Essential Questions for the Unit
  • What responsibility does an individual have to family? How far does that responsibility extend?
  • What are some consequences of extreme alienation or isolation? Whose fault is it when an individual feels alienated? What responsibility does society have?
  • In a digital age, what resources can combat alienation, isolation, and family dysfunction?

Throughout our reading of Franz Kafka’s novella, The Metamorphosis, we will discuss Gregor Samsa’s transformation into an insect as a symptom of both his disconnection from the world and his family’s dysfunction. This lesson and assignment will be a culminating activity that should serve as a way for students to synthesize our discussions and demonstrate an understanding of how the novella’s themes are applicable to modern life. (See unit overview for further details).

Assignment Overview
In groups, students will work collaboratively to write a theme statement that is applicable to the novella; this statement will serve as a sort of thesis to focus the rest of the project. The students will include textual support for their interpretation of theme. The students will continue to work in groups to create a suite of digital resources that could help the Samsa family if they were living in today’s world. They will complete their work in a collaborative environment on Wikispaces.

Desired Outcomes
Students will be able to
  • Work collaboratively to write a theme statement and provide textual support for their ideas.
  • Make connections between a fictional text and real life issues
  • Explain how technological resources can be harnessed to increase human connections in an increasingly digital world

Instructional Plan
Day 1 (partial class period):
  1. Brainstorm – Students work in pairs to brainstorm a list of issues that The Metamorphosis covers. Teacher takes notes on Promethean Board while pairs share items from their list.
  2. Tell students that they will be starting a group project tomorrow, and that their homework is to watch “Project Overview,” a video that introduces them to the project. They will receive and email with a link to the video, and they can also find the link on the class’s Edline page.

Day 2 – (In computer lab) –
  1. While students log into computers, answer questions students have about the assignment based on the video tutorial.
  2. Direct students to go to the class Wiki page (which students should have bookmarked; they can also get a link on Edline if they have lost the URL), where they should visit the home page for the project: “//The Metamorphosis// - A Resource Kit for the Samsas.” Instruct students to spend 15 minutes reading over and exploring the resources under the heading “Theme Statement.” Post the central questions you’d like them to be able to answer on the Promethean Board: What is a theme statement? How can you turn one of the issues/topics we brainstormed yesterday into a theme statement?
  3. After 15 minutes, tell students should turn to an elbow partner to discuss the two questions. After a couple of minutes of discussion, use random selection to call on a few students for responses.
  4. Teacher should show an example of how to write a theme statement based on a text the class has read together.
  5. Remainder of class – Instruct students to explore the assignment homepage, including the rubric for the assignment . Exit card – Students should email or tweet (#SamsaResource) teacher with responses to these questions: What questions or concerns do you still have about the assignment? What is not clear?

Day 3-6
  1. Assign groups for the project. Let students know that they will complete the next two steps of the project on the wikispace, outside of class time.
  2. First, they should use the discussion space on the wiki to choose a “topic” to tackle for theme statement. Then, the group should continue to use the discussion space to write and refine a draft theme statement. Post a final version of the theme statement on the group’s space in the wiki.
  3. Next, each individual needs to find 2 pieces of textual evidence to support the group’s interpretation of theme; each student should post the evidence and corresponding explanation on the wiki (These two steps should be completed within 4 days).

Days 7-10
  1. Groups should use the wiki discussion space to discuss the type of electronic resources they might like to put together for the Samsa family. For example, if we were completing the project for the characters in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, the group may have written the following theme statement: It is impossible to escape your past, so it is best to acknowledge wrongdoing in order to move forward with life. In this case, maybe it would make sense to link to articles and organizations that help individuals face up to their history.
  2. Once the approach to the digital resource has been decided, each group member should begin to add relevant annotated resources to the group’s list on Diigo (teacher will create group and invite members). The group should post a link to the list on their wiki page.
  3. Finally, after the Diigo list is complete, each individual should post a reflection on the Wiki. The reflection should provide answers to the following questions: What have you learned from The Metamorphosis that is relevant to modern life? What did you learn about how technology can help individuals and families in times of trouble? How can technology help you in your life? How did you learn these things?


Example of product - project itself, plus reflection assignment

Differentiation - Content is delivered in multiple modes; students work in multiple configurations (small groups, face-to-face, full class, virtually); students can express learning through different means (talking, writing in discussion boards, choice of resources to put together, explanations of choices, reflection log at end).

Students will complete a pre-reading Anticipation Guide to assess their attitudes about some thematic ideas in the novella. (A possible extensionB: After reading, revisit statements and discuss if ideas or attitudes have changed as a result of their study.)

Formative Assessments – The end of class exit card will help me measure how clear the assignment is and monitor how comfortable students seem with the assignment. I will be able to drop in on each group’s wiki page to see how well they are progressing and where they are struggling; this will allow me to either provide assistance when necessary or even make modifications to the assignment if need be.

Summative Assessment – Rubric will be used to assess collaboration, communication skills, ability to articulate theme & provide support, creativity and thoughtfulness in use of technology. Written reflection about the learning process will provide additional insight into what students have learned.

Prior Content Knowledge
I will assume that students have read the text and taken part in class discussions. I will assume that they have experience providing textual support for their interpretations.

Prior Technical Knowledge
Our class will have been using wikispaces with enough frequency that I will not need to provide extensive instructions on how to access/use these. I would some familiarity with Diigo prior to this as well, as I plan to use them in class; students may not know how to create a Diigo list and/or annotate a bookmarked page, however, so I will provide instruction/resources to support them in learning this.

Student Resources

Diigo List of Theme Statement Resources

Project Overview Screencast
(Please note: if you are using the Firefox browser, you may not be able to see the Screencast, as Firefox seems to be experience some problem with the Java applet. One solution: open the Screencast in a different browser.)