Wednesday Wars Novel Unit

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Wednesday Wars is a comical, insightful look into the life of Holling
Hoodhood, a 7th grade boy growing up in the 1967. This book is rich with themes of
coming of age, bullying, relationships, honesty, diligence, Shakespeare, and
numerous historical connections. As this book takes you on a journey from
September to June, Holling shares his escapades with the readers at some points
in a conversational style addressing the reader directly. Hollings says, “Love and
Hate in Seventh Grade are not far apart, let me tell you.” From rats and cream
puffs to the Beatle’s “Eleanor Rigsby” to Shakespearean plays and curses to
camping trips, this novel explores many facets of everyday life that provides
insights into everyday life during 1967-1968.
Holling is the only Presbyterian student in his class. On Wednesday
afternoons, the Catholic students go to Catechism and the Jewish students go to
Hebrew school. This leaves Holling with Mrs. Baker, his English teacher, who he
thinks clearly hates his guts. Overtime their relationship develops through her
Shakespearean reading assignments, and she proves his initial perception wrong.
Helping him understand what it means to be human and providing him the support
he lacks at home. Mrs. Baker becomes a key figure in Holling’s life.
Holling’s relationship at home with his family is less than perfect although
they live in the “Perfect House.” His father, an architect, plays dirty and often
doesn’t take time to get to know his son. Mr. Hoodhood is superficial and simply
cares about appearances. His mother, a secret chain smoker, seems aloof and
uncaring. Holling’s sister ends up running away to California as a result of the
neglectful environment at home.
Historically, this novel is rich with the Vietnam War on the home front as
the students participate in bombing drills as well as with tons of references to LBJ
and Martin Luther King, Jr. There is even a run in with Mickey Mantle that goes
bad. Mrs. Baker’s husband is off fighting. Mrs. Sidman, another school employee’s
husband was killed in the war. But then there is Mai Thi, an orphaned Vietnamese
girl, who is ridiculed by Mrs. Bigio. Mrs. Bigio recognizes the cruelty of her
behavior and makes it up to Mai Thi at the end.
There are so many events, themes, and lessons learned in Schimdt’s novel
that it is almost impossible to recount them all and providing them the full
educational scope in a brief summary. This novel would an incredible additional to
7th grade curriculum. Not only is it overloaded with great content for discussion,
but also tons of elements of writer’s craft to address such as the use of run-on
sentences and similes. For instance when Holling is sharing with the reader how
Mrs. Baker discuss there Wednesday afternoons together he describes it as…
“That’s when I knew she hated me. The look that came over her face like the
sun winked out and was not going to shine again to next June.
And that’s probably the same look that came over my face, since I felt the
way you feel just before you throw up-cold and sweaty at the same time, and your
stomach’s doing things that stomachs aren’t supposed to do, and you’re wishingyou’re really wishing-that the ham and cheese and broccoli omelet that your
mother made you for the first day of school had been Cheerios, like you really
wanted, because they com up a whole lot easier, and not yellow.”
Schimdt’s carefully thought out descriptions and vocabulary provides an interesting
rendezvous for 7th grade students to learn from and explore. So not only will
students learn invaluable life lessons, but the content provides excellent elements
for discussions of characterization, conflicts, and story plot. The other fascinating
element about Wednesday Wars is the attitude that most 7th grade students can
relate to in Schimdt’s conversational writing style. It is unique in its approach.
Also, the time period is not so far off that it is seems foreign, but the
elements of school and recognizable pop culture also makes it seem more relevant
to students of this day and age. This novel has it all. I loved and genuinely enjoyed
reading it and most kids I think would, too. It’s a novel a student will enjoy reading.
UNIT PLANS-Overview
BEFORE READING Ideas
1) Use wordle of Wednesday Wars to have students consider and predict
how the elements may fit together. A wordle is a web 2.0 site that you
can use to make creative designs with key words. In this wordle there is a
focus on key nouns!
