Flowers for Algernon Unit

For students of any age up to graduate grade.

Day 1

Aim: How does knowledge affect our lives?

Do now: Why is it important to have knowledge?  Explain.  Be as specific as possible. 

Activity:
1. Call on three random students to read “Do now” responses.  Students will most likely say that knowledge is good.  Knowledge leads us to be able to do things we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do.  

2. Arrange students for “speed-sharing”:  each student will be facing another student, and the students on the inside will rotate to another partner when asked.  Ask questions, and students will take two minutes to talk to their partner (while taking notes on discussion).  Discuss as a class, calling on random groups to share their responses.  Students will then move on to the next person to discuss the next answer.
	-How can knowledge be harmful?
	-How can knowledge lead to more knowledge?
	-How can knowledge lead to more questions? 

3. Explain to students that there are three types of knowledge: what we know, what we realize we don’t know, and what we don’t realize we don’t know.  Create a chart on the board to illustrate these categories.
	-What is something you do not know?
	-What is something you know that others might not realize?

4. Explain that our next book, Flowers for Algernon, will explore this idea of knowledge.  In it, an experiment will be done to make a mentally challenged person smart.  Working with a partner, each student will answer the following questions:
	Critical Thinking:
	-What might be the effects (positive and negative) of somebody gaining knowledge?
	-What might be the effects of somebody losing knowledge?
-How might an interaction between two people on the same intellectual level differ from one between people on different intellectual levels?

5. Share-out: Call on random students to share responses.
	-Why do you feel this way?
	-What other effects might occur?

Students will copy the following homework question:
-Based on our conversations today, if you had the chance, would you increase your intellectual capacity?  Why or why not?

Summary: Answer “Aim” in notebook.  Call on two random students to share responses.

HW: “Knowledge” question above
Day 2

Aim: How does Flowers for Algernon begin?

Do now: In a paragraph, describe your personality.

Activity:
1. Call on random students to share “Do now” responses.
	-Why do you feel this way?
	-What other aspects of this person’s personality can be described?

2. Provide students with Rorschach test slides.  Without explaining to students the purpose, explain that students will see a variety of slides, and they should write what they see on the slide.

3. Provide students with information as to how the Rorschach is interpreted.  Examples: card two can explain how the subject views harm.  Card seven can explain how the subject views female figures in his/her life.  Ask students to compare these interpretations with their “Do now” responses.
	-How accurate did you find these responses?
	-How can somebody more accurately study personality?
	-If these tests do not show one’s personality, what do they show?

4. Explain to students that the main character of Flowers for Algernon, Charlie, will take an inkblot test at the beginning of the story.  Distribute books.

5. Begin reading as a class.  Call on random students to begin reading, stopping frequently to ask students for their observations.  Possible questions:
		-What do you notice about the style?
	-What does Charlie understand about what is happening to him?
	-What does Charlie not understand?
	-How does Charlie react to the inkblot test?  Why?
	-What other observations can you make about Charlie?

6. Ask students to make predictions:
	Critical Thinking:
	-How will Charlie react after the surgery?
	-How will others react to Charlie?

7. Share-out:  Call on random students to share predictions.
	-Why do you feel this way?
	-What makes you think this will happen?

Summary: Answer “Aim” aloud.

HW: Read up to p33 by Friday.  Write ½ page personal response to the section.

 
Day 3

Aim: How do people develop psychologically?

Do now: What should a six year old be able to do?  What should a six year old not be able to do?  Explain.

Activity:
1. Call on random students to share “Do now” responses.
	-Why should a child be able to do this?
	-Why shouldn’t a child be able to do this?
	-Who might study this aspect of psychology?

2. Review Tuesday’s work on background information related to psychology:
	-What is psychology?  What do psychologists study?
	-Who was Freud?  What did he believe?
	-Who was Pavlov?  What was his research?
	-What do personality psychologists study?
	-What do abnormal psychologists study?
	-What do evolutionary psychologists study?
	-What would social psychologists study?

3. Return to “Do now” question, and explain that developmental psychologists have studied what people are expected to be able to do at certain stages of life.  Provide students with a handout on Piaget’s Stages of Development: the sensorimotor stage, preoperational stage, concrete operations, formal operations. Call on random students to read.

