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Topic - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Linda Pont, Kewanee, Illinois
Time - 14 days (test at the end for B and C layer only)
Key Topic - Characterization - Huck and Jim, Slavery/Racism, Stereotypes, Meaning of River travel, Humor/Satire, Controversy
Grading Scale - 350 - 315 = A, 314 - 280 =B, 279 - 245 = C, 244 - 210 =D
*everyone must do
C-Layer - must earn 250 points to move to next layer maximum points earned at this layer is 279
_____1. *read novel/take quizzes 1 2 3 4 (10 pts. each)
_____2. answer question sheets 1 2 3 4 (15 pts.each)
_____3.* vocab sheet (20 pts. each)
_____4. Map I.D. (10 pts.)
_____5. Character I.D. (15 pts.)
_____6. Twain biographical video (20 pts.)
_____7. watch Born to Trouble video 1 2 3 4 5 (10 pts. each)
_____8. images of racism poster (20 pts.)
_____9. abolition poster (20 pts.)
_____10. listen to lectures 1 2 3 4 5 (10 pts. each)
_____11. group definition - racism (15 pts.)
_____12. group definition -stereotype (15 pts.)
_____13. character poem (15 pts.)
_____14. response journal for Jim (10 pts.)
_____15. TV view of satire - The Simpsons (20 pts.)
_____16. poster of satire (15 pts.)
_____17 design a brochure (20 pts.)
_____18. satire summary (15 pts.)
_____19. World's Apart (15 pt.s)
_____20. attribute web - Huck/Jim (10 pts.)
_____21. guilt chart (15 pts.)
_____22. story map (15 pts.)
B-Layer - must earn 50 points to move on to next layer maximum, points earned at this layer is 314
_____1. learn the Virginia Reel and its history (25 pts.)
_____2. find authentic recipes (25 pts.)
_____3. create a comic strip (15 pts.)
_____4. anti-Huck poster (20 pts.)
_____5. We Wear the Mask poster (20 pts.)
_____6. Jim/Huck press conference (25 pts.)
_____7. group work Ch. 6 (25 pts.)
_____8. compare/contrast of slave life (20 pts.)
_____9. Huck diary entry (20 pts.)
_____10. effects of slavery today - group collection (25 pts.)
_____11. important events map (25 pts.)
_____12. The River analysis (25 pts.)
A-Layer do one only
_____1. compare/contrast play vs. book (50 pts.)
_____2. Kathy Montero - agree or disagree (50 pts.)
_____3. Huck Finn racist (50 pts.)
_____4. Jim is central character? (50 pts.)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Read novel/Take quizzes - Finish this assignment as soon as possible since all other assignments are based around having a basic understanding of the story. You will have 4 quizzes to take covering each section: Ch. 1-11, Ch. 12 -22, Ch 23-32, Ch. 33-43.
Questions Sheets - As you finish reading each section, you may want to answer the questions on these sheets to check your understanding. You may do none, one, two, three, or all four of them.
Vocab sheet - It won't take you very long into your reading to realize that some of the words used in this book are unfamiliar to you. Doing a vocabulary worksheet may help you. Taking the list of 35 words given, look up the definitions and then use them correctly on the worksheet.
Character I.D. - This sheet includes memorable and main characters of this novel. By reading the novel you will be able to match the character with the correct description as you read the novel.
Twain biographical video - A&E Biography creates very interesting and enjoyable biographies about famous people. The biography of Mark Twain is no exception. I will be showing this video early in the unit and if you are interested in watching it to learn more about the author, you won't be sorry. Watching this video may help in some of the other projects you do. You can also answer the question sheet as you watch and hand in your answers when the video is finished.
Born to Trouble video - This PBS film tells the story of the novel and how it has been censored and challenged throughout history. There are five sections to this film that I will show throughout the unit. Some segments may help in some of your chosen projects. There is nothing that needs to be handed in after viewing each section. Just use this film as a resource. If you choose to watch any segment I will sign off on your sheet that you have watched this section so you can get the points. Following is a brief summary to help you in deciding whether you need to watch each segments:
Segment One - The novel is introduced as well as a description of Twain's life in Hannibal, Missouri. Then the segment moves to Tempe, Arizona and an impending lawsuit brought about by a concerned parent, Kathy Monteiro. (17 min.)
