http://www.storyboardthat.com/teacher-guide/the-wednesday-wars-by-gary-d-schmidt

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

Teacher Guide by Bridget Baudinet

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category!

Student Activities for The Wednesday Wars Include:

The Wednesday Wars is a coming of age story that will provoke equal parts laughter and reflection. A comic account of the fictional Holling Hoodhood’s seventh grade year, the book also plumbs unexpected emotional depths as Holling navigates bullies, friendships, and familial stress, all to the grim backdrop of the Vietnam War. Throughout his adventures, Holling reads a number of Shakespearean plays at the direction of his teacher, making the book rife with literary allusions and explorations of Shakespeare’s most famous lines and themes. Holling’s first person narration also includes plenty of playful instances of figurative language. Teachers will find this book a perfect opportunity to explore literary concepts while keeping students engaged and entertained.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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Background Information

Most middle school readers will likely be unfamiliar with the Shakespeare Holling repeatedly alludes to. The book provides some context for Holling’s reflections on famous lines (such as “The quality of mercy is not strained”), but additional background may provide opportunities for reading support or enrichment activities. The list below contains the plays that Holling reads through the year. For short summaries of each one, click here. Summaries for many of the plays are also available in video form on Youtube.



In addition to the Shakespeare, young readers may need background on the history of the 1960s. The Vietnam War is in full swing when the novel begins, and issues like the draft, war protests, and political leaders come up repeatedly. The Battle of Kesanh is given particular prominence in the book, as Mrs. Baker’s husband goes missing in action during this five-month siege. (For video background on this battle and the Vietnam war in general, click here.) Other cultural realities of the sixties make their way into the story as well, from the hippie movement to Walter Cronkite and the CBS Evening News. Consider previewing the topics below with your students before reading The Wednesday Wars.


  • Vietnam War
  • Student Protests at Columbia University and UC Berkeley
  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • Flower Children
  • Robert Kennedy
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • The Cold War

Essential Questions for The Wednesday Wars

  1. How can political events happening far away affect our home communities?
  2. How does Holling grow and change over the course of seventh grade?
  3. What role do books (and plays) play in Holling’s life?
  4. What does it mean to be a true friend to someone?
  5. How can we use defeat to grow?

The Wednesday Wars Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

The Wednesday Wars Plot Diagram


Copy Assignment



A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example The Wednesday Wars Plot Diagram

Exposition

Holling Hoodhood lives with his parents and sister in “the perfect house” on Long Island, New York. He is just beginning seventh grade at Camillo Junior High with the strict Mrs. Baker as his homeroom teacher.


Conflict

When the other students leave for religious education on Wednesday afternoons, Holling is the only student left in class. Holling believes that his teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates him for this and is out to make his life miserable.


Rising Action

For the first few Wednesdays, Mrs. Baker gives Holling chores to keep him busy. Then she begins assigning him Shakespeare plays. As he goes through the year, the lessons of the plays seem to connect to his life. Holling navigates bullying, community theater, sports, and his first girlfriend, alongside fears about the Vietnam War and the unrest it causes. All the while, Holling's demanding father keeps tensions high in the Hoodhood household, causing Holling’s older sister to run away.


Climax

One Wednesday, Mrs. Baker takes Holling on an architectural tour of his city. During the tour, he realizes there is more to architecture than money and prestige as his father thinks. Holling reassesses his priorities; he realizes that he cares about his friends and Mrs. Baker and misses his sister Heather.


Falling Action

Holling cashes in his savings bond to help his sister return home. He goes on an end-of-the-year class field trip, and later attends Danny Hupfer’s bar mitzvah.


Resolution

Holling stands up to his father, telling him that being a man is about more than a good job. The story ends on a happy note with Holling surrounded by friends, watching as Mrs. Baker’s husband returns home safely from Vietnam.


The Wednesday Wars Plot Diagram
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION Holling Hoodhood lives with his parents and sister in “the perfect house” on Long Island, New York. He is just beginning seventh grade at Camillo Junior High with the strict Mrs. Baker as his homeroom teacher. When the other students leave for religious education on Wednesday afternoons, Holling is the only student left in class. Holling believes that his teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates him for this and is out to make his life miserable. For the first few Wednesdays, Mrs. Baker gives Holling chores to keep him busy. Then she begins assigning him Shakespeare plays. As he goes through the year, the lessons of the plays seem to connect to his life. Holling navigates bullying, community theater, sports, and his first girlfriend, alongside fears about the Vietnam War and the unrest it causes. All the while, Holling's demanding father keeps tensions high in the Hoodhood household, causing Holling’s older sister to run away. One Wednesday, Mrs. Baker takes Holling on an architectural tour of his city. During the tour, he realizes there is more to architecture than money and prestige as his father thinks. Holling reassesses his priorities; he realizes that he cares about his friends and Mrs. Baker and misses his sister Heather. Holling cashes in his savings bond to help his sister return home. He goes on an end-of-the-year class field trip, and later attends Danny Hupfer’s bar mitzvah. Holling stands up to his father, telling him that being a man is about more than a good job. The story ends on a happy note with Holling confident in himself, surrounded by friends, and watching as Mrs. Baker’s husband returns home safely from Vietnam. Holling, clean out Sycorax and Caliban's cage today... Sometimes it feels as if life is governed by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Is there anything else we can do? Camillo Junior High School

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of The Wednesday Wars.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



Plot Diagram Template
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION

Example

(Use this rubric or create your own on Quick Rubric.)





Copy Assignment

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Figurative Language in The Wednesday Wars

Holling uses many instances of figurative language when recounting his story in The Wednesday Wars. Many of his exaggerated claims or dramatic comparisons lend humor to his tale. Storyboards can be a helpful way for students to explore these figurative meanings. Have students search for examples of metaphor, simile, personification, idiom, or hyperbole in the text. Next, ask them to depict each example and explain its meaning and significance below.


Examples of Figurative Language in The Wednesday Wars

Hyperbole Exaggeration or overstatement for humor or emphasis

"Of all the kids in the seventh grade at Camillo Junior High, there was one kid that Mrs. Baker hated with heat whiter than the sun. Me."

Simile A comparison using 'like' or 'as'

"She slashed through my answers with a broad swathe of bright red ink. It looked like my test was bleeding to death."

Metaphor An implied comparison between two things

"I was to come to the Principal's office ... I headed off to Death Row."

Personification Giving human-like characteristics to non-human objects or abstract ideas

"There were the demon rats ... their eyes filled with the Big M - Murder! ... The faster I ran, the more their yellow hatred grew..."


The Wednesday Wars Figurative Language
Create your own at Storyboard That HYPERBOLE SIMILE METAPHOR PERSONIFICATION "Of all the kids in the seventh grade at Camillo Junior High, there was one kid that Mrs. Baker hated with heat whiter than the sun. Me." "She slashed through my answers with a broad swathe of bright red ink. It looked like my test was bleeding to death." "I was to come to the Principal's office ... I headed off to Death Row." "There were the demon rats ... their eyes filled with the Big M - Murder! ... The faster I ran, the more their yellow hatred grew..." The Merchant of Venice 1. How does Antonio feel as the scene opens? 2.What do we learn about Bassanio’s financial state? 3.Why can’t Antonio help Bassanio financially? 4. What is the final agreement between Shylock and Antonio?