January 4 through 28


Days One, Two, Three, Four, and Five each week
(twenty days total)

Unit Theme:

Personal freedom versus responsibility toward others

Unit Essential Questions:

What is more important: your individual freedom or your responsibilities toward others?

Could you separate yourself from others in need?

Even if you were physically free, could you free yourself emotionally from your friends or family who needed you?

Essential Skills and Concepts:

Persuasively present a point of view on the theme of personal freedom versus responsibility toward others.

Analyze orally the author's purpose in a passage from piece of literature with respect to its importance for the work as a whole.

Show how a theme or meaning of a selection represents a view or comment on life, using textual evidence to support the claims.

Analyze how irony, tone, mood, style, and sound of language are used to achieve specific rhetorical and aesthetic purposed and to create meaning.

Analyze ways in which imagery, personification, figures of speech, and word sounds are used in poetry and prose to create meaning.

Produce responses to literature that demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of techniques, and support key ideas and viewpoints through accurate and detailed references to the text and to other works.

Use written language to pose questions for inquiry, organize information, and communicate it effectively.

Use rhetorical questions, parallelism, concrete images, figurative language, characterization, irony, and dialogue to achieve clarity, force, and aesthetic effect in written work.

Deliver persuasive presentations that include well-defined theses making clear and knowledgeable judgments; support arguments with detailed evidence, examples and reasoning, differentiating evidence from opinion.

Mini-Lesson Outline: The Glass Menagerie

Day 1: The teacher will share and discuss handout booklets concerning twentieth century drama. Each student will read "The Nature of Drama" in the text, pages 825 through 828, and answer the assigned questions.

Day 2: The teacher will explain to the class about the memory play, a very successful non-linear structural pattern in American drama. Each student will close their eyes and call up the memory of one of the following:

  • a happy event
  • a "panoramic" account of a particular summer
  • a return to a favorite place of one's childhood
  • a weekend afternoon spent with family members
  • the encounter of meeting someone known in the past

Students, with their eyes still closed, will scan their specific memory from several points of view specified by the teacher. Students will then open their eyes and record, in free-style writing, specifics from their memories based on the above scan and from other aspects in their recall.

Day 3: The teacher will give a multi-media presentation of the Depression Era. Students will read aloud, taking parts, Scene 1. Each student will begin to fill out character map worksheets for Amanda, Laura, and Tom with information known to this point. Students will begin to fill out metaphor worksheets using the metaphors found in the first narration. The teacher will help students make and test predictions.

Day 4: The teacher will show Scene 1 of the movie (The Glass Menagerie, directed by Paul Newman). Students will compare characters maps and discuss if they find any differences in what each wrote and the characters portrayed in the movie. The teacher can help students make and test predictions.

Day 5: Students will read together Scene 2. Each student will continue to fill out character maps, revising any traits found in Scene 2. For homework, students will use the character maps to describe Laura, her problem, and how Amanda should react.

Day 6: The class will discuss student responses, comparing students' opinions of what Amanda should do and predicting what they think she will do as they look as her character map. The teacher will read aloud Tom's narration at the beginning of Scene 3. Using a metaphor worksheet, students will fill in the passage analysis worksheets.

Day 7: The class will finish Scene 3. The teacher will show Scenes 2 and 3 of the movie. Students will fill in the character maps for Scene 3. In response journals, students will describe Tom's feelings addressing if he is right or wrong to feel like this towards his mother.

Day 8: The class will discuss Tom's character map and journal topics. Questions for discussion are the following

  • How does Tom feel?
  • Is he right to feel this way?
  • What would you do in this situation?

The teacher will show a visual of a magician and read Tom's narration. Students will fill in the oral commentary worksheets.

Day 9: The class will read aloud Scene 4. Students will fill in character maps contrasting Tom 's and Amanda's viewpoints about Laura. Students will respond in their journals to following questions

  • Does Amanda really believe what she is saying to Laura?
  • Why or why not?

Day 10: The teacher will play jazz music from 1930's. Students will read Tom's narration and fill in oral commentary worksheet. From the three oral commentary worksheets, each student will take one and write an essay, using the purpose as a thesis statement and the points as evidence.

Day 11: The class will read aloud Scene 5. The class will make predictions on the arrival of the gentleman caller as a solution to the family's problems. The class will discuss whether Tom has done enough for his family and whether he can do anything more? Students will continue character maps.

Day 12: The teacher will show Scenes 4 and 5 of the movie.

Day 13: The class will read aloud Scene 6. The teacher will show Scene 6 of the movie. Students will begin a character map of Jim. For homework, students will complete response journals on the following

  • Tennessee Williams describes Jim as ordinary. What does it mean to be ordinary?
  • Contrast Jim with the Wingfields.

Day 14: The class will read aloud Scene 7, as well as fill out and discuss Tom's character map at the end of the play. Students will compare Tom's character and the last monologue of the play emphasizing the idea of the search for personal freedom and the impossibility of escape (i.e., freedom vs. responsibility).

Day 15: The teacher will show Scene 7 of the movie. Each student will fill in the oral commentary worksheet on Tom's last monologue.

Days 16 through 20: The teacher will introduce the final assignments for assessment

  • Using the character maps to define character, each student will write a personal letter from one character to another. Accompanying the letter will be a two-paragraph rationale. The first paragraph should include the student's objectives (what the character is trying to prove according to the personality presented in the play). The second paragraph should include how evidence from the play allowed each student to reach the objectives for writing the letter (evidence of direct and indirect characterization in the play).

  • Socratic Seminar Discussion - The teacher will set aside one or two class periods for class discussion. The teacher will firmly establish and review basic manners which contribute to adult discussion techniques. The teacher will record the number of times that a student participates. Provided 3x5 cards on which to write their own evaluation of their discussion participation, students will complete these at the conclusion of the activity and turn in their 3x5 cards along with their notes. The topics follow
  1. Themes - difficulty accepting reality; the impossibility of true escape; the unrelenting power of memory
  2. Motifs - abandonment, music
  3. Symbols - Laura's glass menagerie, the glass unicorn, "Blue Roses," the fire escape, the movies, the phonograph records, the jonquil dress, the warehouse, the coffin trick, the blowing out of the candles at the end

  • Taking several passages from the play, students will prepare and then speak individually analyzing a passage according to the author's purpose. Students will deliver oral responses to literature that (1) demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the significant ideas of works or passages (2) analyze the use of imagery, language, universal themes, and unique aspects of text through the use of rhetorical strategies (3) support key ideas and viewpoints through accurate and detailed references to the text, (4) demonstrate awareness of the author's use of stylistic devices (5) identify and assess the impact of perceived ambiguities within the text.

See also...

Lesson Plans: ALIVE & ALOUD: Radio Plays for Learning in the Classroom, a program of L.A. Theatre Works, is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Student Activity
Sarah Valan - The Glass Menagerie Unit Plan