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Lesson Plan: The Scarlet Letter Character Pinwheel Discussion

Creator: Natalya Betzig

Date: Wednesday, March 21
Grade: 9-12
Number / Length: Likely extending into two blocks [75-120 minutes]

This lesson was taught in an English as a Second Language course geared towards WIDA
level 3 developing learners, of various grade levels, at a public high school. Most of the
students placed in this class were approximately in the same language proficiency level, but of
course a few students fell slightly below or above level 3 English learners in certain domains.
Grade levels 9-12 were represented in the classroom, and ages ranged between 14 and 20 years
old. In order of most to least heavily represented, L1 backgrounds included Spanish,
Portuguese, Haitian Creole, French, and Arabic.

We chose to have a pinwheel discussion at the end of this unit on The Scarlet Letter for three
main reasons. 1) It will serve as strong oral practice, as all students in the class will have an
opportunity to speak, listen, and respond orally to other ideas. 2) This activity builds on prior
understandings in a new, and appropriately challenging way. At this point students have a
strong understanding of each character’s traits, motivations, and important events. They will
have already written a thorough analysis (3 paragraph essay) of one character, and last week
they completed a jigsaw activity compiling what they know about each character’s resolution
and theme. The pinwheel discussion is an additional challenge, that pushes them to use the
knowledge they have to step into the shoes and act appropriately as each character. 3) This
high engagement discussion activity will allow students to practice social / communication
skills such as teamwork, collaboration, and public speaking. It will also give practice in turn
taking (question and response) and question formation (language). Thus, it is a strong enforcer
of classroom values such as respect, communal learning, and persevering through challenge.

Standard Activity
English language learners communicate for As a culminating task after reading The
social and instructional purposes within the Scarlet Letter and writing a corresponding
school setting. (WIDA ELD Standard 1) character analysis essay, students prepare
key ideas and questions in small groups (of
four or five) and partake in a whole-class
pinwheel discussion.

Prior knowledge and new learning

Prior Knowledge: Last week, students finished reading an adaptation of The Scarlet Letter.
After (and during) reading each chapter of the novel, students collected evidence of each
character and described character traits for each main character; this they kept in their class
notes. Students are also completing a well-developed essay, to analyze one character in depth.

New Learning: The pinwheel discussion format is new, and the hypothetical questions that
students create will likely be new questions (or old questions phrased differently), so students
will experience demonstrating their understandings of each character in a new format, as well
as working in groups to achieve a common goal.

Content: This pinwheel discussion should help students to develop a deeper understanding of
each character, by “stepping into their shoes”. Students will need to truly understand a
character’s personality traits, important events, and motives in order to respond as they would,
to a variety of questions. As a culminating task of the unit, this activity supplements the essay
that they are currently working on, which is an analysis of one character.

Social Emotional Learning: Students will need to negotiate meaning and understanding in
heterogeneous groups. Students will practice social skills and team work as they prepare to
present, and they will also practice public speaking skills and active listening during the

