Unit objectives and sub-objectives

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The Nobel Prize in Literature
Pre-Instructional Phase

Jordyn Elrod

Dr. Martha Ralls

Curriculum Application in Secondary Classrooms

Problem-Based Unit Model
The Nobel Prize in Literature

A Problem-Based Unit Model

Pre-Instructional Phase


  1. Unit Objective

Given the history of the Nobel Prize in Literature, reading the works of past winners, and breaking down important literary elements, upon completion of a four week unit, 12th grade English students will recommend one piece of literature or author that deserves the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2011, considering: idealism, cultural significance, paradox, bias, persuasion, and human rights.

  1. Sub-Objectives

Mini-Unit #1: The Prize

  1. Recall specific details about the history of the Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel himself, and past winners.

  2. Explain why certain works are more likely to win the Nobel Prize than others with elements such as idealism, cultural significance, current issues, and persuasive language.

Mini-Unit #2: The Original Piece

  1. Apply knowledge gained of the elements of the Nobel Prize to construct an outline for his/ her own literary work.

Mini Unit #3: The Comparison

  1. Dissect two literary works that have previously won the Nobel Prize for literary style and elements, the cultural issue addressed, and its impact on society.

  2. Contrast the two literary works in a paper.

Mini-Unit #4: The Nomination

  1. Recommend a piece of literature or author that deserves the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2011, with the rational for acceptance based on previously discussed requirements and elements.

  2. Creating intellectual selections, dissecting literary material, and learning to defend their nomination before a board of judges.

  1. National and State Standards:

The following national standards related to the unit objectives and sub-objectives are from the National Council for Teachers of English, which is found online at NCTE.org/standards:

  1. Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to building understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world. (1)

  2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres. (2)

  3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. (3)

  4. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes. (5)

  5. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. (7)

  6. Students use a variety of technological and informational resources to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge. (8)

  7. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles. (9)

  8. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (ex: for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information). (12)

The following state standards relevant to this unit are from the Alabama State Department of Education and can be found online at ALEX.state.al.us:

  1. Compare organizational structure, figurative language, and literary devices, including use of paradox, among predominantly British short stories, drama, poetry, essays, and other nonfiction literature. (1)

  2. Read with comprehension a variety of informational and functional reading materials, including comparing bias and persuasive techniques in passages. (2)

  3. Write for a variety of purposes including critical essays on literary topics. (7)

  4. Demonstrate appropriate use of ellipses, parentheses, hyphens and suspended hyphens, hyphenation of number-and-noun modifiers, slashes, and use of commas with subordinate clauses and nominative absolutes. (8)

  5. Revise drafts to increase sentence complexity. (9)

  6. Use the research process to manage, document, organize, and present information to support a thesis on a teacher-approved topic of student interest. (10)

  7. Evaluate oral presentation skills of self and others for effectiveness. (12)

  1. Planning Rationale:

The four mini-units that make up this unit about the Nobel Prize in Literature are arranged from simple to complex in terms of literary content and level of thinking skills required. Students begin the unit in mini-unit #1 at the lowest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Development as they are first introduced to the Nobel Prize in Literature. They will be taught about its history and literary elements and will be able to recall and explain what they have learned.

In mini-unit #2, students apply their knowledge from the previous unit to then work in small groups to construct an outline that they would use for their own original literary work. This could be a poem, short story, or novel outline. This outline should use elements that are considered essential for the Nobel Prize and help students really comprehend what is required to create a worthy literary piece.
In mini-unit #3, students are asked to dissect the work of two Nobel Prize authors of their choice in the form of a research paper. Students will not only analyze the works for literary value, but contrast the two in order to see the diversity of prize-winning works.
Mini-unit #4 is the final mini-unit in which students reach the highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy, which is Evaluation. Based on their gained knowledge, original work, and thesis paper, students will then decide on a contemporary literary work that deserves to win the Nobel Prize for 2011. They will be judging value, making a decision based on specific requirements, and then recommending their selection to the board of The Swedish Academy. Students will have the opportunity to justify their nomination with a persuasive oral presentation and this will be the culmination of the unit.

  1. Content Specification Chart


Since 1901, the Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction."

The Nobel Prize is now awarded both for lasting literary merit and for evidence of consistent idealism on some significant level. In recent years, this means a kind of idealism championing human rights on a broad scale.
Persuasive writing, also known as the argument essay, utilizes logic and reason to show that one idea is more legitimate than another idea. It attempts to persuade a reader to adopt a certain point of view or to take a particular action. The argument must always use sound reasoning and solid evidence by stating facts, giving logical reasons, using examples, and quoting experts.
Parts of a persuasive essay include an introduction, thesis statement, body, and conclusion.
Genres of literature that have previously won the award include: narrative nonfiction, essay, biography, autobiography, historical fiction, and fiction in verse.