2) Use an anticipation guide to provide some insight into the topics that we
will cover as we discuss this novel. As you get students to use the
anticipation guide begin discussion of ethics, responsibility, and
generalizations
3) Create a Mystery box including-a running shoe, a cream puff, a fake rat, a
book of Shakespeare, a picture of Vietnam, telegram, picture of Long
Island, Picture of Mickey Mantle, yellow tights, “pied ninny”-written on a
piece of paper, Newspaper rolled up
Have students predict how these things may be connected.
4) Have students look through books about the 1960s and play Beatles
music. Also checkout the site about a timeline of the 1960s.
http://www.kyrene.k12.az.us/schools/brisas/sunda/decade/1960.htm
http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1960s.html
Have students take notes about what they learned about the time period
to gain insight into Holling’s life before they start reading
During Reading
1)
Have students keep up with their Character Key and add
information as they read.
2)
Have students’ list unfamiliar or interesting vocabulary words as
they come across them at least 2 each chapter. Define them and
discuss to create a word wall.
Reading Plan
WEEK 1
September pg. 1-22-In this first chapter, Schmidt uses tons of sensory language
to introduce to Holling and his life to you. Holling is convinced that Mrs. Baker is
plotting against him. Why does he think that? As we read, lean and infer why she
might dislike him? How do you know? Have you ever been justly or injustly disliked
by one of your teachers? What do you predict this year will be like for Holling?
* Classroom connection-After reading September-(Visualizing and Lean in
strategy pg. 39 & 42 Notebook Connections)-Read aloud pg. 5-9- In this
section they describe “The perfect house” Is it perfect? Have students
draw a picture of how it appears on one side of a piece of paper and then
on the other side draw or describe the reality of it for Holling. Discuss
what can be inferred about Holling’s feelings towards his father
especially.
October pg. 23-48-Sometimes we make mistakes that we may not want to admit to
others. In this chapter, Holling makes a mistake that humiliates Mrs. Baker. Write
an I poem either as Mrs. Baker or Holling reflecting on the events that occur in
this chapter. Be sure to use sensory language. You may also want to use quotes
from the chapter
* Classroom connection-In this chapter, Mrs. Baker introduces Holling to
Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Have students listen to a portion
of the play that they read aloud together and hear a bit of the language.
http://librivox.org/tales-from-shakespeare-by-charles-and-mary-lamb/
Have them discuss the language from the book and how it invades
Holling’s dream that night. Discuss pg. 48, Holling’s recognition that
Shylock doesn’t want to be a villain and just wants to become who he is
supposed to be. Why is it important that the play is called a tragedy and
that Skylock is trapped? How is that like Holling may feel?
* Also discuss Mrs. Baker’s nefarious (evil, wicked) plot. What was it? Did
it work?
November pg. 49-72 -A TABLEAU-In this chapter lots of events occur that are
valuable to the story. Make a list of the characters in one scene and try to
describe how their body language may look. You may want to use props. List what
you will need and how the characters will look and act. You will be a still moment
shot of the scene frozen in time. Be ready to enlist a frozen cast to help you share
your scene. Also make a list of a couple clues to suggest in case we can’t guess
which scene it is.
-REFLECTION-Describe what happens with the cream puffs and Sycorax and
Caliban? Holling is extremely frustrated, and he worked really hard to appease his
demanding classmates. How would you feel if you were Holling? Using Holling’s
language, write a brief journal entry as Holling Hoodhood responding to this
situation.
*
Classroom connection-Watch an animated version of The Tempest in
class. http://www.squidoo.com/shakespeare-animated-tales At the end
discuss how Holling uses elements from this play to compare with his on
life during that time. The final line of the chapter discusses the happy
endings and how Shakespeare was wrong that sometimes there isn’t a
Prospero to make everything fine again. How does Holling’s life mirror the
play?
WEEK 2
December pg. 73-100- Poems for Two Voices OR A CONCRETE POEM-Write a
poem from two different perspectives in this chapter using the examples we’ve
discussed in Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman or create a
concrete poem using the examples we’ve discussed in Technically It’s Not My Fault
or Blue Lipstick by John Grandits based on the event from this chapter.
