The Scarlet Letter Unit
Prefatory Statement-This unit is an introduction to Nathaniel
Hawthorne and his novel The Scarlet Letter. Students will choose
3 of 5 short stories by Hawthorne to read and discuss before starting
The Scarlet Letter. The 3 short stories will be chosen from among:
"Rappacini's Daughter," "The Birthmark," "My
Kinsman Mr. Molineux," "Roger Malvin's Burial,"
and "The Minister's Black Veil." The three short stories
are important because they give the students examples of Nathaniel
Hawthorne's writing. Since they have probably not read Hawthorne
before, this introduction will familiarize them with his writing.
This will make the reading of The Scarlet Letter much easier.
Students will participate in small and whole group discussions
about the short stories, as well as The Scarlet Letter. By participating
in these discussions, students will learn to find evidence to
back up their statements. One discussion even makes the students
argue and find evidence against something they believe. By having
students argue against something they believe, they will be forced
to look especially hard for evidence to support their position.
After the reading of The Scarlet Letter, students will assemble
and put on a play about the novel. They will re-write the scenes,
make the set and props, and perform their new play. This will
give students experience at public speaking, working as a group,
and finding the most important parts of a work. Students will
also be writing about the short stories and the novel throughout
the unit. This will give them experience at analyzing works.
Hawthorne is an important author to teach to students because he does a great job of exploring early American history in his novels. Even though he did not write about the time in which he lived while writing The Scarlet Letter, he was quite a bit closer to that time than an author would be today. He accurately describes the life of the Puritans in his novel, so in a way, the novel can be considered an historical text. There are also social injustices in The Scarlet Letter which are important for students to study. Their writing can benefit from looking deep into the text and by making their own assumptions after discussing these injustices.
The standard attached to this unit is Literary and Arts Creation and Performance. In forming and putting on the play, this standard will be met.
Class Description- This unit is appropriate for grade 11, regular and advanced classes. It is not appropriate for basic or remedial classes due to the difficulty of the text. Concepts such as symbolism will be focused on. This would be too difficult for a student to worry about if they are having trouble even reading the text. The unit should not be harder/easier for different socio-economic groups. However, the works will be difficult for most students who read it. Students with dialect differences will either be in the basic classes or be able to understand the unit. The regular grade 11 class will be writing their paper about a part of the plot of The Scarlet Letter. The rest of the unit will be the same, other than more time will be spent on plot in the regular class, and more time will be spent on symbols in the advanced class.
Significant Assumptions- I assume students learn by practice (the paper) and by discussions. I assume this learning will happen by listening to other students ideas, as well as the teacher's. The student will make their own assumptions. They will form their opinions during this discussion. I assume that students care about learning Hawthorne's works. I also assume that students need to learn about a dead white author because of his use as a cultural historian as well as a great writer of symbolism. I assume that each student's writing can benefit from looking deep into the text and making his/her own assumptions in an essay. I assume that studying the culture of the Puritans will help students understand the text. I also assume that The Scarlet Letter is not appropriate for basic-remedial classes.
- Students will better understand how Nathaniel Hawthorne writes.
-Students will become more comfortable in reading Hawthorne's works.
-Students will better understand the period the novel was written in.
Standard: Literary and Arts Creation Performance
- In dance, music, theater, visual arts, creative writing, or media arts, a student shall demonstrate understanding of the elements, techniques, and processes of the selected art form and how works of the art form are structured; and, in the art form, the student shall create or perform, or both, an original artistic presentation including a single complex work or multiple works that:
A. demonstrates elements and skills of art form;
B. demonstrates artistic decisions to communicate intent;
C. demonstrates a sense of an artistic whole;
D. demonstrates a consideration of audience; and
E. uses multiple sources for critique and feedback.
Whole Group Activities- Sections of the text will be read
out loud during class periods so students can gain a better understanding
of the work. It will be easier for students to hear the difficult
texts read out loud.
The students will put on a play for the community which will be re-written in small groups in the class. This play works towards the standard and the performance package.