The candidates eligible for the Literature Prize are those nominated by qualified persons who have received an invitation from the Nobel Committee to submit names for consideration. Other persons who are qualified to nominate but have not received invitations may also submit nominations. No one can nominate himself or herself.

103 Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded since 1901. It was not awarded on seven occasions.
To date, the youngest Literature Laureate is Rudyard Kipling, best known for The Jungle Book, who was 42 years old when he was awarded the Literature Prize in 1907.
The oldest Nobel Laureate in Literature to date is Doris Lessing, who was 88 years old when she was awarded the Prize in 2007. 
No one has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature more than once.
The prize is awarded in Stockholm, Sweden and each prize consists of a medal, personal diploma, and a cash award.
The 107 Nobel Laureates in Literature from 1901 to 2010 have been writing/writes in the following languages: English 26, Bengali 1, French 13, Chinese 1, German 13, Czech 1, Spanish 11, Finnish 1, Italian 6, Hebrew 1, Swedish 6, Hungarian 1, Russian 5, Icelandic 1, Polish 4, Occitan 1, Norwegian 3, Portuguese 1, Danish 3, Serbo-Croatian 1, Greek 2, Turkish 1, Japanese 2, Yiddish 1, Arabic 1 
The last 10 years of prize winners are:

2010: Mario Vargas Llosa

2009: Herta Müller

2008: Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio

2007: Doris Lessing

2006: Orhan Pamuk

2005: Harold Pinter

2004: Elfriede Jelinek

2003: John M. Coetzee

2002: Imre Kertész

2001: Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul

2000: Gao Xingjia

Below is a brief description of the process involved in choosing the Nobel Laureates in Literature:

September – Nomination forms are sent out. The Nobel Committee sends out invitation letters to 600-700 individuals and organizations qualified to nominate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

February – Deadline for submission. The completed forms must reach the Nobel Committee not later than 31 January of the following year. The Committee then screens the nominations and submits a list for approval by the Academy.

April – Preliminary candidates. After further studies, the Committee selects 15–20 names for consideration as preliminary candidates by the Academy.

May – Final candidates. The Committee whittles down the list to five priority candidates to be considered by the Academy.

June-August – Reading of productions. The members of the Academy read and assess the work of the final candidates during the summer. The Nobel Committee also prepares individual reports.

September – Academy members confer. Having read the work of the final candidates, members of the Academy discuss the merits of the different candidates' contribution.

October – Nobel Laureates are chosen. In early October, the Academy chooses the Nobel Laureate in Literature. A candidate must receive more than half of the votes cast. The Nobel Laureates names are then announced.

December – Nobel Laureates receive their prize. The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony takes place on 10 December in Stockholm, where the Nobel Laureates receive their Nobel Prize, which consists of a Nobel Medal and Diploma, and a document confirming the prize amount

Compared to the other Nobel Laureates in Literature who have been awarded for their career as a whole, nine Literature Laureates have been specifically awarded for a particular literary work:

Mikhail Sholokhov in 1965
"for the artistic power and integrity with which, in his epic of the Don, he has given expression to a historic phase in the life of the Russian people"

Ernest Hemingway in 1954
"for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style"

Roger Martin Du Gard in 1937
"for the artistic power and truth with which he has depicted human conflict as well as some fundamental aspects of contemporary life in his novel-cycle Les Thibault"

John Galsworthy in 1932
"for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga"

Thomas Mann in 1929
"principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature"

Wladyslaw Reymont in 1924
"for his great national epic, The Peasants"

Knut Hamsun in 1920
"for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil"

Carl Spitteler in 1919
"in special appreciation of his epic, Olympian Spring"

Theodor Mommsen in 1902
"the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A history of Rome"


Nobel Prize

Alfred Nobel

Swedish Academy






Historical fiction


Narrative nonfiction

Fiction in verse




Thesis Paper

Human Rights

Critical Essay

Each year the Swedish Academy sends out requests for nominations of candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Members of the Academy, members of literature academies and societies, professors of literature and language, former Nobel literature laureates, and the presidents of writers' organizations are all allowed to nominate a candidate.
The winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature uses persuasive language to make their readers think and challenges their perspectives. The author is often giving a voice to a voiceless group or culture. In justice, oppression, and significant historical events such as genocide are often the theme that makes these winners so powerful.
In order to understand and appreciate well-written literature, he/she must try and write for one’s self.
The Nobel Prize in Literature is so much more than just an award because it encourages those writers who are making a difference in society to continue their work. There is a sense of honor and pride that is won for the country they represent. This prize unites the world under a common love for literature and the messages that are conveyed through that literature.