4. Break students into groups.  Each group will be responsible for answering the following question about each developmental stage:
	Critical Thinking:
-What is something somebody entering this stage would be able to do that they would not be able to do in a previous stage?
Students will also answer the following question, in which they relate today’s material for Flowers for Algernon:
	-In what stage is Charlie?  Explain, referring to a specific example from the text.

5. Share-out: Call on random groups to share responses.
	-What would a child be able to do in the concrete operations stage?  Why?
	-Why is Charlie in the stage your group decided?

Summary: Answer “Aim” aloud.

HW: Read up to p.33 of Flowers for Algernon
Short story and all process work due tomorrow

 
Day 4

Aim: How can we explain Charlie’s understanding after the first sections of Flowers for Algernon?

Do now: In a paragraph, describe your reaction so far to Flowers for Algernon.

Activity:
1. Call on random students to share “Do now” responses.
	-Why do you feel this way?
	-How do you feel about the format?
	-What do you predict will happen?

2. Remind students that yesterday, we discussed Piaget’s theories of development, and after reading, students should have noticed what Charlie is able to understand, and what he is not able to understand.  Explain that we will read various passages, and then break into groups and make judgments about Charlie’s understanding.  Call on random students to read the following passages:
	-p7: Charlie meets Algernon
	-p15 Why Charlie wants to be smart
	-p17 Charlie finds out he will have to work to become smart
After each passage, ask students to their observations about Charlie’s understanding of each topic.
	-Is Charlie’s understanding accurate?

3. Explain to students that they will create a chart in which they comment on Charlie’s understanding.  For example, on page 9, Charlie says, “I felt good when he said not everybody with an eye-Q of 68 had [motor-vation]. 
	Critical Thinking:
-What do you notice about Charlie’s understanding?  Example: Charlie recognizes praise, but he does not know why he is being praised.  
Students will work in pairs to create a chart with four quotations and four comments on Charlie’s understanding.

4. Share-out: Call on random students to share observations.
	-What is Charlie’s understanding of this situation?
	-How else can this quotation be explained?
	-How might Charlie’s understanding change after he becomes more intelligent?

Summary: Answer “Aim” aloud.

HW: Read up to p.70.  Write ½ page personal response to this section.
 
Day 5

Aim: How does Charlie become more intelligent?

Reading Quiz:
1. How does Charlie get a promotion at the bakery?
2. How does Charlie write immediately after he learns what a comma is?
3. Describe one of Charlie’s memories.
4. What happens when Charlie takes the inkblot test for a second time?
5. Why do Nemur and Strauss argue?

Do now: What do you think is important to learn in school?  What is not important to learn?  Explain.

Activity:
1. Call on random students to share “Do now” responses.
	-Why is that topic important?  Why is that topic not important?
	-Why are others not important?
	-Why do people go to school?  What would happen if we didn’t?

2. Explain that we will be spending today’s class on two tasks: first, we will begin to identify what Charlie now understands, and second, we will learn comma rules, just as Charlie does.  Call on random students to begin reading the section in which Charlie learns about commas, on page 38.
	-How does Charlie realize he needs to use punctuation?
-How does Charlie realize he is using commas incorrectly? 

3. Students will work in groups and create a table in which they do what we did as a class: make an observation about what Charlie learns, and explain how Charlie learned it.
	-Why is this important?

4. Call on random students to share responses.
	-What are possible results of Charlie learning this lesson?

5. Explain to students that we have previously discussed the purpose of grammar and punctuation.  
	Critical Thinking:
	-Why is punctuation important?
Provide students with comma splice handout.  Call on random students to read.
	-What is a comma splice?
	-How can these sentences be corrected?
Students will complete handout by correcting comma splices.

6. Share-out: Call on random students to share answers.
	-How else can this sentence be corrected?

Summary: Answer “Aim” aloud.

HW: Comma rules handout.
 
Day 6

Aim: How does the theory of multiple intelligences apply to Flowers for Algernon?

Do now: What do you learn easily?  What do you have a difficult time learning?  Explain.  

Reading Quiz:
1. What happens when Charlie returns to the Center for Retarded Adults?
2. What does Charlie notice happening with Gimpy at the bakery?
3. What does Charlie do in response?
4. What happens when Charlie visits experts in their fields?
5. Why does Charlie get fired from his job?

