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NATURALISM Unit Plan Josh Cauhorn

Unit Rationale

This Unit will introduce students to the American Realism movement of the mid to late
19th Century. Students will read texts from the era and discuss historical context so that
they fully understand the literature of the time. Not only is Realism a culturally important
era in American Literature, it also parallels many types of writing today and can provide
tools to students for making sense of their own world. Students will also write a narrative
essay mimicking elements of the effective writing style used by Frederick Douglass.

Unit Content Outline

This unit will begin with a pre-test over concepts of Realism, authors within the
movement, and some literary devices that will be covered in their works. In addition,
there will be a choice project where the students will delve further into a specific work or
topic within the movement; these projects will be presented in order that the entire class
will be exposed to the full breadth of the movement. Finally, there will be narrative essay
assigned that will synthesize knowledge of effective stylistic elements demonstrated
primarily by Douglass.

Lesson One: This lesson will introduce Realism and provide a connection between
slavery in America during the Civil War and slavery in today’s world.

Lesson Two: This lesson will be a discussion of Frederick Douglass’s narrative of his
own bondage in slavery. A focus will be put on the key aspects of a narrative piece (e.g.
the optimal style of a narrative, etc.). This will be the serious introduction for the
assigned Narrative Essay.

Lesson Three: This lesson will put in context Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and
Gettysburg Address. The history of the works will be covered, as well as the elements
that make them so profound.

Work Day for Narrative Essay.

Lesson Four: This lesson will be a discussion of Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek
Bridge,” emphasizing his use of point of view to make his work effective. The key
question will be asked: “What literary aspects, common in Realism, make the works so

Lesson Five: This lesson will introduce the subcategory of Regionalism. An excerpt from
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will be used, and the aspects of Regionalism, such
as dialect and an emphasis on culture at a small-scale, will be explained.

Lesson Six: This lesson will be a discussion of “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” by Bret
Harte, a key work of American Regionalism. Aspects discussed in the last lesson will be
applied to this work.

Work Day for Narrative Essay and Option Project.

Lesson Seven: This lesson will elaborate upon the subcategory of Naturalism using
Stephen Crane’s “Open Boat.” Students will ask the key questions of Naturalism,
exploring the perceived cruelty and removedness of the actions of Nature as
understood by the writers involved in the Naturalism movement.

Work Day for Option Project.

Day for presenting projects and finishing up.

Lesson Eight: This lesson will be a culmination of Realism and its two subcategories,
Regionalism and Naturalism. It will provide as a review for the test.

Unit Test.

IDOE Eleventh Grade Academic Standards

Standard 2: READING: Comprehension and Analysis of Nonfiction and

Informational Text
Students read and understand grade-level-appropriate text.

11.2.1 Analyze both the features and the rhetorical (persuasive) devices of different
types of public documents, such as policy statements, speeches, or debates, and the
way in which authors use those features and devices.

11.2.2 Analyze the way in which clarity of meaning is affected by the patterns of
organization, repetition of the main ideas, organization of language, and word choice in
the text.

11.2.4 Make reasonable assertions about an author’s arguments by using elements of

the text to defend and clarify interpretations.

11.2.5 Analyze an author’s implicit and explicit assumptions and beliefs about a subject.

11.2.6 Critique the power, validity, and truthfulness of arguments set forth in public
documents, speeches, or essays; their appeal to both friendly and hostile audiences;
and the extent to which the arguments anticipate and address reader concerns and

Standard 3: READING: Comprehension and Analysis of Literary Text

Students read and respond to grade-level-appropriate historically or culturally significant
works of literature.

11.3.1 Structural Features of Literature: Analyze characteristics of subgenres, types of

writings such as satire, parody, allegory, and pastoral that are used in poetry, prose,
plays, novels, short stories, essays, and other basic genres.
• Satire: using humor to point out weaknesses of people and society.
• Parody: using humor to imitate or mock a person or situation.
• Allegory: using symbolic figures and actions to express general truths about
human experiences.
• Pastoral: showing life in the country in an idealistic - and not necessarily
realistic - way.

11.3.2 Analyze the way in which the theme or meaning of a selection represents a view
or comment on life, using textual evidence to support the claim.

11.3.5 Analyze or evaluate works of literary or cultural significance in history (American,

English, or world) that:
• reflect a variety of genres in each of the respective historical periods.
• were written by important authors in the respective major historical periods.
• reveal contrasts in major themes, styles, and trends.
• reflect or shed light on the seminal philosophical, religious, social, political, or
ethical ideas of their time.
11.3.7 Analyze the clarity and consistency of political assumptions (statements that take
for granted something is true), beliefs, or intentions in a selection of literary works or
essays on a topic.