* Classroom Connection-Discuss the passage at the top of pg. 93 and how
Mickey Mantle treated Holling. Interpret it as a class. Discuss how
athletes can seemingly be heroes but like humans are flawed even though
they seem larger than life. How is he astounded by Danny’s display of
friendship? Has a friend ever stood up for you? How?-Respond in reading
packet.
January pg. 101-129
FAB FIVE AND STICKY NOTES
Use sticky notes and think marks to highlight key events, unfamiliar words, or just
your thoughts as you read this section. We will go through them together as group
in class. As you go back through this have students make piles of what was
confusing or what happened or just thoughts. Tell them about using this tool to
help you organize big chapter books and to focus you as you read. Also make list of
five sentences related to what happens or descriptions of what you have read. This
could answer: Who? What? When? Where? Why?-When they have completed this
you will discuss how those FAB Five can translate into summarization of a chapter
or book by narrowing down the important events.
REFLECTION/RESPONSE-Holling is horribly humiliated by the exposure by Doug
Swietecks brother throughout the school. Consider the conversation he has with
Mrs. Baker on pg. 109. What do you think she knows that he doesn’t know? Why?
Will he learn a lesson from this?
* Classroom connection-Have students in groups put together their sticky
notes and sort out and discuss their sticky notes. You may also want to
see how they have organized their piles.
*
*
Classroom connection-Have students to summarize the chapter together
using their FAB FIVE Sentences.
Creative Connection-HAVE STUDENTS CREATE A PICTURE
VISUALIZING THE HEADLINE AND THE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE
ABOUT HOLLING’S DEBUT.
February pg. 130-155
LETTER-Holling’s date with Meryl Lee becomes tainted with his father’s architect
battler with Meryl Lee’s father. Write a letter to Mr. Hoodhood, Mrs. Baker, or
Meryl Lee as if you are Holling. Explain how you feel and why.
* Classroom connection-Have the students watch the animated version of
Romeo and Juliet. Create a story map paralleling Romeo and Juliet and what
happens between Holling and Meryl Lee.
http://www.squidoo.com/shakespeare-animated-tales
WEEK 3
March pg. 156-183
SKETCH an Image-Draw a picture to capture one image from this chapter that is
significant or caught your attention. Be ready to share with the class and explain
why you chose to draw.
* Classroom Connection-Discuss what happens between the rats and Holling.
How does that impact him?
* Also discuss what has changed between Mrs. Bigio and Mai Thi. Why is that
important?
April pg. 184- 208 LISTING-Make a list of two different conversations that occur
within this section and the characters within each conversation list emotions and
draw pictures that relate to the events that are occurring
* Classroom connection-Have students in their groups write a brief reader’s
theatre from this section to prepare and share with the class. Make sure
each group takes a different part. Discuss emotions and tone changes with
voices. Students will add more depth to the brief explanation of
conversations by adding more speech.
May pg. 209-237- Holling’s sister has run away. Write a free verse poem from
either Holling, his sister, or Mr. Hoodhood’s point of view. Get inside the head of
your character and explain how they feel. Be creative.
*
Classroom Connector-Play the Beatles “Eleanor Rigsby”-look at the lyrics and
discuss and they may relate to Holling’s sister. Discuss why people run away?
Also reflect on how this relates to the “perfect house.” How is Holling’s
sister trying to rebel against the expectations of her father? What does
she want after graduation? Do you think Holling and his sister’s relationship
will change after this? Why?
June pg. 237-263
REFLECTION-How has Mrs. Baker and Holling’s relationship changed throughout
the course of novel? Discuss why she uses the word “chrysanthemum?” How can one
teacher impact a student’s life? What teacher has most influenced you? How?
Why?
* Classroom Connection-Take the students on a hike and discuss preparation
and the novel on the way up to the top. This would be a great time to reflect
on the story and what they have learned.
