Sarah Harris and I worked together on a lesson for her English 12 classes modified from this Teaching Channel video, “Literary Analysis Through Interactive Stations.” The lesson provided a scaffolding for students to do the following assignment independently:
Write a one-page literary analysis where you explore what a symbol in Lord of the Flies represents within our society. Include text evidence to support your perspective.
For the lesson, we set up five stations in the classroom:
- Visual Symbolism– creating a visual interpretation of the symbol
- Dramatic Symbolism– creating a frozen tableau (or scene) that interprets the symbol
- Dinner Table Discussion– discussing the symbol as characters from the text
- Quote Connections– finding quotes about the symbol and making connections to them
- Graffiti Responses– answering questions and responding to other students’ comments about the symbol(s) and what they say about the society
Classes were split into groups, and each was given a symbol from Lord of the Flies (the conch, Piggy’s glasses, the Beastie, or fire). Student then had two minutes to come up with three possible meanings for the symbol, which they shared with group members. These initial responses served as the basis for the rest of the activities. Here are the directions and resources for each of the stations (directions are also available as a handout at the end of this post):
Visual Symbolism Directions
- Choose one possible meaning for your symbol
- Determine how you might visually represent this symbol without:
- Using a picture the symbol itself
- Drawing a scene from the novel
- Using words
- Create a visual representation of the symbol, focusing on shape, color and images
- Be prepared to share and explain your visual to the class
- Post your visual on the board and make sure your names are on the back
Dramatic Symbolism (Tableau) Directions
- Choose one possible meaning for your symbol
- Determine how you might represent what this symbol means through a frozen scene
- For your scene, determine how you will use:
- Facial expressions
- Body language
- Any props
To portray your scene to an audience of your peers
- Be prepared to share and explain your scene to the class
Dinner Table Discussion Directions
- Choose a person in your group to be a note taker for the discussion that is about to follow
- Each seat has a character name on the table. This is the character you will be for this discussion
- Begin by completing the quick write (see table for papers to use):
- Consider your symbol and what it means. What does your character think about the symbol in question? How do they feel about it? What would they like to say to the other characters at the table about this symbol?
- Have the leader in the group choose from the following questions to ask and lead discussion:
- How do you feel about _____________ (symbol)?
- What should we do about _____________ (symbol)?
- What questions do you have about _____________ (symbol)?
- What concerns do you have about _____________ (symbol)?
- Make sure to keep your notes from the discussion when you move to the next station
Here is the quick write for the discussion:
Quote Connections Directions
- Use the first couple of minutes to review your notes and your books. Each person needs to find at least one quote dealing with your symbol (they CANNOT all be the same) and write it on one of the pieces of paper provided
- After the quote write one comment after it that makes a connection:
- Societal Connection (Something in the world: news, song, etc.)
- Personal Connection to the quote (Something in your life)
- Text Connection (Something else you have read)
- Pass your paper to the person to your right.
- On the quote paper you have just received, make a personal, societal or text connection and comment/build on what someone else has written.
- Continue passing papers to the right until everyone has his or her original paper.
- Share out what is written on the papers
- Make sure to keep your quote connection papers when you move on to the next station
Here is the worksheet for this station:
Graffiti (Silent) Response Directions
- Begin by independently answering the questions on the large sheets of paper (try to have two people or less per sheet. After you have answered the question yourself, read what others have written and comment on those points.
- Consider your symbol. What is William Golding trying to say about our society through this symbol?
- Based upon Lord of the Flies, how does Golding feel about how human beings behave toward one another?
- What would you say to challenge the author on in his worldview? In other words, in what ways do you think you disagree with how Golding sees the world and society?
Here are the questions for the posters for this station:
Originally, we were going to rotate every five minutes, but after the first session, we changed each station to ten minutes. At the end of ten minutes, the dramatic and visual interpretation groups shared and explained. At the last minute, we also added a “Bonus” Haiku station for students who finished early.
The stations took about two class periods, but on the second day, we ended ten minutes early to reflect upon the activity and begin introducing the literary analysis. For the reflection, students were read the final assignment (see beginning of the post). Before we went over the specific criteria, students were asked to write down two connections between the stations and the literary analysis. (In other words, how would doing these activities help them.) We then discussed answers, and the following connections were made by students:
- They heard other perspectives and ideas about the symbols through all activities, especially the Dinner Table Discussion station
- The Quote station helped with finding textual evidence and connecting the symbol to their own experiences and lives
- The Drama and Visual stations helped develop possible meanings of the symbol and interpret the symbol in more meaningful ways
- The Graffiti station helped make connections between the symbol and society
Here are some additional resources to implement this lesson. They could easily be modified for almost any literary analysis assignment or text a teacher wanted to use:
- Literary Analysis Stations: Lesson Plan
- Literary Analysis Stations: Directions for Students (also in post)
- One-page Literary Analysis Rubric
- Signs for each Station
After reflecting upon the lesson afterward, we both felt as though the “bonus” station was a good idea because some activities took longer than others. In addition, students were creative about how they used the haiku format. Here are a few examples:
What could be out there?
The darkness reveals all of my fears.
Is anyone coming to help?
Fire raging high
Smoldering, the flames go out
Hope for rescue, lost