Problem-based learning procedures for analyzing problems, locating resources for information, generating solutions, and weighing the most plausible solution

Composing a thesis paper that dissects and contrasts two pieces of literary work
Working cooperatively in small, problem-solving groups
Defending a position before a board of judges through an oral presentation



  1. Recognizes the difference in genres of literature.

  2. Capable of composing well-structured sentences and paragraphs.

  3. Applies basic literary devices.


  1. Is aware of the diversity of different people groups and cultures around the world.

  2. Recognizes that some works of literature will be recognized for their excellence over others.

  3. Appreciates a well-written piece of literature.


  1. Works cooperatively with classmates in small groups.

  2. Is able to act from an assigned role in problem-solving scenarios.

  3. Is willing to stand up in front of the class to give an oral presentation.


To assist all students in the class before beginning the unit and helping them start on even footing, the following activities are introduced before instruction on new material begins:

  1. Inform students about the unit:

Before the new unit begins, the teacher creates a bulletin board in the classroom, displaying the following components:

The Nobel Prize in Literature

Nominees 2011



Will YOUR nomination win the ultimate literary prize?



Using the bulletin board, the teacher introduces the content of the new unit, pointing out its title and explaining the concept of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The

teacher will also tell the students about some of the most famous past winners and the history behind the prize. Rules and requirements will be discussed and the details of the prize will be disclosed. The teacher will explain to the students that they have been selected by the Nobel Prize Swedish Academy to select the 2011 Nobel Prize nominees. They will be working both individually and as a group to come up with a solution.

  1. Giving students a rationale for learning unit material:

The teacher will have another teacher or administrator from the school to come in and play the role of a member of the Swedish Academy. He will explain that the students are responsible for the nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature of 2011. He will spend some time explaining the prestigious award and answer any questions they may have.

The teacher will then come up and explain that they will be spending the next month in this Nobel Prize unit. He or she should take time to explain the vital knowledge and skills they will gain in roles such as academic researcher, editor, author, and a member of the Swedish Academy that will determine the nominees. They will learn to make intellectual selections, dissect literary material, and learn to defend their nomination before a board of judges.

  1. Reviewing entry behaviors

The teacher will take some time to review the entry skills listed previously with the whole class so that everyone is on the same page. This will be good review for students who are already capable and necessary for students who have fallen behind. This will be done by having a class discussion. The first part of the discussion will involve students listing all genres of literature they can think of with the teacher writing them on the board. Once written, the teacher will take time to explain each genre in detail so that there is a common definition. This same process will be done for literary devices. In addition, all of these genres and literary devices will be given to the students in a handout, along with the basic steps to composing a well structured paragraph. (See Appendix A for handout)

The teacher will then take the next part of class to have an open discussion about diversity, cultures, recognition of excellence, and the power of well written literature. There is not set objective other than to begin getting students to think about these topics as they transition into the unit. The teacher can assess student understanding based on their responses.

The teacher will take time to discuss the fact that this unit involves working in groups and students should be prepared to cooperate, contribute, delegate, and listen to others. They must also be ready to take on their assigned role and follow through with those responsibilities. The teacher should also let students know that part of the unit will include speaking in front of the class and review tips on good public speaking. (See Appendix A)

The teacher will then place students in small groups of 3 and will assign responsibilities for each of the group members. Students will work in these small groups for mini-units 1, 2, and 3.
Task Leader – responsible for the accountability of the group Keeps the group focused on the problem or assignment and guides deliberation toward constructive activities and conclusion. Keeps group log or journal for daily activities.
Recorder – responsible for synthesizing and recording input from individual group members toward a solution or conclusion from the group
Lead Presenter – responsible for conveying to the class their completed assignments and helping to form the oral presentation at the end of the unit. However, the other students in the group will also need to contribute to the presenting.
After introducing the broad theme and designating roles, the teacher will hand out a readiness test to see how well the students can identify different genres of literature, write a well-structured essay, and incorporate literary devices in that essay. The affective skills will be tested during an in-class discussion where the teacher will ask them how they feel about works from other countries receiving the prize, if this prize is important, etc. The social will be tested throughout as the students work in their small groups. The teacher may ask the students to assign the roles themselves and see how well they work together to complete that task. The teacher may also give them a simple in-class assignment to see how well they can work together, problem solve, and then present their answer.