Segment Two - This segment shows the controversy that arose when the novel was first published. (14 min.)
Segment Three - Monteiro meets with other parents in this segment to discuss the handling of racially sensitve material in school. Also the idea of Jim as a stereotype or complex character is discussed.
Segment Four - This segment discusses the moral dilemma Huck faces. A literary expert meets with the parents in Tempe in this section to answer their concerns. (12 min.)
Segment Five - This segment provides a review of the last quarter of the novel along with a comment from different ethnicities feel about the novel. (20 min.)
Images of racism - gather of images of racism and find several quotations from the novel that touch upon slavery and/or racism. Then assemble a collection of images to illustrate each quotation. Sources about the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement, slavery, and the history of African Americans are possibilities. Three to five images should be included with 7-10 quotations from the book. Use either a small or large piece of poster board and neatly display your work. Be ready to explain your choices of images and quotes and what each signifies.
Abolition Poster - Design an abolition poster. During the American Civil War, abolitionists favored the compulsory end of slavery in the United States. Create a poster designed to indicate some research into the kinds of information which might appear on a poster of this kind. The information should be accurate and clearly and neatly displayed. Suggestions: William Lloyd Garrison, Lydia Maria Child, Harriet Tubman, Horace Mann, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Russell Lowell, the Free-Soil Party, the Liberty Party.
Listen to lectures - There will be 15-20 minute lectures presented by me on various days on the key topics covered in this unit: characterization, slavery/racism, stereotypes, river travel, satire, controversy. To get the points for each of these lectures you must take notes and show them to me.
Group Definition (Racism) - Racism is obviously a complex and difficult subject. With the help of your group, you will create a definition and display it on a large sheet of paper along with other ideas from the group. To come up with these ideas, discuss some of the uncomfortable feelings concerning racism. Keep track of important thoughts and ideas mentioned during the discussion and when everyone has shared their ideas, put your thoughts on the paper. You want to be able to discuss not only what racism is , but also what you think are the predominant issues of racism today.
Your group should consider the following questions:
*What is racism? Is it a belief? Is it an action?
*What causes racism? What beliefs do people invoke to try to justify racism? In what kinds of situations do we see or find racism?
*When did you first recognize your own racial, ethnic, religious (or other) identity? What does it mean to you to identify yourself in this way?
*What do you like the most and the least about being a member of this identity?
*How has racism affected you or people you know?
*Do you think most minorities have a positive or negative image of whites? Do you think most whites have a positive or negative image other races?
*What's the biggest misconception blacks have about whites? Whites about blacks?
Group Definition (Stereotype) -
One of the major criticisms of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been that the character Jim is only a racist stereotype and that students will come away from the book with an image of him - and African Americans in general - as silly, superstitious, obedient, and passive. With the help of your group, you will create a group definition and display it on a large sheet of paper. You will also include other thoughts and ideas from each group member that address the areas of concern. Consider the following:
*What are stereotypes? Why and how are they formed? Have your group form a working definition of the word "stereotype".
*How were stereotypes used to justify slavery? To reassure slave owners?
*Why might slaves themselves have reinforced stereotypes?
*How have slave stereotypes influenced portrayals of African-Americans today?
Character Poem - After choosing either Huck or Jim, go back through the book and copy down
lines, phrases, or words that describe that character or tell something important about him , or
something he did, said, or thought. Then, arrange the words and phrases on a sheet of paper so
that they tell something important about the character, forming a "character poem."
Response Journal for Jim - As you read the novel, keep track of your feelings about Jim. At least four times during your reading, jot down any thoughts or feelings you have about Jim and his character. What are your impressions of him? Are your feelings about Jim changing? Why or why not? At the end of the novel write your concluding thoughts about Jim and be prepared to share your thoughts on this character. (This final portion could be put into essay form as an analysis paper.)
TV View of Satire - Twain uses satire to ridicule the more despicable forms of society of his day. Satire is used in today's world as well. Watch the tape of The Simpsons and answer the following questions: What is the writer's point of view about the society portrayed? How can you tell? How is he/she using satire? Now answer these same questions about Huck Finn.
Poster of Satire - Take twenty minutes or so and list as many examples of irony or satire in the novel as you can find. Using your own drawings or symbols or pictures from magazines, create a poster showing these examples of irony/satire.