11.3.8 Analyze the philosophical arguments presented in literary works to determine

whether the authors' positions have contributed to the quality of each work and the
credibility of the characters.

Standard 5: WRITING: Applications (Different Types of Writing and Their

Students will combine rhetorical strategies or narration, exposition, persuasion, and
description; to produce presentations.

11.5.1 Write fictional, autobiographical, or biographical narratives that:

• narrate a sequence of events and communicate their significance to the
• locate scenes and incidents in specific places.
• describe with specific details the sights, sounds, and smells of a scene and the
specific actions, movements, gestures, and feelings of the characters; in the
case of autobiography or fiction, use interior monologue (what the character
says silently to self) to show the character's feelings.
• pace the presentation of actions to accommodate changes in time and mood.

11.5.2 Write responses to literature that:

• demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the significant ideas in works
or passages.
• analyze the use of imagery, language, universal themes, and unique aspects
of the text.
• support statements with evidence from the text.
• demonstrate an understanding of the author's style and an appreciation of the
effects created.
• identify and assess the impact of perceived ambiguities, nuances, and
complexities within the text.

11.5.3 Write reflective compositions that:

• explore the significance of personal experiences, events, conditions, or
concerns by using rhetorical strategies, including narration, description,
exposition, and persuasion.
• draw comparisons between specific incidents and broader themes that
illustrate the writer's important beliefs or generalizations about life.
• maintain a balance in describing individual events and relating those events to
more general and abstract ideas

11.5.6 Use varied and extended vocabulary, appropriate for specific forms and topics.

11.5.8 Deliver multimedia presentations that:

• combine text, images, and sound and draw information from many sources,
including television broadcasts, videos, films, newspapers, magazines, CD-
ROMs, the Internet, and electronic media-generated images.
• select an appropriate medium for each element of the presentation.
• use the selected media skillfully, editing appropriately, and monitoring for
• test the audience's response and revise the presentation accordingly.

Standard 6: WRITING: English Language Conventions

Student writing will demonstrate a command of Standard English and the research,
organization, and drafting strategies outlined above.

11.6.1 Demonstrate control of grammar, diction, paragraph and sentence structure, and
an understanding of English usage

11.6.2 Produce writing that shows accurate spelling and correct punctuation and


As a result of instruction, the student will be able to…

1. Explain the main idea of the American Realism movement. (11.3.5)

1.1 Name the subcategories of Naturalism and Regionalism.
1.2Connect the American Realism movement of the late 19th century to
current day. (11.3.5)
1.3 Describe why we should study literature in the Realism movement.
1.4 Explain different techniques used by writers to enhance their work.
2. Synthesize new knowledge of the narrative genre to produce an effective,
well-crafted narrative of his or her own. (11.2.2., 11.2.4., 11.2.5., 11.2.6.,
11.5.1.,11.5.3., 11.5.6., 11.6.1., 11.6.2.)
2.1 Break down the elements of style that make Douglass’s narrative vibrant
and effective.
2.2 Critique the effectiveness of Douglass’s style, considering potential goals
in writing the narrative.
2.3Reconstruct key elements of effective style in his or her own narrative.
3. Analyze historical documents to discover the author’s intent and beliefs as
well as the means he uses to persuade others to adopt his beliefs. (11.2.1.,
3.1Interpret the Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address to
discover Abraham Lincoln’s beliefs on the Civil War.
3.2Analyze rhetorical devices employed by Lincoln.
4. Come to a personal conclusion on the validity of Naturalism. (11.3.1., 11.3..2.,
11.3.5., 11.3.7., 11.3.8)
4.1Summarize aspects of Naturalism using textual proof from studied texts.
4.2 Synthesize this knowledge with personal beliefs.
4.3 Defend or deny the validity of Naturalism using clear, logical
5. Explain Regionalism’s importance in the cultural history of the United States.
(11.3.1., 11.3.5)
5.1 Describe the key identifiers of Regionalism in literature: use of dialect and
a focus on the unique aspects of a specific area.
5.2 Analyze the ways in which Regionalism accurately depicts real life in
1800’s America.

Summative Assessment

Proficiency on the above objectives will be proven using the following methods:
• a narrative essay
• projects that will be presented during class time
• a notes portfolio showing evidence of participation
• a unit exam, which will be in multiple choice, short answer, and timed essay
Accommodating Differentiated Learning

This unit follows concepts of differentiated learning, evidenced by the following:

• interpersonal (discussion and group projects)
• intrapersonal (journal writing and narrative essay)
• visual/spatial (graphic organizers and some drawing)
• auditory/linguistic (discussion, some lecture)
• musical (slave spiritual option project)
• kinesthetic (group option projects involving acting)