There will be a 15 minute discussion on who the main character of The Scarlet Letter is. The class will be divided into 2 teams. Each team will be told whether they need to argue for Hester Prynne or Arthur Dimmesdale as the main character. This is important so the students can learn to find evidence for an argument that they may or may not necessarily believe in.
There will be a general discussion about The Scarlet Letter after the reading is completed.
Discussion Questions for The Scarlet Letter
1. Do you believe that Hester was treated as other Puritan
women would have been treated at the time who had committed adultery?
1. How do you think that Hester would be treated today?
1. How do you think Dimmesdale would be treated today?
1. Why is this novel always taught in American Literature classes? Why is it important?
1. What does this novel tell us about human nature?
1. Why has this novel lasted-endured?
1. What universal truths does it contain that all people, in any time period and culture, can relate to? Any?
2. What does the narrator say the moral of the story is? (Be true! Be true! Be true!)
Another discussion will take place on a different day, after the novel is read.
1. Class-Would Hester have been treated differently if she would have had a different social status?
2. Would Dimmesdale?
3. Were people considered witches who were of the upper class?
4. Gender-Was Hester punished more severely than a man would have been, drawing on what you know about the Puritans?
5. Would another woman be treated the same way?
6. Times-Would Hester and Arthur be treated the same today as they were in the story?
7. Would the man's responsibility be different? How?
Small Group Activities- Students will break up into groups
of 3 to find evidence of who the main character of The Scarlet
Letter is. These findings will be brought back to the whole group
Students will also be assigned portions of the text to rewrite in modern language for the play that will be put on for the community. They will also work on making posters to hang up around the school for advertisements of their play. This works towards the standard because it makes the students think about their audience.
Individual Activities- Part way through reading the text, students
will predict the ending and will write their own endings. This
essay is to be an in-class assignment and will be read aloud to
the class, if the student agrees. They will then finish the reading
to see how close they were. (See attachment for handout.)
Students will individually pick out and read 3 of the 5 specified short stories. This will help them to understand the way Hawthorne writes before they start reading The Scarlet Letter.
Students will also pick a symbol which occurs throughout the novel and write about it.
Ongoing Activities- The play that will be put on will be an ongoing activity. Students will be working on rewriting the novel itself, making advertisements, and learning their lines. They must then actually perform the revised play. The text itself is also an ongoing assignment. Throughout most of the unit, the students will be working on the text, as well as assessment of the text.
Student and Teacher Resources- The students and the teacher will need The Scarlet Letter book as well as the collection of short stories. The short stories text will be Collections of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The short stories needed from this text include: "Rappacini's Daughter," "The Birthmark," "My Kinsman Mr. Molineux," "Roger Malvin's Burial," and "The Minister's Black Veil." Students will also need to figure out and make the props for the play. They will need paints, tagboard, markers, brushes, cardboard for making props, clothes to be used as costumes, pens and paper.
Unit Launch- I will enter the classroom wearing a witch costume and I will explain about the Salem Witch Trials in a mock personal story (See attachment). This will help students understand the times of the Puritans, when The Scarlet Letter was written. The students will have read 3 of the 5 short stories for class this day. A discussion of the short stories will precede the beginning of reading The Scarlet Letter.
Organization of the Unit-
Week 1- The first week of the unit will be used to get students comfortable with reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's works. There will be a discussion of all of the short stories assigned. Students will do a 30 minute in-class writing on how the 3 short stories are the same and how they're different. This writing will not be graded for mechanics or grammar but will focus on content. Students will begin reading The Scarlet Letter.
Week 2- Students will work all week on getting through the novel. The teacher will have students read out loud, especially towards the beginning of the novel. There will also be in-class silent reading time. The teacher will tell students to be thinking about how they will rewrite the novel to fit their play. The re-writing will be written in modern day language. The teacher will tell them to think about what will be included and what will be left out. The students will break up into small groups after the teacher explains what symbolism is (when something stands for something else). The students will find examples of symbolism in the novel. The whole group will then discuss the findings.