  1. Providing a structured overview of the unit content:

The teacher will give a handout to the students with the structured overview of the unit. The new unit will be officially identified on the handout, along with the unit objective, sub-objectives, and grading plan for the unit (See Appendix A). The teacher will go over the handout, commenting as they go, and explaining what they can expect with each mini-unit.

The teacher will ask the students to take note of the schedule of assignments and due dates of papers and presentations. S/he will ask the students to keep this handout in the front of their binder for future reference. Students will have a chance to ask any questions they may have at the time.

At intervals throughout the unit, especially at the beginning of each mini-unit, the teacher should refer to the structured overview and help students see how they are progressing through the unit. The structured overview will look like the following:

The Original Piece



The Nomination

The Comparison

Nobel Prize in Literature

  1. Providing experiential background:

The teacher can have classical music playing in the background and have some refreshments for their “Academy Meeting” on the first day. The teacher can also put up posters of past Nobel Prize winners for the students to look at. After introducing the unit, the teacher could even ask the students to bring in their favorite piece of literature, no matter the subject, genre, or reading level. The students will have a chance to share their selection and explain why it is their favorite. This will get the students in the mood of talking about literature and defending their choice before the class. This may also bring about commonality if several students bring the same book. The teacher can show a documentary on the Nobel Prize or an author receiving the award. Several different documentaries can be found on youtube.com as well as nobelprize.org. These documentaries include overall information as well as tell the stories of specific winners.

  1. Reassuring students:

The teacher will explain to the students that the handout with the overview, schedule of assignments, and rubrics are all there to help them complete their work. The teacher may choose to tell stories of students from previous years to show what to do and what not to do. The teacher may even be able to tell some funny stories from past classes and this may lighten the mood if students are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. This will also be a good time to take questions from students so they have a more clear understanding of what is expected of them.

Appendix A

A-1 Genres of Literature
A-2 Literary Devices
A-3 Writing a Paragraph

A-4 Public speaking tips handout
A-5 In-class PBL introduction assignment
A-6 In-class PBL rubric
A-6 Structured Unit Overview handout


Types of Nonfiction:

Narrative Nonfiction: information based on fact that is presented in a format which tells a story.

Essays : short literary composition that reflects the author’s outlook or point. A short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative.

Biography: written account of another person’s life.

Autobiography: gives the history of a person’s life, written or told by that person. Often written in narrative form of their person’s life.

Speech: the faculty or power of speaking; oral communication; ability to express one’s thoughts and emotions by speech, sounds, and gesture. Generally delivered in the form of an address or discourse.

Nonfiction: informational text dealing with an actual, real-life subject. This genre of literature offers opinions or conjectures on facts and reality. This includes biographies, history, essays, speech, and narrative non-fiction. Nonfiction opposes fiction and is distinguished from those fiction genres of literature like poetry and drama which is the next section we will discuss.

Types of Fiction:

Short Story: fiction of such briefness that is not able to support any subplots.

Realistic Fiction: a story that can actually happen and is true to real life.

Historical Fiction: a story with fictional characters and events in a historical setting.

Fiction in Verse: full-length novels with plot, subplots, themes, with major and minor characters. Fiction of verse is one of the genres of literature in which the narrative is usually presented in blank verse form.

Fiction: narrative literary works whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact. In fiction something is feigned, invented, or imagined; a made-up story.


Literary Devices:

Allegory - a symbolic representation

Alliteration - the repetition of the initial consonant. There should be at least two repetitions in a row.

Allusion – A reference to a famous person or event in life or literature.

Analogy - the comparison of two pairs which have the same relationship.

Assonance - the repetition of similar vowel sounds in a sentence.

Climax - the turning point of the action in the plot of a play or story. The climax represents the point of greatest tension in the work.
Foreshadowing - hints of what is to come in the action of a play or a story
Hyperbole - a figure of speech involving exaggeration.
Metaphor - A comparison in which one thing is said to be another.

Onomatopoeia - the use of words to imitate the sounds they describe.

Oxymoron - putting two contradictory words together.

Personification - is giving human qualities to animals or objects.

Pun - A word is used which has two meanings at the same time, which results in humor.

Simile - figure of speech involving a comparison between unlike things using like, as, or as though.


