January 31, 2011, Issue
What Is Courage?
Use the articles in this issue to explore
the theme of courage across different genres
How do characters, real and fictional, demonstrate courage?
In this lesson, students will read three stories in three different genres. They will discuss how the characters in these real-life and fictional stories demonstrate courage. Then students will write a reflective essay demonstrating their deeper understanding of what it means to be courageous.
• to develop a nuanced understanding of the word courage
• to compare and contrast real and fictional stories of courage
• to participate in discussion
• to write a reflective essay
You will need:
• the January 10, 2011, issue of Scope
• video clip
• Mark Twain quotation
• writing prompt
Duration: 10 minutes
Write the following quotation on the board:
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”—Mark Twain
As a class, discuss what this quotation means. Then brainstorm other definitions of courage and examples of how a person can be courageous.
Duration: 30 minutes, or one class period
As a class, read our Greek-mythology play The Monster in the Maze. (Project the play on your whiteboard as students follow along in the magazine.) As you read, pause when you come across an example of courage and make note of it on the board, modeling note-taking. (Pause the reading at first, but students should also raise their hands when they come across an example.) After reading, discuss as a class the list on the board. How does Theseus’ courage compare with the examples of courage students brainstormed in Step 1?
3. Group Reading
Duration: 30 minutes
Break students into small groups and have them read the nonfiction article “Disaster at Sea.” As they read, they should write down examples of courage, just as you did together in Step 2. When each group is finished, play this four-minute video clip of the actual rescue. What did they learn from the video that they didn’t learn from the article? How does the video highlight the drama of the situation? What feelings does it evoke? What images in the clip make the courage of the Coast Guard rescue team and the Ranger crew all the more impressive?
Next, have each group come up with three ways the courage shown in this article and clip is similar to, and different from, the courage shown in the play.
4. Individual Reading
Duration: 30 minutes (also makes good homework!)
Have students read “The Courage to Go to School.” As they read the article, have them write down specific examples of how Elizabeth Eckford and Shamsia Husseini are courageous. Then have them write a paragraph comparing the girls’ courage with the courage shown in The Monster in the Maze and a paragraph comparing the girls’ courage with the courage in “Disaster at Sea.”
5. Reflective Essay
Students demonstrate their understanding of courage by writing a reflective essay in response to the essential question: How do characters, real and fictional, demonstrate courage? They should draw on their analysis of each story in the issue.
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