School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 8

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Advanced/Gifted and Talented: An advanced/gifted and talented tool is an idea for a complex, multi-step instructional task that requires students to apply knowledge and skills of multiple objectives that support one indicator. Tasks require students to interpret, analyze, and evaluate text at an appropriate level of complexity and embed a variety of differentiation strategies to challenge advanced readers. Many of these strategies and activities can be adapted for use with all students.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 3. Analyze and evaluate elements of narrative texts to facilitate understanding and interpretation

Objective g. Analyze internal and/or external conflicts that motivate characters and those that advance the plot

Other Objectives Addressed

d.Analyze characterization

Instructional Task

Students will analyze and evaluate characterization using a framework for discussion of moral dilemmas to facilitate understanding and interpretation. Students will create storyboard presentations suggesting plausible conflicts that would further develop a character’s moral reasoning.

Development of Task

  1. Before reading, the teacher will select literary text at an appropriate level of complexity in which characters face moral dilemmas, such as Michael Schaara’s The Killer Angels, Conrad Richter’s The Light in the Forest, Bette Green’s The Summer of My German Soldier, or short stories such as Shirley Jackson’s “Charles,” “The Lottery,” or Doris Lessing’s “A Sunrise on the Veld.”
  2. The teacher will introduce the term moral dilemma with the essential question, “How do you decide what to do when there are two courses of action that seem right?” For example, in The Killer Angels by Michael Schaara, Robert E. Lee reflects on how he had taken an oath to protect the North when he was in the Union army, and then has to decide whether it is right to break his oath and attack the Union in the battle of Gettysburg when he has taken an oath of loyalty to the Confederate army.
  3. The teacher will introduce the Kohlberg’s framework for moral reasoning, a developmental hierarchy of motivations for human behavior, using the chart below:

    Kohlberg’s Levels of Moral Reasoning
    Level I: Pre-Conventional (Most Children)
    Focus Motivation Reasoning
    Stage 1 Self
    (physical needs)
    Avoid punishment I won’t do that so I won’t get a “time out.”
    Stage 2 Self
    Satisfy needs
    “fair share”
    If I do that I will get a candy. If “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
    Level II: Conventional (Most Adults)
    Focus Motivation Reasoning
    Stage 3 Others
    Earn approval I will do what makes me look good. I want to be seen as nice.
    Stage 4 Others
    (society and authority)
    Do your duty
    Obey authority
    I will follow the rules because it maintains order.
    Level III. Post-Conventional, Principled (Minority of Adults)
    Stage 5 Law
    Maintain individual rights agreed upon by society We must develop laws that maintain social welfare (The American Constitution)
    Stage 6 Principles of conscience
    Maintain personal integrity consistent with principles of justice, equality, etc. I must disregard the law if it is inconsistent with my principles (Martin Luther King, Jr.).
  4. During reading, students will use Kohlberg’s framework for moral reasoning to analyze and evaluate a character’s motivations (analysis). The students will trace the development of characterization over the course of the narrative (objective d).
  5. Students will analyze the character’s speech, thoughts, and behavior related to conflict to evaluate the level of moral reasoning. Students may have different evaluations depending on their analyses of the evidence.
  6. After reading, students can determine what other choices the character could have made if operating on a different level of moral reasoning and discuss how these changes in characterization would affect the plot (objective a).
  7. Based on their evaluations of the character’s level of moral reasoning in the text, the students will create a plausible conflict that would motivate the character to a higher level of moral reasoning (synthesis).
  8. The students will create a storyboard depicting the new conflict to an editorial board of their peers in order to convince the board to add the conflict to the novel (visual learning style). In their presentations, students will analyze characterization over the course of the narrative in order to explain how the new conflict would motivate the character to reason and act on a higher level.
Resources for Objective 3.A.3.g:
Lesson Seeds | Public Release Items | ADVANCED/G-T |