Week 3- Students will write an essay which predicts the ending of the novel. This will be assigned the previous Friday and will be due on Wednesday. The students will finish the novel for Friday. On Friday, there will be an in-class writing on, "Who is the main character of The Scarlet Letter?"
Week 4- This entire week will be devoted to getting the scene ready for the play. The teacher will work on getting the time for the play set up and getting an advertisement for the paper. The students will work on posters to be put up around the school. Students will spend time in small groups discussing what they want to include, as well as rewriting their parts. The class will then put the whole thing together and begin passing out parts and practicing lines.
Week 5- Practice continues and the play will be on Wednesday (approximate length 10-15 minutes).
Lesson Plan Day 1-
-Students will better understand how Hawthorne writes.
-Students will become more comfortable reading Hawthorne's works.
-Students will better understand the period the novel was written in.
Materials: Students will need copies of all 3 short stories for reading. The teacher can have witch costume to enter classroom with to capture the students attention.
Methods- The teacher will wear witch costume to class and will
recite a mock personal story about how she was treated as a witch
during the Puritan times. (5 min.)
Ask students what they know about Puritans and their way of life. (3 min.)
Description of Puritans and their way of life and tie in of costume to the Puritans. (5 min.)
Students will pick 3 of 5 specified short stories to read. Reading will begin. (20 min.) (Students should have at least 1 read in this time)
For the last 10 minutes, the teacher will ask students to describe what happens in their stories. The plots of these stories will be used to get students interested in reading the other stories.
The teacher will give the assignment. (1 min.)
Homework: Finish reading the selected short stories and bring in questions for the next class period about the stories read.
Assessment: The teacher will know students have met the objectives
-They have questions the next day about the reading.
-By the time they read the 3rd story, the students will tell the teacher they are feeling more comfortable with the reading.
-The student can connect the history lesson to the short stories by discussion.
-The student participates in class discussion of readings.
Lesson Plan Week 3-
The novel should be 2/3 read, students should be ready for discussion.
Objective/Standard- The student will be able to apply
specific critical criteria to interpret and analyze The Scarlet
-The student will be able to communicate an informed interpretation using the vocabulary of literature.
-The student will become more comfortable with the discussion part of class.
Method- Student will read parts of the text out loud
so as the teacher can check for understanding. (20 min.)
-Student will be given a reading check quiz to make sure reading has occurred. (10 min.) (See attachment) -Teacher will discuss the text as it stands at the point the students have read to. (10 min.)
-Teacher will go over and discuss the paper that will be due 4 days from the given date. The paper is to predict the ending of The Scarlet Letter using the clues from the text which are already given. Teacher asks for questions. (5 min.) (See handout attachment)
Homework: To continue reading The Scarlet Letter, Ch. 7-10.
To start thinking about what to write about the ending of the text.
-Students will be following along in the text while the out loud reading is occurring.
-Students will prove they are making progress on the novel by getting at least 8/10 on the reading check quiz.
-Students will come to class with a clear rough draft for the teacher to look over and make suggestions on.
3rd Lesson Plan-
Week 4- Students will have already finished text for this week.
-Students will describe the elements and the structure of the literature, and the artistic intent.
-Students will turn Hawthorne's artistic intent into their own.
-Students will gain experience speaking in public and become more comfortable doing so.
-Students will participate together in creating the production and actually doing it.
The teacher will explain the day's work. (1 min.)
Students will get into groups of 3 (teacher choice) and will discuss what they think Hawthorne meant to be the most important parts of the novel. (5 min.) (See attachment) They will bring this back to the whole group which will then decide what to put in the play. (10 min.)
Students will then go back to their groups and start writing out these parts in their own words. (20 min.)
Teacher will explain that he/she will get the stage at school to do the play. She/he will also make up an ad to put into the paper which advertises the play. It will be explained that students will make up the posters to go around the school. (1 min.)