How to create a well-structured paragraph:

Parts to the paragraph:

Topic sentence – first sentence that introduces the main idea and lets the reader what your paragraph will be about

Supporting details – makes up the body of the paragraph and gives details to develop and support the main idea. This includes facts, quotes, examples etc.

Closing sentence – last sentence that restates the main idea in different words

Steps: Pre-write and brainstorm, jot down your thoughts and then organize them

Write your rough draft with topic sentence, details, and a closing sentence

Edit your rough draft for grammar and spelling as well as style and organization

Publish your final, revised copy


Public Speaking Tips

Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say.
Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words; Practice, pause and breathe. Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected.
Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
Relax. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. ("One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.
Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They’re rooting for you.
Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem – the audience probably never noticed it.
Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.
Gain experience. Mainly, your speech should represent you — as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking.

“Lights, Camera, Action!”
Group TV Auditions

Congratulations! You have been called back to be a part of a group audition for JMP Spotlight Productions! They loved your first audition, but now the directors want to see if you can handle speaking in an accent.

These are the requirements for the audition:

  • You will be working in groups of 4.

  • You must act out a role play or scene that shows characters interacting

  • Time Limit: 3 minutes

  • Group must use at least 3 different accents

Group auditions will be held on Thursday, April 28th in the classroom

You have the rest of today and tomorrow to work on this. Good Luck!

Group Members ___________________________ Date ___________________



Group Auditions Rubric







At least 3 accents must be used

Students failed to have any accents

Only had 1 accent

Only had 2 accents

Had 3 or more accents in scene

Time Limit of 3 Minutes

Scene was 3 min over

Scene was 2 min over

Scene was 1 min over

Did not exceed 3 Min

Equal Participation

One student did all the work/ would not let others participate

About half the group participates, dominated by 1 or 2 people

Almost full participation, but at least 1 person uninvolved

Equal participation evident by all group members


No preparation evident

A little bit prepared

Mostly prepared

Very well prepared



Nobel Prize in Literature Unit Overview
We are beginning a unit that is based on the Nobel Prize in Literature. Not only will we learn about the history of Alfred Nobel, the prize, the Swedish Academy, and past winners, but we will delve into the literary structure and devices of past winners to create original literary works as well as nominate a current piece of work for the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2011. Below in the structured overview of our unit:

The Original Piece



The Nomination

The Comparison

Nobel Prize in Literature

This unit contains four mini-units that will be completed over a 9 week period. At the end of the unit, you will be asked to nominate a piece of literature for this year’s award. This will include a well-written thesis paper, an oral presentation, and answering questions. Below is the overall unit objective along with the titles and sub-objectives of each mini-unit:

Unit Objective: Given the history of the Nobel Prize in Literature, reading the works of past winners, and breaking down important literary elements, upon completion of a four week unit, 12th grade English students will recommend one piece of literature or author that deserves the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2011, considering: idealism, cultural significance, paradox, bias, persuasion, and human rights.
Mini-Unit #1: The Prize

Recall specific details about the history of the Nobel Prize, Alfred Nobel himself, and past winners.

Explain why certain works are more likely to win the Nobel Prize than others with elements such as idealism, cultural significance, current issues, and persuasive language.
Mini-Unit #2: The Original Piece

Apply knowledge gained of the elements of the Nobel Prize to construct an outline for his/ her own literary work.

Mini Unit #3: The Comparison

Dissect two literary works that have previously won the Nobel Prize for literary style and elements, the cultural issue addressed, and its impact on society.

Contrast the two literary works in a paper.
Mini-Unit #4: The Nomination

Recommend a piece of literature or author that deserves the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2011, with the rational for acceptance based on previously discussed requirements and elements.

They will learn to make intellectual selections, dissect literary material, and learn to defend their nomination before a board of judges.
These are some of the assignments that will be due over the course of these next 9 weeks:

Group evaluation forms

Study Guide packets

Mini-unit #1 test

Original Work Outline

Comparison Paper
In-class discussion

Thesis Paper

Oral Presentation

Final Unit Test

Grading Plan:
In-Class Participation (discussion and assignments)…………………………50 points

Mini-Unit #1 Test…………………………………………………………….100 points

Original Work Outline………………………………………………………..100 points

Comparison Paper……………………………………………………………100 points

Thesis Paper…………………………………………………………………..150 points

Oral Presentation……………………………………………………………...150 points

Final Unit Test………………………………………………………………...200points
TOTAL………………………………………………………………………..850 points

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