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Activity Overview


Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify themes and symbols from the novel, and support their choices with details from the text.


The Westing Game Themes to Look For and Discuss

Friendship

The real purpose of the Westing game is not the inheritance, but the relationships that the game creates and strengthens. Westing seems to choose the pairs that will bring out the best in each other. Denton brings Chris medical support, Flora and Turtle provide each other with much-needed love, Grace helps James make his restaurant successful, and Jake helps Sunny speak English and adjust to life in America.The rest of the heirs enjoy similar benefits. In the end, most of the heirs do not receive millions from Westing, but they do build lifelong friendships.


Forgiveness and Making Amends

In his younger days, Sam Westing made a lot of mistakes: he spoke unkindly to his servants, stole James Hoo’s invention, and drove his daughter to suicide. Through his will, he tries to fix these mistakes and return happiness to the people he affected. He gives them excitement, hope, and friendship, in addition to $5,000 and a share in Sunset Towers.


The Westing Game Symbols and Motifs

Patriotism

Sam Westing feels great patriotism for America. He wears the clothes of Uncle Sam in his coffin, uses clues from “America the Beautiful”, and sets off fireworks on the Fourth of July. His obvious patriotism blends nicely with the rest of the characters. The residents of Sunset Towers come from many different financial and ethnic backgrounds. Their friendship represents the melting pot of America’s immigrant nation.


Chess

Sam Westing’s love for chess is woven throughout the story. We learn that he used to play with Judge Ford years ago and would beat her by sacrificing his queen. In a way, the “Westing game” is like a giant game of chess. At the end, Crow (Westing’s queen) is sacrificed to distract from the main point of the game. The chess connection is passed on when Westing teaches Turtle, who later teaches Alice.


Sydelle’s Crutches

At the beginning of the story, Sydelle Pulaski has no need of crutches. However, she uses brightly decorated crutches and feigns injury to draw attention to herself and win sympathy. The crutches are a symbol of her insecurity and weakness. Many other characters have their own crutch that they hide behind: Turtle’s is her braid, Angela’s is her pretty face, Grace’s is Angela, Mr. Hoo’s is food, Theo’s is Chris, etc.


Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-8

Difficulty Level 5 (Advanced / Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group

Type of Activity: Themes, Symbols & Motifs

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/5] Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/7/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/7/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts


Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in The Westing Game. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from The Westing Game you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for examples that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.



Rubric

(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)



Themes, Symbols, and Motifs (Grades 9-12)
Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes, symbols, and/or motifs in the story. Illustrate instances of each and write a short description that explains the example's significance.
Proficient Emerging Beginning Needs Improvement
Identification of Theme(s), Symbol(s), and/or Motif(s)
All themes are correctly identified as important recurring topics or messages in the story. Symbols are correctly identified as objects that represent something else at a higher level in the story. Motifs are correctly identified as important recurring features or ideas in the story.
Most themes are correctly identified, but others are missing or incomplete. Most symbols are correctly identified, but some objects are missing or incomplete. Some motifs are correctly identified, but others are missing or incomplete.
Most themes are missing, incomplete, or incorrect. Most symbols are missing, incomplete, or incorrect. Most motifs are missing, incomplete, or incorrect.
No themes, symbols, or motifs are correctly identified.
Examples and Descriptions
Quotes and examples are accurate to the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) that are being identified. Descriptions accurately explain the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) and highlight their significance to the story.
Most quotes and examples are accurate to the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motifs that are being identified. Descriptions mostly accurately explain the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s), and highlight their significance to the story.
Most quotes and examples are minimal, incorrect, or unrelated to the theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) that are being identified. Descriptions contain inaccuracies in their explanations, or do not highlight their significance to the story.
Examples and descriptions are missing or too minimal to score.
Depiction
Depictions chosen for theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) are accurate to the story and reflect time, effort, thought, and care with regard to placement and creation of the scenes.
Depictions chosen for theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) are mostly accurate to the story. They reflect time and effort put into placement and creation of the scenes.
Depictions chosen for theme(s), symbol(s), and/or motif(s) are inaccurate to the story. The depictions may be rushed or show minimal effort, time, and care put into placement and creation of the scenes.
Most depictions are missing too many elements or are too minimal to score. Little time or effort has been put into placement and creation of the scenes.
English Conventions
There are no errors in spelling, grammar, or mechanics throughout the storyboard. All writing portions reflect careful proofreading and accuracy to the story.
There are a few errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics throughout the storyboard. All writing portions show accuracy to the story and some proofreading.
There are several errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics throughout the storyboard. Most writing portions do not reflect proofreading or accuracy to the story.
Errors in spelling, grammar, and mechanics in writing portions of the storyboard seriously interfere with communication.




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