Lesson Title: Tom Develops Ethical Responsibility


By: Deidrien Booth


Burning Question:

How can I help my students understand that Tom develops ethical responsibility throughout the novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?  How can I help them see a connection to him through their own experiences?



During the course of the novel, students will take note of Tomís pranks on a timeline and state whether a lesson was learnedógood, bad, or none at all.  Then, they will use a ďYĒ chart (graphic organizer) to compare or contrast Tom to themselves.



This is a ďduring readingĒ lesson for students that will help them interact with the text while examining the important issue of ethical responsibility, a major theme Twain explores through the development of Tom Sawyer.  This connection is important for students to investigate as they come to see changes in their own lives and compare their personal growth to that of the character Tom.



         Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Puffin Classics). London: Puffin Books, 2008.


Time Span:

The time it takes to read the novel, whether at home or in class, 2-4 weeks approximately.



1.                  As a pre-reading strategy, use the anticipation guide provided or one of your own to encourage discussion, especially of ethical responsibility.

2.                  During reading have students label the timeline with pranks, practical jokes, and other incidents that occur during the course of the novel.  Under the event, write whether Tom learned from the lesson or not.  While lessons are typically learned right away, some lessons might take a chapter or more to learn from.

3.                  At the end of the novel, use the information to fill in comparison/contrast chart.  Fill in characteristics singular to Tom on one side and characteristics singular to the individual student on the other.  In the center, fill in common characteristics.

4.                  Using the chart, write a paragraph on a ethical choice or decision or a question the student has struggled with or has been faced with. 





This strategy allows students to make a connection with Tom.  Using the timeline, they can note the points where Tom learned from his behaviors and when he did not.  The comparison/contrast chart allows students to see how they are similar to Tom, but to also see that the connection spans time.



The essay can be developed into a multi-paragraph paper or it can remain a shorter piece.  Because of the ďY NotesĒ chart, students could write a comparison/contrast piece of the student to Tom.  Timelines are also a flexible graphic organizer and can also be used to follow the plot instead.  In addition, a character sketch of Tom or a compare/contrast of Tom and Huck are possible.



         Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Puffin Classics). London: Puffin Books, 2008.





       Anticipation Guide





1.  Tricking someone for fun is not the same as being deceitful or lying.



2.  You should always tell the truth.



3.  Itís okay to pretend to be someone youíre not in order to fit in and not be made fun of.



4.  Itís okay to lie for yourself, a family member, or a friend if it keeps you out of trouble or danger.



5.  Money doesnít change a personís character.



6.  Itís better to follow laws, even if you donít agree with them.



7.  Children should obey and respect adults.



8.  An adolescentís behavior is influenced by friends more than anything else.



9.  An adolescentís attitudes are influenced by parents more than anything else.



10.  Cruelty begets cruelty and kindness begets kindness.






       Tomís Timeline of Development


List pranks and events that occur during the course of the novel Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  Below, tell whether Tom learned a lesson from the event or not.



     Y-Notes Compare/Contrast

Summarizing Differences and Similarities