Activity:
1. Call on random students to share “Do now” responses.
	-Why do you have a hard time learning this?
	-Why is this easy for you?

2. Provide students with the following statements.  For each, students will write “Yes” or “No.”
	-I am able to imagine in my mind color combinations that look good and those that do not.
	-Learning languages comes easily to me.
	-Math comes easily to me.
	-I learn well when I am doing something, rather than sitting still.
	-I am able to sing in tune.
	-People often come talk to me when they have problems.
	-I am good at understanding my feelings.
	-If I had to survive outside, I would.
	-I often think of answers that others do not think of.

3. Provide students with the following types of intelligence: spatial, linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, existential.
	Critical Thinking
	-What intelligences do you have?  How does this affect your life?
	-How would you characterize Charlie’s intelligence?

4. Explain to students that they will work to identify the different types of intelligences Charlie displays in Flowers for Algernon.  
	-What type of intelligence is displayed when Charlie uses the mixer?
Students will work in groups to create a chart with two columns: what Charlie does, and type of intelligence.  Students will find three to five examples of intelligence, as time allows.

5. Share-out: Call on random groups to share observations.
	-How else can this intelligence be characterized?

Summary: Answer “Aim” aloud.

HW: Read up to p.154 by Friday
 
Day 7

Aim: What does Flowers for Algernon teach us about the idea of progress?

Do now: Could the experiment have been performed on Charlie without its negative effects (people resenting him, etc.)?  Why or why not?

Activity:
1. Call on random students to share “Do now” responses.
	-Why do you feel this way?
	-How could the experiment have been done without negative effects?
	-What might have happened if Charlie reached normal intelligence?

2. Direct students toward the idea that too much of a good “thing” is bad.
	-How can too much ice cream be bad?
	-How can too much beauty be bad?
Students will break into groups, and brainstorm ideas:
	-Is there anything you can think of that is not harmful in excess?
Call on random groups to share responses.
	-How can this idea be refuted?

3. Students will return to their groups to discuss the results of progress.
	-What progress did scientists make with Charlie?  How were the results harmful?
Each group will be responsible for brainstorming a list of three ideas that we normally consider progress.  Each group will create a chart in which they list positive characteristics, negative results, and catastrophic results.
	Critical Thinking:
	-How is this idea positive?
	-How can this idea be negative?
	-How can this idea be catastrophic to society?

4. Share-out: Call on random groups to share responses.  Examples: cars allow us to travel anywhere we want in a short period of time.  Negative results: traffic.  Catastrophic results: all fuel is used up, and none exists for future generations.
	-How else can this idea be interpreted as progress?
	-How else can this progress have negative results?

Summary: Answer “Aim” aloud.

HW: Do you think the researchers in Flowers for Algernon considered the results before performing the experiment on Charlie?  Explain in a paragraph.

-Read up to p253 in Flowers for Algernon by Monday.


Day 8

Aim: What does Flowers for Algernon teach us about happiness?

Do now: Do you consider yourself to be a happy person?  Explain.

Activity:
1. Call on random students to share some or all of “Do now” responses.
	-Why do you feel this way?
	-How can this change?

2. Ask students:
-Is Charlie happy in the novel?
	-How does Charlie’s happiness change as he gains knowledge?
Call on random students to read the following passages: Charlie returns to the bakery (p21, 23), and Charlie is fired from the bakery (p107-108).

3. Explain to students that we will be investigating what makes us happy and what makes us unhappy.  On small sheets of paper, students will list something that makes them happy, and something that makes them unhappy.  Students will make a “happiness” pile and an “unhappiness” pile.

4. Explain to students that we will be looking for common themes in the happiness.  After both piles have been read, students will create a list of themes they have noticed.
	Critical Thinking:
	-What similarities do you notice?
	-What differences do you notice?

5. In pairs, students will seek to create a list of five elements of happiness.

6. Share-out: Call on random students to share responses.
	-What else can make people happy?  
Provide students with Jung’s five elements of happiness:
1. Good physical and mental health.
2. Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.
3. The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.
4. Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.
5. A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.

7. If time permits, students will pick three elements and explain whether they agree or disagree with Jung’s elements, and why.

Summary: What new ideas do you have relating to happiness?

HW: Read Flowers for Algernon up to p. 253.  1 page personal response.