The Open Window Writing Assignments

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-LIT0210
Submitted by: Steven M. Yanni
Email: stevenyanni@yahoo.com
School/University/Affiliation: University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, PA
Endorsed by: Dr. Jean James
             University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
Date: November 27, 2002


Grade Level: 7, 8, 9

Subject(s):

  • Language Arts/Literature
  • Language Arts/Story telling

Duration: 2 class sessions

Description: This lesson plan deals with the story, The Open Window by Saki (H.H. Munro). Although this is a perfect Halloween-time story, this story introduces students to the surprise twist present in so many stories today. This story also lends itself perfectly to many literary terms and devices. The lesson will involve storytelling, listening, reading, writing, discussion, and group activities.

Goals: Pennsylvania State Standards (Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening) :

  • 1.1.8 (G) – Demonstrate after reading understanding and interpretation of both fiction and nonfiction text, including public documents. Make, and support with evidence, assertions about texts. Compare and contrast texts using themes, settings, characters, and ideas.
  • 1.3.8 (A) – Read and understand works of literature.
  • 1.3.8 (B) – Analyze the use of literary elements by an author including characterization, setting, plot, theme, point of view, tone and style.
  • 1.6.8 (A) – Listen to others. Ask probing questions, analyze information, ideas and opinions to determine relevancy. Take notes when needed.
  • 1.6.8 (B) – Listen to selections of literature (fiction and/or nonfiction). Relate them to previous knowledge. Predict content/events. Summarize events and identity the significant points. Identify and define new words and concepts. Analyze the selections.

Objectives:

  • Students will explain the motives and behaviors of the two main characters, Framton Nuttel and Vera, including how they feel about each character.
  • Students will retell in summary form, The Open Window.
  • Students will identify the protagonist, the antagonist, irony, foreshadowing, and the conflict in, The Open Window.
  • Students will define the following vocabulary words: snipe, pariah, rectory, moor, bog, falter, infirmities, imminent.
  • Materials:

    • copies of The Open Window by Saki
    • Study Guide
    • Quiz
    • Study Guide and Quiz in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

      Click the icon to obtain the free Reader.

    Vocabulary:

  • snipe – a type of wading bird
  • pariah – member of lowest class in India; a social outcast
  • rectory – a home occupied by a minister or clergy
  • moor – a broad area of open land, often high but poorly drained, with patches of heath and peat bogs
  • bog – soft, waterlogged ground; a marsh
  • falter – to be unsteady in purpose or action, as from loss of courage or confidence; waver
  • infirmities – frailties; disabilities
  • imminent – about to occur; impending
  • Procedure:

    [ Summary of Story: H.H. Munro’s (Saki) The Open Window brilliantly portrays how one’s nerves affects his/her personality. As Framton embarks on a trip intended as a nerve cure, he finds himself in an unfamiliar situation that ultimately has a negative effect on his seemingly nervous personality. The story allows students and teachers a glimpse at the reality of two characters, and, ultimately, the reader will side with one of the characters in the story. This is a perfect story for a rainy day or during the fall season!] Orienting and Initiating Activities:
    Storytelling will be used to introduce the story, to heighten interest, and to translate the story for the students. The teacher greets the class and explains how he once heard of a teacher who had been feeling stressed because of all the tests, essays, and classes involved with school. He also mentioned different activities such as committee meetings, family obligations, and clubs that added to the pressure. The teacher indicated that he understands the pressures and stresses that the students must feel because of similar obligations and assignments. The teacher describes an incident that occurred to him several years ago during the fall months, October to be precise. That was a time of high stress and high anxiety because of school and personal demands. Apparently, he must have been looking rather frazzled because his sister, who is also a teacher, suggested that he take a few days off, and rest at an inn in the countryside where there was no telephone, television, or email. The teacher agrees but states that he knows of no such place; his sister indicated that she did and would give him a letter of introduction stating his nervous condition and the need for peace and quiet. The teacher objected stating that he did not want strangers to know of his state. His sister stated that he should use an assumed name, a pseudonym. She suggested Framton Nuttel. The teacher reluctantly agreed.

    Main Activities:
    The teacher continues to describe the nervous condition and describes the teacher’s journey in the countryside, and in the process tells the tale of The Open Window as if it were an actual event. The teacher states that he has a written report from his sister and that after reading it, he is unsure of exactly what transpired at the time of the visit. He asks the class to read this report (The Open Window) with the following guide questions in mind. Some of the questions that Framton may ask himself: Did I actually see some ghosts? If not, what did I see and what has transpired?

    Closing:
    After the story is read and any preliminary questions are answered, the teacher should distribute the study guide and discuss the answers with the students.

    Summarizing Activities:
    Explain that Saki’s short stories are famous for their surprise or unusual plot developments.

    Assessment: Collect students’ study guide responses. Administer the quiz during another class time. The lesson will be deemed successful if the students respond successfully to the discussion questions and the students expressed enthusiasm for the storytelling strategy.

    Useful Internet Resources:
    * Saki (1870-1916) – Pseudonym of Hector Hugh Munro
    http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/saki.htm

    * Pennsylvania State Standards
    http://www.pastatestandards.org/

    The topic sentence will depend on the angle or theme you are working with. For example, consider the notion of sanity. Framton Nuttel ("nuts" - crazy) was trying to cure his nerves with a trip to the country. Is he really crazy or is he simply a hypochondriac? And if his nervous condition is of his own doing, is Vera's behavior more "insane" because she purposely manipulates other people with her lies? This type of thematic analysis might use a topic sentence as such: "In this story, Saki shows that there is a fine line between sanity and lying." 

    Or, you could focus on the "fine line" between lying and storytelling. Is Vera's lying really evil or is it a harmless prank? Note that this is a short story of fiction. Vera is doing what Saki is doing: making things up. Vera's story doesn't truly threaten anyone. Framton's nervousness puts him in a position to be scared by the story. If what Vera does is so bad, then can or should we hold all writers accountable for their made up stories? This seems to be an untenable argument, but it is interesting to consider the differences and similarities between fiction and lies. This would suggest a topic sentence(s) such as: "Saki makes things up. Vera makes things up. Is the reader correct in denouncing Vera and celebrating Saki's imagination?" 

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