Design a Brochure - It's 1845 and the Mississippi Riverboat Company has just hired you to create its new travel brochure. The purpose of the brochure is to highlight the interesting characters that one is likely to run across during the trip down the Mississippi River. Using what you have learned about human nature from the novel, describe - in detail -at least 3 interesting character types that travelers might expect to meet along the way. Be sure to connect your brochure and your chosen characters to the Mississippi River and depict the "travel" theme in your brochure as well. Of course, creativity will come in handy whether you do this by hand or on the computer, but be sure it is neat and correct.
Satire Summary - For your own reference, review the meanings of irony and satire. Then, find a section of the novel that you think is particularly satirical and write a one or two sentence summary of the satire that Twain used in this section. Be able to explain what message this satire is supposed to be sending to the readers.
World's Apart - Listen to the song World's Apart from Big River. Read the lyrics and answer the following questions about the changing characters of Huck/Jim:
~Does this song argue for or against the idea that Jim is a
~How does this song show that Huck and Jim have been deeply
affected by their journey together?
~Twain wrote in a journal that Huck Finn is a book of mine where a
sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and
conscience suffers defeat." What do you think he meant by "a
sound heart and a deformed conscience?" (hint - think of this
statement in reference to the society Twain was a part of.) How
is "conscience" a theme in this novel?
Attribute Web (Huck/Jim) -Using the handout created for this assignment, create an attribute web for Jim that lists clues about what he is like. Then use the back of your paper to make an attribute web for Huck.
Guilt Chart - If Huck were alive today, he might be arrested for some of the things he did. At it is, he has only his own conscience to answer to. Huck feels very guilty about some of his activities, and not at all guilty about others. Chart the about of this guilt about each of the listed incidents on the graph below. Be prepared to defend your explanations.
Story Map - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an episodic novel made up of one incident
leading to another in a cause-effect chain. Complete the story map below with what you think
are the most important episodes.
Learn the Virginia Reel and its History - What dance would the people of Huck's time most likely be doing? Probably the Virginia Reel. This has been a popular dance since the beginning of our country. It is still danced by square dancing clubs around the country. It's truly a dance that represents the American spirit. You can find out about this dance on the internet, even the steps are given, but I can show you the steps, too, if the instructions don't make sense to you. I do have music you may use. You must tell the class where this dance originated and then teach it to them.
Find Authentic Recipes - Let's eat! Plan to prepare a recipe to share with the class at our end of the novel party. Your recipe should be something that would be typical of Missourians of the 1830's and 1830's. Be sure you can answer the question - why would this be a popular recipe of the day?
Create a Comic Strip - Choose a scene from the novel that ridicules slavery, racism, or both and develop a comic strip based on this scene. You might choose to portray the scene as it is found in the novel, or you might use the scene as a springboard for developing your own idea for the comic strip. Possible scenes to consider: Jim imprisoned in the shed (Ch. 34-40), disguising Jim as an Arab (Ch. 24), the sale of the Wilkses slaves (Ch. 27-8). Be sure your comic strip is a satire on the idea of racism or the institution of slavery or both. The comic strip must include at least 3 frames either hand drawn or computer generated. Be sure to include dialogue that is relevant and accurate for the characters used and the drawings are neat and understandable.
Anti-Huck Poster - Choose one of the challenges against the book discussed in class (or find another) and design a poster to express the point of view of that challenge. For example, a poster that could have been created by the Brooklyn Public Library in 1907 warning parents not to let children read the book. You don't have to agree with the point of view portrayed in the poster, just convey it accurately. Be prepared to explain your poster and the challenge it represents.
We Wear the Mask Poster - Read the poems "Minstrel Man" by Langston and "We Wear the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar. In a poster of your design, explain the "mask" being referred to in these poems. (Hint - do you see the "mask" as a stereotype or a form of resistance?) Be prepared to explain your poster. This assignment could be done as a bulletin board, too.
Jim/Huck Press Conference - To truly understand and appreciate this novel, the reader must understand not only how Huck and Jim change as individuals, but also how they change each other. With one, two, or three other people prepare a "press conference" for Huck and/or Jim with at least one group member playing the part of these characters. The others in the group will become "the media". Prepare questions and responses for this interview. For example, you might ask Jim how he felt when he was enslaved again on Phelps Farm. The novel can help in coming up with questions but also with responses true to the characters. You will perform this press conference for the class.
