Lesson Plan: The Teacher's Funeral (excerpt) by Richard Peck

If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of year for it," begins Richard Peck's latest novel, a book full of his signature wit and sass. Russell Culver is fifteen in 1904, and he's raring to leave his tiny Indiana farm town for the endless sky of the Dakotas. To him, school has been nothing but a chain holding him back from his dreams. Maybe now that his teacher has passed on, they'll shut the school down entirely and leave him free to roam.

No such luck. Russell has a particularly eventful season of schooling ahead of him, led by a teacher he never could have predicted-perhaps the only teacher equipped to control the likes of him: his sister Tansy. Despite stolen supplies, a privy fire, and more than any classroom's share of snakes, Tansy will manage to keep that school alive and maybe, just maybe, set her brother on a new, wiser course.

~from Amazon.com description of the book The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck

You can get the first two chapters free as a sample on the Amazon.com website.

As a reading and writing connection for the beginning of the school year, try introducing your workshop with a cute read from this novel by Peck?

Here’s how the lesson works:

Students read the first two chapters of The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck. After reading, students respond to the following close read questions:

  1. What was your initial thought when you read that first line?
  2. Find examples of dialect in the text.
  3. Explain the point of view of this text. Find two examples of the point of view. Why does this point of view work for this piece of text? How would the text be different if it was told from another point of view?
  4. How does the author use humor in a piece about a serious topic? Find examples and explain why they seem effective or not.
  5. What is the allusion found in this piece? Explain the allusion and what it means.
  6. Explain the metaphor in this phrase: Today me and Lloyd were a pair of whirlwinds. Explain how this metaphor is extended in chapter 2.
  7. The narrator says that “The twentieth century had found us at last, even here.” Explain this line and its implications.
  8. After reading the first two chapters and the book description above, what do you think will happen in the novel? Do you think that you might enjoy reading this novel? Why or why not?






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