Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Tracking Down Meaning in Great Expectations

Kara Davis
Bay District Schools


Each student is assigned an unique theme, symbol, or character in [Great Expectations]. The student becomes the class expert on that facet of the novel while learning the basic skills needed to write a research paper.


The student applies a variety of response strategies, including rereading, note taking, summarizing, outlining, writing a formal report, and relating what is read to his or her own experiences and feelings.

The student locates, gathers, analyzes, and evaluates written information for a variety of purposes, including research projects, real-world tasks, and self-improvement.

The student uses volume, stress, pacing, enunciation, eye contact, and gestures that meet the needs of the audience and topic.

The student uses details, illustrations, analogies, and visual aids to make oral presentations that inform, persuade, or entertain.

The student applies oral communication skills to interviews, group presentations, formal presentations, and impromptu situations.

The student understands the relationships between and among elements of literature, including characters, plot, setting, tone, point of view, and theme.


-Dickens, Charles. [Great Expectations]. Globe Book Company, Inc.: New York, 1986. (one copy per student)
-Construction paper
-Markers and colored pencils
-Pencils, pens


1. Gather materials.
2. Create or duplicate scoring rubric and topic list.


1. Introduce this activity as students begin reading [Great Expectations]. The projects, however, should not be due until students have completed reading [Great Expectations].

2. Display a list of the available topics on the board or overhead (included in associated file.)

3. Have students choose a topic or assign them each one.

4. Explain to students the project requirements:
a. Thesis statement that proves/explains the topicís significance to the novel
b. 3 quotes that support the thesis statement
c. Visual aid to communicate the topic
d. Oral presentation to share the above with the class
e. Readerís Log

5. Instruct students to keep a Readerís Log. Every time they come across the topic in the novel, write some notes about it, important quotes, and the page number in the log. In this way they will be tracking the topic through the book.

6. Explain that each tracking project must have a visual aid that is appropriate to the topic such as a poster, costume, handout, diorama, video, etc. and enhances the presentation.

7. Explain that each project must have a good thesis statement. (If students are not experienced in writing thesis statements, the teacher will need to instruct them in this area.)

8. Explain that each project must include 3 supporting quotes correctly documented.

9. Review the project and oral presentation rubrics with students (included in the associated file).

10. Factor in class time to allow for individual conferencing with students about their topics. Review their Readerís Logs with them and, as necessary, point out important passages related to their topics.


Use a rubric to assess the oral presentation (included in WEBSITE below and in FILE).

Use a rubric to assess the quality of the project information (included in FILE).

Note: These should be two separate assessments. They may be formative or summative depending on studentsí skills and whether the teacher wishes to expand the assignment into a mini-research paper. The readerís log may be a formative assessment (see checklist in FILE).


1.Students may expand their projects by writing a mini-research paper using the thesis and quotes created for the project.

2.Lower ability students may be given a partner to complete this assignment.

3.This idea may be used to study other novels. Simply change the topics that the students are assigned to track and use the same format.

4.The final test on the novel MAY be created from the information covered by the tracking topic presentations. Have students take notes during presentations, and inform them of the direct relationship to the test.

5.A few of the best projects can be selected to present to another class as a pre-reading activity as they begin [Great Expectations] to peak interest. (Be certain that students do not give away any of the surprises in the novel!)

Web Links

Web supplement for Tracking down meaning in GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Persuasive Speeches

Attached Files

The Tracking topic list and project rubric.     File Extension: pdf

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