Stage 1: Desired Results

Established Goals:

WA Portrait of a Learner:
  • Is a dynamic learner, who engages in critical and creative thinking and uses a variety of problem solving skills.
  • Effectively uses appropriate, real-world tools as a part of the learning and thinking process.
  • Collaborates and works well as part of a team.
  • Sees relevance and connections in the classroom, the community, and the world.
  • Engages in effective and interactive communication, including a range of multimedia applications in addition to traditional writing and oral communication.

NCTE Standards:
  • Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Students will understand that...
  • We all have to make decisions about how much we connect to and take responsibility for others in society. We are social creatures, but we do not always agree with society around us. What happens when we find ourselves alienated from society or see ourselves as being different from some societal norm? Do we make changes or do we reject that aspect of society's norms and choose to be different? These are choices we must make.
  • To some measure, a degree of conformity is necessary to maintain order and safety. Some kinds of conformity, while not necessary, make life easier but perhaps less fulfilling. We must choose when and how to conform to society and face consequences for nonconformity.
  • The novel provides evidence for several potential psychiatric disorders, including depression, PTSD/anxiety, bipolar disorder, and possibly others. It's possible to examine Holden's statements and arrive at a conclusion based on evidence from the text.
Essential Questions:
  • What is an individual's relationship to and responsibility toward society?
  • How necessary is conformity to survival?
  • What's wrong with Holden Caulfield?
Students will know...
  • The plot, symbols, motifs, and themes of The Catcher in the Rye.
  • The psychological lens of literary analysis.
  • Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
  • Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief.
  • Vocabulary in context of reading.
  • Literary terms antihero, first person narration, symbolism, theme, unreliable narroator, allusion, hyperbole, tone, and irony.
Students will be able to...
  • Determine the meaning of the symbols of the hunting hat, the ducks in Central Park, the Catcher in the Rye.
  • Interpret and analyze The Catcher in the Rye through the psychological lens.
  • Apply Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to Holden Caulfield.
  • Determine what Holden's psychiatric needs are and what course of treatment might be successful for Holden.
  • Apply the literary terms antihero, first person narration, symbolism, theme, unreliable narrator, allusion, hyperbole, tone, and irony to examples from the text.
  • Understand vocabulary in context and apply it to their own writing.

Stage 2: Assessment Evidence

Performance Task:

What do you think is wrong with Holden? You are a member of the psychiatric team at Camarillo State Hospital in Camarillo, California. Holden Caulfield is one of your patients. You must determine the most likely cause for his mental breakdown in order to suggest a course of treatment that will help him. It's possible that Holden suffers from depression, but it's also possible that he suffers from bipolar disorder. A third likely scenario is that Holden is suffering from anxiety.

Examine the evidence and write a report in which you make a diagnosis and determine an appropriate course of treatment for Holden. If your diagnosis is correct, and your course of treatment is successful, Holden has a good chance to recover and return to school. On the other hand, an incorrect diagnosis may result in a treatment plan that will not work well for Holden, which will prevent him from recovering and successfully returning to school.
Other Evidence:
  • Chapter 27: Creative Writing
  • Reading quizzes
  • Vocabulary quizzes
  • Journal writing
  • Bookmark checks
  • Class discussions
  • Socratic seminars
  • Online discussions (carry over Socratic seminars)


Stage 3: Learning Plan

Learning Activities:

Day One: Controversy and Catcher (W, H, E)

Four Corners Activity: Post signs that say "Agree," "Agree Somewhat," "Disagree Somewhat," and "Disagree." Ask students to move to the corner of the room where the sign that describes how they feel about the following questions:
  1. Mistakes are necessary; therefore, we shouldn’t shelter children from the world.
  2. Experiences change based on our attitude and how we view them.
  3. You shouldn’t say anything unless you mean it.
  4. It’s better to be alone that to be with people that don’t do everything you like doing.
Follow up by asking students to explain why they feel they way they do.

History of Controversy: The Catcher in the Rye has a long history of controversy. Share the stories about how the novel is connected Mark David Chapman, John Hinckley, Jr., and Robert John Bardo. Also discuss its history as a challenged and banned book.

Introduce Reading Bookmarks: Students should use the reading bookmark to keep track of reading assignments, favorite quotations, vocabulary words in context, notes about characters, symbols, themes, motifs, and miscellania.

Begin Reading: Read chapters 1-2, remainder for homework. Tomorrow, students will have a bookmark check.

Day Two: "Life is a Game" (R, E2, T)

Bookmark Check/Journal: While I conduct a bookmark check, students will write in response to the following prompt: "Holden has keen powers of observation. What are some of the kinds of things he notices that not everyone else seems to notice? Why do you think he notices so much? What kinds of things do you notice that others don't typically notice? You may write your response in the form of a paragraph, poem, song, or drawing. Be prepared to share."

Share Journals: Students will share their journals.

