English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Grade 12 ELA
  • Groups
  • Paraphrasing
  • Poetry
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Group Discussion

    Group Discussion


    In this lesson, students will discuss in small groups whether Antigone, Thoreau, or Dr. King was the most courageous in his or her stand of civil disobedience. Then they will write a short argument about it.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.


    • Form students into groups of three for the reading of the next play, Pygmalion, and for the following activity.
    • In preparation for a Whole Group Discussion and reflection, have students take time to discuss what they know about the examples of civil disobedience in three works:
      • ✓ Sophocles’s Antigone
      • ✓ Thoreau’s “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”
      • ✓ Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
    • You may need to review for them the details of Thoreau’s and Dr. King’s arrests from Lessons 7 and 8.
      • ✓ Point out to students, that unlike the character Antigone or unlike Henry David Thoreau, who was a free white man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., though respected in the African-American community, did not have the respect yet of many in the majority culture. Dr. King was considered by many to be a second-class citizen, and by some, a rabble-rouser.
      • ✓ In the “Jim Crow” South, because of his ethnicity, Dr. King was not allowed to eat at a public lunch counter, and he was required to use restrooms and drinking fountains marked “For Colored Only.”
    • Circulate through the room to listen for interesting ideas from students you may call on.
    • Facilitate a discussion. There may not be full agreement about the courage of the three, Antigone, Thoreau, and Dr. King. Milk the disagreements and ask students to consider the following criteria when judging the courage of the three:
      • ✓ The decision to act, the risks taken, and the obstacles to be overcome
      • ✓ The sacrifices made on behalf of others
      • ✓ The degree to which each person's social status impacted her or his decisions, actions, and behavior towards others
      • SWD: Consider how you will support students as they participate in the discussion. Whenever possible, provide scaffolding supports for students as they respond to the arguments of their peers.
      • ELL: When eliciting answers, be cognizant of the difficulties some students encounter when they have to express themselves in a foreign language. If you hear that they say the right things but use the wrong grammar structure, show signs of agreement and softly rephrase using the correct grammar (using the student’s words as much as possible).


    With the help of your teacher, form groups of three.

    Think about the characters and situations you have read about in this unit: Antigone in Antigone ; Henry David Thoreau, writer of “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., author of “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

    Discuss the relative courage of each of the three in your small groups and then with the whole class.

    • How would you rate each of them in terms of the following character traits: bravery, virtue, honor, and self-sacrifice?

    Who Is the Most Courageous?

    • Though this is not a complete argument, you can use the writing to assess how well students understood the reading and how well they write argument.

    Work Time

    After hearing the ideas of your classmates and thinking about civil disobedience from these three persons, decide which of them is the most courageous.

    • Write a short argument explaining why you think your choice is most courageous, what criteria you used, and how the other two fell short in your opinion.

    Open Notebook

    When you have finished, submit your writing to your teacher.


    • Monitor students and lend assistance as needed.

    Work Time

    Note any unknown words in this episode’s texts.

    • Work with a partner to look up definitions and rewrite them in your own words.

    Open Notebook

    The Role of Social Class

    • If time permits, have some students share their responses with the whole class after the partner share.


    Complete a Quick Write.

    • How would you describe the social classes of Antigone and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Did Antigone’s social class hurt her or help her? Did Dr. King’s social class help him or hurt him?

    Open Notebook

    Then share your response with a partner.

    In the next episode, you’ll read a play from the early 20th century, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion , named after another Greek myth. The play emphasizes the social classes of the characters.

    Independent Reading

    • Remind students to continue reading their Independent Reading Group Novel and to turn in journal entries.
      • ELL: Be sure that students are engaging in the Independent Reading successfully. Consider grouping students that need extra help and working with them as a way of supporting them during Independent Reading.


    Continue your ongoing homework assignment.

    • Read your Independent Reading Group Novel.
    • Remember to submit two journal entries a week to your teacher and publish some of your journal entries so others can read your work.