AFTER READING Projects/Activities
1) Create a photostory in a group to demonstrate how Holling changes
throughout the course of the book. Using Tableau and other resources
to find relevant pictures describe the key events that impact him
throughout this book.
2) In our analysis of various characters we have discussed various character
traits. Write a paragraph about a character in this book. Describe how
they have changed. Input your paragraph in wordle.com, and create a
graphic design of key words or elements of this character as your visual.
Also create a tableau with friends depicting an important event in this
character’s life.
3) Create a reader’s theatre based upon one theme of this book. With your
group members perform your reader’s theatre with props to share with
the class. You may want to show interaction between Mrs. Baker and
Holling overtime or elements of conflict.
Unit Objectives
SWBAT recognize and identify indirect and direct characterization through
poetry, tableaus, and reader’s theatre.
SWBAT recognize and utilize various techniques of writer’s craft to improve their
own writing.
SWBAT synthesize content to create poems, reader’s theatre, and photostorys.
SWBAT describe the basic events of the late 1960s and share how those events
impacted society.
SWBAT reflect upon events that occur in the novel and describe how characters
change.
SWBAT discuss and confer about various ethical conflicts within the novel.
SWBAT have a stronger understanding of significance of Shakespeare’s plays and
connect elements of the story with those plays.
SWBAT analyze and relate relationships in their own life to those of Holling and
the characters through reflections.
Name______________________________
Reading Assignments and Activities
WEDNESDAY WARS Pre-Reading
As we analyze various aspects of culture and history of the 1960s take notes about
key events from our classroom exploration.
What are key events during this time?
How do you think those events would have affected the people living during that
time?
Briefly, interview a neighbor, friend, or relative that lived during the late 1960s
and ask them what it was like living during that time. Write down the person’s name
and how you know them. Take some notes below.
Anticipation Guide for The Wednesday Wars
Directions in the space, provided by each statement, write an “A” if you agree with
the statement, and a “D” if you disagree with the statement. Be able to defend
your position!
Agree/Disagree
If a lot of people want you to do something, you should do it.
_______
In order to not make others feel bad, it’s okay to limit
your accomplishments.
_______
In order to succeed you have to do whatever it takes.
_______
All is fair in love and war.
_______
You should be willing to do anything for your family.
_______
Having a nice house and nice things makes you happy.
_______
If someone hurts you, it’s okay to be mean to them.
_______
First impressions are always right.
_______
Father always knows best.
_______
Celebrities are good role models.
_______
Old stories can’t relate to my life.
_______
Throughout the novel from September to June-CREATE A CHARACTER KEY!
As you read add details about characters as you find them out. You may want
to list personality traits, events, quotes, or draw pictures, etc. to help you
remember the various characters.
Holling Hoodhood
Mrs. Baker
Doug Swieteck’s brother
Mr. Hoodhood
Meryl Lee Kowalski
Syocrax and Caliban
Danny Hupfer
Mai Thi
Mrs. Bigio
September pg. 1-22
In this first chapter, Schmidt uses tons of sensory language to introduce to
Holling and his life to you. Holling is convinced that Mrs. Baker is plotting against
him. Why does he think that? As we read, lean in and infer why she might dislike
him? How do you know?
October pg. 23-48
Sometimes we make mistakes that we may not want to admit to others. In
this chapter, Holling makes a mistake that humiliates Mrs. Baker. Write an I poem
either as Mrs. Baker or Holling reflecting on the events that occur in this chapter.
Be sure to use sensory language. You may also want to use quotes from the chapter.
November pg. 49-72-A TABLEAU-In this chapter lots of events occur that are
valuable to the story. Make a list of the characters in one scene and try to
describe how their body language may look. You may want to use props. List what
you will need and how the characters will look and act. You will be a still moment
shot of the scene frozen in time. Be ready to enlist a frozen cast to help you share
your scene. Also make a list of clues to suggest in case we can’t guess which scene
it is.
Reflection-Describe what happens with the cream puffs and Sycorax and Caliban?