Class Discussion: This document includes some questions to ask students about the novel and is used throughout the unit. [insert document]

Society's Expectations: Students should draw a chart in their notebooks with two rows and two columns on the first row and one column on the second row so there are three boxes. Label the top left column of row 1 "Heaviest Expectations." Label the top right column of row "Lightest Expectations." Label the bottom row "Interesting Observations." Write down the following list of words:
  • Money
  • Good job
  • Good grades
  • Family involvement
  • Chores
  • Love
  • Good friendships
  • Appearance
  • Responsible citizen
  • Respectful

Give students a few minutes to sort the words in the list into either the Heaviest Expectations or the Lightest Expectations column. Write down any interesting observations. Follow with a class discussion. How would Holden fill out the chart, based on what you've read so far?

Reading: Read chapters 3-6 for the next class. Begin in class if time allows.

Day 3: "I'm the Most Terrific Liar" (E, R, E2)

Reading Quiz

Class Discussion

Journal: Respond to this question in your journal and be prepared to share: Holden is critical of many things and often uses the word "phony" to express his criticism. What is he critical of? Find at least four examples/quotes and use them in your response.

Share Journals:
  • Share your journal with a partner/person next to you.
  • Tell the class something interesting your partner said.

Introduce Socratic Seminar: Students should be prepared to discuss these questions. [attach document]. Explain process for conducting a Socratic seminar.

Reading: Read chapters 7-8 for the next class and study for the vocabulary quiz.

Day 4: "Sleep Tight, Ya Morons!" (E, R, E2)

Vocab Quiz 1:
  1. ostracize (chapter 1)
  2. irony (chapter 2; as in "situational irony")
  3. qualms (chapter 2)
  4. falsetto (chapter 3)
  5. conceit (chapter 3)
  6. aggravate (chapter 3)
  7. monotonous (chapter 5)
  8. scrupulous (chapter 6)
  9. pacifist (chapter 6)
  10. conscientious (chapter 8)

Class Discussion

Socratic Seminar: If time allows, students can prepare for Socratic seminar.

Reading: Read chapters 9-11 for the next class.

Day 5: "Old Jane Gallagher on the Brain" (E, R, E2)

Bookmark Check/Journal: How does Holden feel about Jane Gallagher? Why do you think they never did anything except "hold hands"? Is there anything in the text that supports your answer?

Class Discussion

Socratic Seminar: If time allows, students can prepare for Socratic seminar.

Reading: Read chapters 12-14 for the next class.

Day 6: "It's Tougher for the Fish" (E, R, E2)

Reading Quiz

Class Discussion

Socratic Seminar: If time allows, students can prepare for Socratic seminar.

Reading: Read chapters 15-16 for the next class and finish preparing for the Socratic seminar.

Day 7: Socratic Seminar 1 (E, R, E2, T, O)

Socratic Seminar

Reading: Read chapters 17-19 for the next class. Students should have questions for the next Socratic seminar.

Day 8: "You mean to Go to a Psychoanalyst and All?" (E, R, E2)

Class Discussion

Socratic Seminar: If time allows, students can prepare for upcoming Socratic seminar.

Reading: Read chapters 20-22 for the next class.

Day 9: "I'd Just Be the Catcher in the Rye" (E, R, E2)

Bookmark Check/Journal: In chapter 22, Holden tells Phoebe, "Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around—nobody big, I mean—except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy" (224-225). What does Holden really want to do? What is the Catcher in the Rye? What is hoping to accomplish? Respond to these questions and be prepared to discuss.

"Comin' Thro' the Rye": Analyze the poem "Comin' Thro' the Rye," from which the title of the novel derives. Discuss the implications of Holden's misinterpretation of the poem.

Class Discussion

Reading: Read chapters 23-24 for the next class and study for the vocabulary quiz.

Day 10: "You're a Very, Very Strange Boy" (E, R, E2)

Vocab Quiz 2:
  1. incognito (chapter 9)
  2. nonchalant (chapter 13)
  3. disciple (chapter 14)
  4. bourgeois (chapter 15)
  5. sacrilege (chapter 18)
  6. inane (chapter 19)
  7. spontaneous (chapter 24)
  8. digress (chapter 24)
  9. harrowing (chapter 24)
  10. reciprocal (chapter 24)

Unreliable Narrator: Is Holden reliable? With a group of two or three, Find quotes and examples in the text that illuminate Holden's reliability. You will probably find evidence for both sides. With your group, weigh the evidence and determine whether he is more reliable or more unreliable. Be prepared to present your findings.

Class Discussion

Reading: Read chapters 25-26 and finish preparing for the Socratic seminar.

Day 11: Socratic Seminar 2 (E, R, E2, T, O)

Socratic Seminar

Day 12-13+: Performance Task and "Chapter 27" (E, R, E2, T, O)

Students will work in class in groups to complete the performance task and write up their findings. Outside of class, they will compose a creative writing piece envisioning Holden's future ("Chapter 27"). They will have a week to draft it and will workshop it in class on its due date. They will then revise the piece as we begin work on the next unit.

I think I have collected all the resources I have used to build this unit, but teachers are magpies—if I've omitted a credit, please let me know.


Dana Plans