Activity Overview

The close-reading envelope assignment is a great way to get students from all levels to focus on important themes, ideas, and character developments within a novel. Storyboarding the results can help take this strategy to a whole new level!

Teachers should hand out an envelope to each student that is only identified by a number. Inside the envelope, there should be index cards and a slip of paper that tells the student what his or her assigned topic is. This topic will be the student’s responsibility to track and report throughout the course of the chosen novel. The student will write the quote or a summary of where the example of their topic appears, and then an explanation of how the quote or summary relates to the topic.

With Storyboard That, the students can keep track of their findings visually, too. For each topic, have students visually depict a scene of their chosen example from the novel, and underneath, explain how it relates to their topic. Some topics to consider using for A Thousand Splendid Suns include:

  • Examine how Mariam’s sense of self changes throughout the novel
  • Trace the treatment of women in Afghanistan throughout each of the regime changes
  • How does physiognomy play a role in character development?
  • Trace the theme of violence as it appears throughout the novel
  • Trace the themes of honor and pride as they appear throughout the novel
  • Examine the role of the importance of education in the novel

An example of an Envelope Assignment for half of A Thousand Splendid Suns is depicted in the example storyboard.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Complete an envelope analysis of A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Student Instructions:

  1. Identify scenes that fit with your assigned topic. Note their page numbers in the title box.
  2. Create an image for each scene using appropriate scenes, characters and items.
  3. Write a description of how the scene fits the topic.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/1] Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/9-10/1] Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence

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