Holling is extremely frustrated, and he worked really hard to appease his
demanding classmates. How would you feel if you were Holling? Using Holling’s
language, write a brief journal entry as Holling Hoodhood responding to this
situation.
December pg. 73-100-Poems for Two Voices OR A CONCRETE POEM-Write a poem
from two different perspectives in this chapter using the examples we’ve
discussed in Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman or create a
concrete poem using the examples we’ve discussed in Technically It’s Not My Fault
or Blue Lipstick by John Grandits based on the event from this chapter.
Reflect about a time in your own life where a friend has stood up for you? Or even
someone who you didn’t think was a friend has surprised you?
January pg. 101-129-FAB FIVE AND STICKY NOTES
Use sticky notes and think marks to highlight key events, unfamiliar words, or just
your thoughts as you read this section. We will go through them together as group
in class. Also make list of five sentences related to what happens or descriptions
of what you have read. This could answer: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
Journal Reflection-Holling is horribly humiliated by the exposure by Doug
Swietecks brother throughout the school. Consider the conversation he has with
Mrs. Baker on pg. 109. What do you think she knows that he doesn’t know? Why?
Will he learn a lesson from this?
February pg. 130-155 Holling’s date with Meryl Lee becomes tainted with his
father’s architect battler with Meryl Lee’s father. Write a letter to Mr.
Hoodhood, Mrs. Baker, or Meryl Lee as if you are Holling. Explain how you feel and
why.
March pg. 156-183 SKETCH an Image-Draw a picture to capture one image from
this chapter that is significant or caught your attention. Be ready to share with
the class and explain why you chose to draw.
Conversations
April pg. 184- 208 LISTING-Make a list of two different conversations
that occur within this section and the characters within each conversation list
emotions and draw pictures that relate to the events that are occurring
May pg. 209- 237-Holling’s sister has run away. Write a free verse poem from
either Holling, his sister, or Mr. Hoodhood’s point of view. Get inside the head of
your character and explain how they feel. Be creative.
June pg. 238--263
REFLECTION-How has Mrs. Baker and Holling’s relationship changed throughout
the course of novel? Discuss why she uses the word “chrysanthemum?” How can one
teacher impact a student’s life? What teacher has most influenced you? How?
Why?
FINAL PROJECT OPTIONS
Create a photostory in a group to demonstrate how Holling changes throughout the
course of the book. Using Tableau and other resources to find or creative relevant
pictures describe the key events that impact him throughout this book.
In our analysis of various characters we have discussed various character traits.
Write a paragraph about at least 3-4 character in this book. Describe how they
have changed. Input your paragraph in wordle.com, and create a graphic design of
key words or elements of each character as your visual. Also create a tableau with
friends depicting an important event in each character’s life. Each group member
could split this up or work together
Create a reader’s theatre based upon one theme of this book. With your group
members perform your reader’s theatre with props to share with the class. You
may want to show interaction between Mrs. Baker and Holling overtime. Or you
might show how Shakespeare or historical events connect with the text.
Final Project Rubric
Product demonstrates connections, creativity, and thought (1-5)
_____/5
You worked will with group members (1-5)
_____/5
Product accurately relates to text and is appropriate (1-5)
_____/5
Final Product Completed and turned in on time (1-5)
_____/5
Total Points
_____/20
Pre-reading Activities
Wednesday Wars Unit Rubric
Notes on the 1960s/interview
_____/5
September
Response/Prediction for Holling
The Perfect House Picture
_____/5
_____/5
October
I-Poem
_____/5
November
Tableau
Reflection-Cream Puffs/Rats
_____/5
_____/5
December
Poem for 2 Voices or Concrete Poem
Reflection-friend who stand up for you
_____/5
_____/5
January
FabFive/Sticky Notes
Reflection-conversation with Mrs. Baker
_____/5
_____/5
February
Letter
_____/5
March
Sketch an Image
_____/5
April
Listing
Reader’s Theater
_____/5
_____/5
May
Free Verse Poem
_____/5
June
Reflection of Mrs. Baker and Holling
_____/5
Final Project
_____/20
Total points=_____/100
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