In their small groups, students will spend the rest of the period working on the posters. (16 min.)
Homework: Students will complete at least 1 poster and bring it to class the following day. Either a time needs to be worked out where students can get together, or one student needs to finish the poster. Work should continue on the rewriting of the scenes. This can be done over the phone.
Assessment: The teacher will know that the objectives are being met if the student actively participates in the process of creating the production. The students will also meet the standards if they come to class with their finished poster and more work done on their scenes.
Symbolism Essay Handout
Essay- In a 3 page typed (double-spaced) essay, write about how Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism to reinforce many of the themes in The Scarlet Letter. Keep in mind that many of these symbols are recurring and their significance changes as the story moves on.
Write about one of these symbols. Discuss what it is, what it symbolizes, and how it changes throughout the novel. Also discuss how this theme ties into the ultimate meaning of the novel (what Nathaniel Hawthorne wants you to get out of it). Use the text to support your claims. Your essay need not have a works cited page, but you must cite page numbers for any quotes used.
Some examples of symbols to choose from if you wish:
the letter A
You have 1 week to finish this paper. It will be due next Wednesday.
Handout for Rewriting of Scenes of Novel for Play
In your small groups, you are to get out your text book and think about what are the most important parts of the play. You have been assigned a group number and a section of text to work with. After your group decides which sections are the most important, you are to begin to write out these parts as if you were writing a play. Your section should be around 2-3 minutes when performed.
Group 1: Chapters 1-3
Group 2: Chapters 4-6
Group 3: Chapters 7-10
Group 4: Chapters 11-13
Group 5: Chapters 14-17
Group 6: Chapters 18-20
Group 7: Chapters 21-23
Group 8: Chapters 24-26
Prediction of the Ending of the Novel Handout
You have now read up to Ch. 16. Hawthorne has still not given the identity of Pearl's father or many other crucial facts. Play detective. Using the evidence Hawthorne has already given, write an ending to The Scarlet Letter. You may use dialogue if you choose. Try to talk about each character and describe what happens to them. This should NOT be a summary. Write an actual ending to the novel.
The ending should be 2-3 typed double-spaced pages in length and will be due in 4 days, on Friday. The paper should be turned in at the start of class. Late papers will be docked a full grade.
Reading Check Quiz
What does Hester do for a living?
Describe the reaction of the townspeople when Hester
steps out of the jail for the first time.
What is growing outside of the prison?
Describe Pearl in terms of how she acts towards her
What does the forest symbolize?
Text for the Witch Story
My name is Elizabeth. Not too many of you have seen me out and about in the daytime. I, however, have seen each of you out in the woods at night. You try to hide, and you think no one can see you, but I can. I am out there too. I dance and yell and sacrifice small animals. I am a witch as most of you are. I am being persecuted by you, the Puritan townsfolk. You see me as evil and villainous, but what you don't realize is that I see you the same way. You sneak through the forest at night and then point fingers towards others by day. Each of you is as guilty as I. We are all sinners and should be left alone. LEAVE ME BE!!!
Lecture Notes on Puritan History
Late 1520's-Henry VIII on throne.
-designates himself head of the Church of England
Queen Mary Tudor ends up on the throne (Bloody Mary)
-demands Roman Catholicism
-John Foxe develops vision of what England could be, if only God's Word was followed
1558- Mary dies
-Protestant sister Elizabeth comes to the throne
-Protestant people return by the hundreds
1563- John Foxe's Book of Martyrs is published
-book calls to bring the Church of England and the entire nation into full conformity of the Word of God
-Queen Elizabeth doesn't fully believe in these extreme callings
-division into two parties
-those who follow Elizabeth and favor rationalistic understanding of the partnership of church and state
-those who follow Foxe who insisted on purification.
-term Puritans arises
-no agreement between parties so the Puritans left for Massachusetts Bay.
