The Alchemist Unit Plan By Adam Durose
Table of Contents PAGE Rationale…………………………………………………………………………… 1
Lesson Outline……………………………………………………………………… (Schedule)
Appendix 1: Learner Outcomes…………………………………………………….. (from the Alberta Program of Studies)
Appendix 2: Pre-reading Assignment……………………………………………….
Appendix 3: Culminating Assignment………………………………………………
The Alchemist Unit Plan Rationale: Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is a deceptively simple novel that addresses universal themes, like the quest for self-knowledge. Through its fable like narrative, students will understand literary techniques and devices. They will also be able to state the plot, settings, and characters. In addition, the novel is easy reading for less capable students, yet poses enough stimulating questions for more advanced pupils. Further, The Alchemist speaks to readers in its theme of self-fulfillment, which will engage adolescent learners. This unit is intended for English 10-1 and will encompass ten classes.
Lesson Outline Day One Group research work is assigned. Students will research a variety of topics as a prereading assessment. See the Assessment sections for research topics. The novel is begun in class and students are to read the first thirty pages of the novel for homework and do questions.
Day Two A homework check begins the class. Group presentations on their topics, with materials handed in for marking. Students then discuss the importance of dreams in life. The class is to read up to page 56 and to complete questions for homework. Guiding questions: What is the myth of Narcissus? Why does Coelho begin the novel with a different version of the story? What are archetypes? How do archetypes effect literature? How does Homer’s The Odyssey continue to influence literature?
Day Three Carl Jung’s archetypal criticism and dream interpretations are examined in class. Students are to read to page 87 and to do questions for homework. Guiding questions:
What are archetypal interpretations? How do they influence dream analysis? Why was Jung interested in alchemy? What is the philosopher’s stone? Are things what they seem, or have we lost our way to perceive the world?
Day Four The questions are taken up and the class discusses the novel thus far. Students will discuss non-verbal language and its importance in communication. Students will watch the episode of Seinfeld when Kramer tries to communicate without speaking. Students are to read to page 123 and to do questions. Guiding questions: What is non-verbal communication? How is non-verbal communication used in life? Why is Kramer unsuccessful in his attempt? Are there other forms of communication besides the verbal and non-verbal forms? How does our perception influence our decisions?
Day Five The class discusses allusions. In particular, biblical allusions are examined. Students are given a list of allusions from the novel and they are to research them during the class. The culminating activity is assigned. Students are to read to page 152. Guiding questions: What is an allusion? Why do you think Coelho uses biblical allusions in the novel? What is the Koran? Who are the Coptics? Name some other religions. What evidence is there in the novel to suggest allusions to these other religions? Why is Santiago a shepherd? What does Santiago mean in English? Sample allusions that students are to research include tithing, “the land of milk and honey”, “stranger in a strange land”, and King Melchizedek.
Day Six A quiz begins the class and assignments are due. Students will then discuss plot and setting in the novel. Students will also examine parables and how they relate to Coelho’s novel. In particular, Aesop’s parables will be read in class. Students are to select a significant parable and to represent it in a comic strip for homework. Students are to finish the novel for homework. Guiding questions: What are the significances of parables?
How does this novel resemble a parable? What is the setting? Why is it set mainly in the desert? Do you think that this novel has any lessons for us to learn? Why do dreams inform us in life? What obstacles do we face when trying to get our dreams? Does society force youth to forget their dreams? If so, how?
Day Seven A homework check is done to begin the class. Students will examine the important characters from the book. They will examine their relationships and how they are significant. In addition, they will discuss why alchemy is symbolic in the novel. Guiding questions: How is the idea of destiny formed in the book? Why does Santiago leave the oasis? Why does Santiago have to finish his journey alone? How is symbolism used in the novel? What is important about alchemy to the text? What is Coelho saying about spiritual alchemy?
Day Eight A discussion of the theme of The Alchemist is held. Students will also discuss the ironic ending. In addition, students are to get into groups to find wise and philosophical quotations from the novel. Guiding questions: What is Coelho saying about our destinies in life? How does the universe conspire to help us? In what forms does the Alchemist appear to Santiago? Why is the ending ironic? What do your quotations have to say about life?
Day Nine Students are to get into groups and make a visual representation of all the obstacles that Santiago faces in the novel. Guiding questions: Why do we have to face difficulties in life? Would life be more fulfilling without obstacles? Does Santiago find fulfillment in his quest?
Day Ten Students write the exam.
Assignments Pre-reading: Group research of key elements in the novel. A visual component is required for the project. For example, groups will research the following: Fables Alchemy Omens The pyramids of Egypt Gypsies The significance of dreams Saharan tribal warfare ELA’s: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, Viewing
Culminating: Students will complete one of the following assignments: Write letters between Fatima and Santiago Scrapbook Santiago’s travels Write a dream journal with interpretations ELA’s: Reading, Writing, Representing
Assessments 1. Pre-reading activity. 2. Quiz. 3. Culminating activity. 4. Final test. Sample questions include: How does Santiago initially begin his quest? Do his parents support him? Compare and contrast the Englishman’s Personal Legend with that of the Alchemist? Write your own Personal Legends and the obstacles that you face. How does your Personal Legend compare to that of Santiago?