Ch. 6 Group Work - With a group of 5-7 others discuss Ch. 6. Pap Finn uses the "n-word" multiple times in this chapter. Discuss: Why might Twain have used the word here with such frequency? Have someone in your group read passages from this section replacing the n-word with a non-threatening word (like slave or African-American). Your group should discuss how changing this word changes the meaning or impact of this chapter. Does this scene support or refute the charge that the book is racist? Everyone in your group should be familiar with this chapter and participate in the discussion. When the discussion has ended, each member should write a summary of what he/she learned from this discussion. Be sure to cite comments made in the discussion which you found especially important. These summaries should be done individually, not as a group, but be sure to include the names of your group members in your response.
Compare/Contrast of Slave Life - Read "Conditions of Slave Life". (Found in the reference folders) Then with your group of 5-7, find as many points of comparison between the essay and the novel. Some suggestions for points of comparison could be: beliefs about slaves, description of slave life and slave masters, stereotyping, family, learning, freedom, superstition, religion. I would suggest you assign one of these topics to each member of your group and give everyone a couple of days to find quotes, examples, etc. to show these points of comparison between the real life of the day and the novel. Steven Mintz's "The Introduction", copies of which can be found in the resource folders or in the school library, may also help.
Write in Huck's Journal - Write one or two journal entries for Huck, concerning a lesson that he has learned about human nature during his travels along the Mississippi. For example, you might choose to highlight Huck's feelings about Miss Watson, about his relationship with Jim, or between the Grangerford and Shepherdsons. Use details from the novel in your entries.
Effects of Slavery Today (Pair work) - Some people feel that race relations in America today are still influenced by the legacy of slavery. What is that legacy? How does it relate to reading Huck Finn? Throughout the unit, you and a partner should collect newspaper and magazine articles, music lyrics, poems, (see my poetry resource folder), excerpts from books, artwork, etc. that you and your partner believe in some way express how America is still affected by slavery today. At the end of the unit I will ask you and your partner to explain your findings that you have displayed in scrapbook form.
Important Events Map - As Huck and Jim journey down the Mississippi, readers may begin to notice that their experiences alone on the raft, or in nature in general, are very different from their experiences whenever they are on the shore in "sivilization." What is Twain saying by creating this division? Create your own map of the journey. (You may want to refer to the sample picture of the Mississippi River and how it looked at this time.) Your map should show what you believe are the most important events in the novel and should include a significant quote at each map point. Overall, your map should visually express the symbolic differences between the river and "sivilization."
The River analysis - Listen to the tape of 3 selections from Big River,
reading the lyrics as you listen. Using a pack of 4 highlighters, highlight references in the lyrics to the following ideas:
~yellow - the size and power of the river
~blue - river as a mode of travel
~pink - river as a means of escape
~green - the river as an unknown entity
When you have finished highlighting, turn your work in, but be prepared to answer the burning
question: How is life like a river?
Huck Finn Racist - Is or isn't The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? Does read Huck Finn help or harm race relations? From reading the novel and all the other projects you have done write a 2-3 page argumentative paper defending your decision. (This could be used as one of your paper assignments and for your portfolio.)
Kathy Monteiro - agree or disagree - Review the case of Kathy Monteiro and her complaint against the Tempe, AZ school board, as shown in Born to Trouble . Do you agree or disagree with her? In a 2-3 page argumentative paper. Argue either for or against teaching the novel in the school curriculum. Keep in mind those objections that would come from community members, teachers, parents, administrators, etc. (This could be used as one of your paper assignments and for your portfolio.)
Central Character : Jim or Huck? Consider the assertion made by some literary experts that Jim not Huck is the central character. Do you agree or disagree: In a 2-3 page argumentative paper, defend your answer. Be sure to support you answer by citing specific passages from the book. (This could be used as one of your paper assignments and for your portfolio.)
Play vs. Book - You have had the opportunity to see one man's version of Twain's novel. In a 2-3 page compare/contrast paper, compare and/or contrast these two presentations. (This could be
used as one of your paper assignments and for your portfolio.)