Content Objective:
SWBAT write, listen to, and accurately respond orally to questions from the POV of central
characters in The Scarlet Letter, after (guided) preparing in small groups, in a pinwheel
Language Objectives
- Write and verbally ask relevant questions with the use of sentence stems (Why..., Do
you agree or disagree..., How would … if..., How do you feel about…) and small
group support
- Respond to questions in complete sentences, orally
- Listen and take written notes that accurately describe classmates’ responses
- Students each have copies of The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (adapted by
Stephen Feinstein)
- Class notes on character traits, in student binders, saved throughout the unit (as
- Student facing PPT with objectives, instructions, and visuals (in Drive)
- 2-sided classwork sheets (one for each student) to use during preparation and during
pinwheel activity (this will also serve as the exit ticket for this activity)
- Name cards (Hester, Dimmesdale, Chillingworth, Facilitator)
- Grading Rubric
Procedure (The How)
1. (Opening): Quick charades game - Who am I? Ms. B/early arriving students will act
out each character, students guess which character they are (Dimmesdale, Hester,
Pearl, Chillingworth, The Witch). Ask: How do you know? Push students to speak in
complete sentences (because they…). “We know so much about these characters!
Today we’re going to get the chance to act like them!” [3 minutes]
2. Present and choral read the day’s objectives and rationale. “We are doing this now
because you are all experts on each character, after having read the book so many
times and written an essay. Now, we are going to try something fun, new and different
to show what we know about each character. Everyone will practice their English!”
[2 minutes]
3. Read and clarify pinwheel activity instructions, with PPT. Do explain the entire
activity, with special attention to the preparation part at this time. The discussion part
will be reviewed again when it is time to present. [5 minutes]
4. Read and clarify grading rubric and answer any questions about the assignment.
[5 minutes]
5. Post group assignments on board and move to group work locations / assigned
character or role (Hester, Chillingworth, Dimmesdale, Facilitator). [3 minutes]
6. Collaborative learning activity [25-30 minutes]: Students will prepare to present in
groups, using the classwork sheet and their notes on character traits to form Qs & As.
Teacher should circulate to each group to clarify materials and instructions.
a. Practice Presenting with group members: When students finish preparing
(4-8 anticipated questions / responses per group), they should assign the
questions and each practice being their character, while the other members ask
them questions. Each student practices answering multiple questions (as many
as time allows)! Everyone will get a chance to present, as their character / All
facilitators will have a chance to ask questions.
b. Additional Extension: If groups finish early, they should answer and discuss
the additional character questions provided (worksheet will be provided).
7. Return to seats and set up pinwheel discussion. Review discussions on PPT / SMART
board. Model active listening and public voice / confidence for presenting. CFU
instructions, and ensure name tags are properly placed. “What will students be doing
when someone is presenting? What does that look like? What will presenters sound /
look like?” [5 minutes]
8. Discussion Based Learning Activity [20-25 minutes]: Students discuss, teacher
listens and tries not to intercede. Let the facilitators do their job and be okay with a
little extra wait time, to ensure discussion is student centered. Circulate, use proximity,
non-verbal cues, and take notes on student behaviors during the discussion. Note
behaviors within grading categories on clipboard.
9. (Closing): Review objectives, clarify homework assignment, then share highlights
(positive reinforcement) from the activity with all students. If time is running short,
ask students to rate the activity (fist to five) on how challenging and how engaging it
was for them. If time allows, complete self-assessment within grading rubrics. All
students pass in their completed classworks, to be graded. [5-12 minutes]

Differentiated Supports / Additional Notes for Covering Teacher:

- Sentence starters should be provided, as needed, if students struggle to produce
questions. (Why did… what would you … if… How did / do you feel about... )
- Point students to their binder to find their notes on characters / encourage teamwork, if
they seem disoriented / disorganized or don’t remember specifics.
- Students who struggle to demonstrate active/respectful listening behaviors during the
discussion should be redirected privately first. Pause the discussion if necessary
(should behaviors interfere).
- All groups will have guiding questions in their classwork preparation sheets.

Formative - In their groups, students will complete a worksheet to prepare for the discussion.
These notes will serve as a formative assessment of their understanding of each character.
Teacher circulates to read and give quick feedback to each group on their preparation.
Students will also practice orally in each group, providing additional opportunities for

Summative - The discussion serves as the formative assessment, with a final, combined
individual and group grade worth 15 points. Students will orally respond to each question, in a
manner that shows they understand their assigned character’s personality traits, motives, and
experiences. Students will be assessed based on the accuracy of their oral responses and
prepared questions during the discussion, as well as their attentive behavior. They will take
notes on the back of their worksheets while others are presenting.

- Reflective journal entry: Did you enjoy the activity? Why or why not? What was easy for
you? What was difficult? Was this a good way for you to practice your English? Why or
why not? What did your group do well? How could they improve?
- Creative Writing / Author’s Style Prompt: Write a journal entry or letter from the
perspective of your team’s character. Pretend that it is 1646 (or 1656) and tell me about
your weekend. How was it? What did you do?
- Self-rate / grade selves on individual effort, active listening, and teamwork
- Poster - Post it notes (What did you learn from each character in The Scarlet Letter?)
- Reader’s theater (select scenes that showcase the characters interacting with each other)
- More charades (widen to all characters studied this year)