Appendix 1: Learner Outcomes 1. Students will explore thoughts, ideas, feelings, and experiences. 1.1 Discover possibilities 1.1.1 Form tentative understandings, interpretations and positions: -Generate and experiment with strategies that contribute to forming tentative understandings, interpretations and positions. -Form tentative understandings, interpretations and positions on ideas and issues communicated in literature by expressing own explorations and considering others’ explorations, 1.1.2 Experiment with language, image and structure: -Experiment with language, image and structure to create different effects in particular situations and for particular purposes. -Experiment with a variety of strategies and activities to explore ideas, observations, opinions, experiences and emotions 1.2 Extend awareness 1.2.1 Consider new perspectives: -Identify own ideas, perspectives and interpretations and evaluate them for depth of explanation, evidence or support; and consider the ideas, perspectives and interpretations of others to broaden own understandings when exploring and responding to texts 1.2.2 Express preferences and expand interests -Reflect on personal written text preferences, identify influences that have contributed to the formation of these preferences and select strategies that may be used to expand interests in written texts and text creators 1.2.3 Set personal goals for language growth: -Demonstrate a willingness to continuously learn and grow 2. Students will comprehend literature and other texts in oral, print, visual and multimedia forms, and respond critically, personally, and creatively.
2.1 Construct meaning and analyze content 2.1.1 Discern and analyze content: -Identify a variety of different purposes for creating novels
-Describe the relationship between text and context 2.1.2 Understand and interpret content: -Use a variety of strategies to comprehend text -Paraphrase a text’s main idea and identify supporting ideas and details -Summarize the plot of a narrative, describe its setting and atmosphere, describe development of conflict and identify theme -Describe the personality traits, motivations, attitudes, values and relationships of characters developed in text -Describe a text creator’s tone and relate tone to purpose and audience -Differentiate between literal and figurative statements and between imagery and nonsensory language, identify symbol, recognize familiar allusions and describe how images are developed in texts 2.1.3 Engage prior knowledge: -Recall prior knowledge of rhetorical devices used in previously studied texts and textual elements employed to assist in understanding new texts -Classify the genre of new texts according to attributes of genres previously studied 2.1.4 Use reference strategies and reference technologies -Use appropriate reference strategies to aid understanding, like taking notes 2.2 Understand and appreciate textual forms, elements and techniques 2.2.1 Relate form, structure and medium to purpose, audience and content: -Identify what a fable is and describe the relationship of form to purpose and content -Describe a variety of organizational patterns and structural features that contribute to purpose and content 2.2.2 Relate elements, devices and techniques to created effects: -Describe rhetorical devices and stylistic techniques that create clarity, coherence and emphasis in the novel -Describe elements that contribute to atmosphere, tone and voice -Recognize irony and identify language used to create irony -Describe the effects of figures of speech and sensory details -Recognize the use of motif and symbol 2.3 Respond to a variety of print and nonprint texts 2.3.1 Connect self, text, culture and milieu -Respond personally and analytically to ideas developed in the text -Compare choices and motive of characters in texts with choices and motives of self and others -Identify and examine ways in which cultural and societal influences are reflected in the novel 2.3.2 Evaluate the verisimilitude, appropriateness and significance of print and nonprint texts: -Identify criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of texts, monitor the effectiveness of the criteria and modify the criteria as needed -Asses the appropriateness of own and others’ understandings and interpretations of the novel by referring to the text for supporting evidence -Describe the setting and plot in terms of reality and plausibility
-Describe character and characterization in terms of consistency of behavior, motivation and plausibility -Describe images in the novel in terms of created reality and appropriateness to purpose -Asses the significance of a short story’s theme, and the adequacy, relevance and effectiveness of its supporting details, examples and content in general 2.3.3 Appreciate the effectiveness and artistry of print and nonprint texts: -Use terminology appropriate to the novel studied for discussing and appreciating the effectiveness and artistry of the novel -Describe the effectiveness of the novel for presenting feelings, ideas, information and for evoking response 3. Students will manage ideas and information. 3.1 Determine inquiry or research requirements 3.1.1 Focus on purpose and presentation form: -Describe the purpose of inquiry and the scope of the inquiry and identify the target audience -Refine the purpose of inquiry by limiting or expanding the topic as appropriate 3.1.2 Plan inquiry or research, and identify information needs and sources -Develop an appropriate inquiry that will address the topic and satisfy contextual requirements-purpose, audience and situation-and requirements of presentation form -Determine the breadth and depth of prior knowledge, and formulate questions to determine information needs -Identify and select potential strategies for gathering, generating, and recording information, like outlining, webbing and taking notes in point form 3.2 Follow a plan of inquiry 3.2.1 Select, record and organize information: -Record information accurately and completely -Organize information logically 3.2.3 Form generalizations and conclusions: -Draw conclusions that reflect own understandings and are consistent with the identified topic, purpose and situation -Distinguish between support and generalization, and provide support for generalizations and conclusions 3.2.4 Review inquiry or research process and findings -Reflect and asses the effectiveness in strategies used to guide inquiry 4. Students will create oral, print, visual and multimedia texts, and enhance the clarity and artistry if communication. 4.1 Develop and present a variety of print and nonprint texts 4.1.1 Asses text creation context: -Reflect on the purposes for novel creation and on own motives for selecting strategies to engage an audience
