Students will list words that describe Phoebe and Holden s unique characteristics, and their similarities. -Play a song dealing with non-conformity. Give students a copy of the lyrics to annotate while the song is playing. Discuss the meaning and how it relates to the novel. -Discuss Holden s career choice and how it fits into these issues. -Have students write their own song or poem describing Holden s position, or their own regarding conformity, phoniness, etc. This will be homework if time does not allow.

7 Day Fifteen -Have students share their songs/poems on issues of conformity, phoniness, etc. if they want. -Have student s complete the personal column of the anticipation guide before reading the conclusion of the novel. Discuss their opinions as a class, or in partnerships. -Have students read chapter Have students complete the Holden column of the anticipation guide. Week Four Day Sixteen -Have students complete the QAR worksheet. The various passages relate to some of the thematic elements we have been discussing and will help introduce a final discussion of the novel. -Discuss the QAR answers, and the anticipation guide opinions. How do students feel about the novel? -Read some selections from Letters to J.D. Salinger. Talk about the idea of an unsent letter. As an assignment have students write a letter to Holden, or to J.D. Salinger. They can do so as themselves or as a character from the novel. Day Seventeen -Introduce final project options for The Catcher in the Rye (see concept/vocabulary analysis). -Play vocabulary bingo to prepare for the vocabulary exam. -Give time to project plan. Day Eighteen -Discussion Web activity- Is Holden a reliable narrator? Discuss answers as a class, and vote on overall opinion. -Vocabulary Test -Project work and presentations pending.

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