-Puritans retain English history
Quote from the Book of Martyrs
During Mary's reign, hundreds had died for their faith. Would
the people of England
honor those deaths by seizing the marvelous opportunity the Lord had given England
by removing Mary and replacing her with Elizabeth?
Would the people of England now insist that their church and
their state be completely
purified of all non-biblical elements so that both institutions (and all the people therein)
might bring singular honor to the Lord God of Scripture?
Learning Area: Literature and the Arts
Educational Level: High School
Content Standard: Literary and arts creation and performance-Visual Arts
In visual arts, a student shall demonstrate understanding of the elements, techniques, and processes of the visual art form and how works of the visual art form are structured; and, in the visual art form, the student shall create or perform, or both, an original visual art presentation including a single complex work or multiple works that:
demonstrates elements and skills of the visual art form
B. demonstrates artistic decisions to communicate intent
C. demonstrates a sense of an artistic whole
demonstrates a consideration of audience
E. uses multiple sources for critique and feedback
Products/Evidence of Learning:
-Students will have re-written the specified scenes from the novel into modern day words
Students will use specified scenes from The Scarlet Letter to re-write the novel as a play. Students will be working in groups of 3 to accomplish this task.
You are to have read Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter before you begin this task. You will be divided up into 8 groups of 3. Each group will be given three or four chapters from the novel to work with (See attachment for group chapter assignment). You are to flip through your chapters to refresh your memory about what happened in them. Pick out the important things that happened. Re-write the scenes for your chapters in your own words. These are to be written out as if you are writing a play. You should keep your rewriting between 2-3 minutes when performed out loud. When each group has completed the assignment, the new play will be put together. Acting parts will then be given out and rehearsals can begin.
Checklist for Task 1
______ Student effectively changes Hawthorne's words
into own for purposes of modernizing the novel.
______ Student makes logical decisions about what to _______
include in re-writing.
______ Student proves that he/she adequately considers
what others think about in their sections when
______ Student adequately proves that audience was a _______
consideration when choosing what to write about:
evidenced by what is written about.
Teacher's Grade Book
______ Student worked well within group
______ Student listened to others views
______ Student contributed to project
Products/Evidence of Learning:
Students will have sufficient final posters to put up to advertise for the play.
Students will work in groups of two to create a poster which advertises the class play.
The teacher will divide you up into groups of two. Each group will be given posterboard and either markers or colored pencils. Each group is to create a poster which advertises the upcoming play to the school. These posters should explain: who, what, where, when, how much. Students will write evaluations on each other for grading purposes. Each group should take liberties in artistic design. No two posters should be alike. Try to finish the posters by the end of the class period. If you cannot do so, either meet with your partner outside of class (example: homeroom tomorrow), or have one partner finish it at home.
Checklist for Task 2
______ Student has actively participated in the creation of
original poster advertising the upcoming play.
______ Student has written an adequate description of how the _______
poster informs its viewer of the production
______ Student has adequately proven he/she brought the audience
into consideration when deciding how to create poster.
______ Student has added one symbol in the visual art form from _______
the text to add to the poster.
Products/Evidence of Learning:
-Students will participate in the putting together of the different scenes into one play.
-Students will have practiced and participated in the performance of the play.
Students will bring their specific scenes to the whole group to be put together. Students will practice their lines for the play. Students will perform the play.
The teacher will bring the whole group together and will read the different scenes
out loud. You will decide how to put the scenes together and will discuss what stays in and what can be thrown out. You will then edit the work and make final decisions about the play. You will then sign up for different parts to play and can begin memorizing lines. Everything will be put together and performed on the given night.
Checklist for Task 3
______ Student has adequately participated in the putting
of the scenes.
______ Student has adequately participated in the editing of
______ Student has sufficiently memorized his/her lines for
performance of the play.
______ Student has adequately performed during the play. ______
Rubric for Performance Package
Percentage of your grade Task
25% Re-writing of chapters into scene
5% Revision of scene
25% Completion of poster to specifications
10% Participation and how well you worked with group
5% Being prepared for class
30% Completion of all items on checklist