-Identify purpose and target audience for text creation and select strategies to accomplish purpose and engage audience -Describe expectations and constraints of a communication situation, like paraphrasing assignment instructions to identify tasks; seek teacher clarification when needed; and develop a work plan for completion 4.1.2 Consider and address form, structure and medium: -Identify and use structures consistent with form, content and purpose when creating texts, like chronological order to structure events in a narrative -Understand the concept of convention and apply it 4.1.3 Develop content: -Take ownership of text creation, by selecting a topic, concept or idea that is personally meaningful and engaging -Recognize and assess personal variables and contextual variables that influence the selection of a topic, concept or idea; and address those variables to increase the likelihood of successful text creation -Establish a focus for text creation and communicate it by framing an effective controlling idea -Develop supporting details -Develop content appropriate to purpose -Develop content appropriate to audience and situation 4.2 Improve thoughtfulness, effectiveness and correctness of communication 4.2.1 Enhance thought and understanding and support and detail: -Review the controlling idea or desired unifying effect of a text in progress for clarity and focus -Review the accuracy, specificity and precision of details, events, images, facts, or other data intended to support a controlling idea or to develop a unifying effect; add to text as needed to provide sufficient support -Detect and correct logical fallacies -Review own critical/analytical response to short stories for plausibility, appropriateness of interpretations and precision, completeness, and relevance of evidence; revise as necessary 4.2.2 Enhance organization: -Asses the beginning of a text in progress and revise it as needed to establish purpose -Review the organizational components of a text in progress and revise as needed -Review the closing of a text in progress of a text in progress and revise it as needed -Asses the relationships among controlling idea, supporting ideas and supporting details; strengthen relationships as need to enhance the unity of the text -Asses transitions and transitional devices and revise them as need to strengthen coherence 4.2.3 Consider and address matters of choice: -Reflect on personal vocabulary and repertoire of stylistic choices and on their effectiveness; and expand of vocabulary and stylistic choices -Use words and expression appropriately -Use a variety of sentence patterns and structures appropriately and effectively -Describe the effects of own use of stylistic techniques and rhetorical devices
-Recognize personal voice in texts created and continue to develop writing through practice 4.2.4 Edit text for matters of correctness: -Use handbooks and other tools as resources to assist with text creation -Know and be able to apply capitalization and punctuation correctly -Know and be able to apply spelling conventions -Identify and be able to use parts of speech correctly, including nouns, verbs and adjectives -Identify parts of the sentence in own and others’ texts, including subject, verb and predicate -Review and revise texts in progress to correct common sentence faults -Know and be able to use common sentence structures correctly -Pay particular attention to punctuation, grammar, usage and sentence construction when using unfamiliar vocabulary, complex syntax and sophisticated rhetorical devices 5. Students will respect, support and collaborate with others. 5.1 Respect others and strengthen community 5.1.1 Use language and image to show respect and consideration: -Monitor own use of verbal and nonverbal communication in order to convey respect and consideration -Analyze and describe positive or negative portrayals in specific subjects and be sensitive to the feelings of others 5.1.2 Appreciate diversity of expression, opinion and perspective: -Appreciate diversity of thought and expression, select and monitor appropriate strategies for appreciating diversity, and modify selected strategies as needed 5.1.3 Recognize accomplishments and events: -Use language and image to honor own and others’ accomplishments 5.2 Work within a group 5.2.1 Cooperate with others, and contribute to group processes: -Set appropriate personal goals for participation in a group; respect, be open to and be supportive if the thoughts, opinions and contributions of others in a group; and share personal knowledge, expertise and perspectives with others, as appropriate -Ensure that a team’s purpose and objectives are clear 5.2.2 Understand and evaluate group process: -Develop and use criteria to monitor and assess group process, like time management and division of labor -Understand the various potential roles and responsibilities of group members -Identify and use various means to facilitate completion of group projects -Analyze the function of teamwork tools, like timelines
Appendix 2: Pre-reading Assignment This novel involves a number of key concepts, peoples and places that we should know something about before we begin. This will take a little research, but thankfully everyone is a good group worker. Here is what you will do: Get into a group of no bigger than four people Choose a topic to research from the following: Fables Alchemy Omens The pyramids of Egypt Gypsies The significance of dreams Saharan tribal warfare Prepare a report about your subject with key points and issues Create a visual component that successfully reflects your subject Be prepared to present your material to the class Submit your written work to me for evaluation
You have all class to work today and you will present your findings next class.
Appendix 3: Culminating Assignment
Complete ONE of the following assignments: 1. Write letters between Fatima and Santiago as he travels the desert. 2. Create a scrapbook of Santiago’s travels. Things to consider including are the oasis, the desert, the church in Andalusia, the crystal shop and the Coptic monastery. 3. Keep a dream journal. In it, try to interpret your dreams’ meanings. Are your dreams trying to tell you something or are they just random feedback from your brain?