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Comparing and contrasting truth-themed novels is the focus of this lesson


Language Arts  



Title – A Question of Truth
By – Barbara A. Lord
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 9
Time: 6-9 weeks

Concept/Topic to Teach:

      This lesson teaches critical thinking through the comparison/contrast of the two novels,

Nothing But the Truth

      by Avi and


      by Walter Dean Myers.

Standards addressed:

      North Carolina Competency Goals 3 and 4

      Bloom’s Taxonomy

Specific Objectives:

  1. Learn vocabulary
  2. Read and comprehend the plots of the two novels
  3. Examine the two protagonists, Steve Harmon and Phillip Malloy and complete a Venn Diagram
  4. Evaluate the themes of the two novels
  5. Evaluate the authors’ styles of writing and the effect on theme
  6. Participate in a Paideia Seminar
  7. Write a persuasive essay

Required Materials:

  1. copies of the two novels
  2. graphic organizer for the Venn Diagram

Lead In:

    Open with a general discussion surrounding telling the truth. Ask students to relate personal experiences about times when they discovered that people were not truthful. Ask them if they have ever lied and what consequences they suffered.


  • Begin with lead-in
  • Introduce Monster by asking students to relate what they know about the legal system
  • Introduce vocabulary
  • Read and discuss the novel in class. In particular, discuss Meyer’s style of presenting the story as Steve’s movie script.
  • Give study guide questions (Bloom’s knowledge and comprehension levels) to ensure understanding.
  • Discuss the ending. Is Steve guilty? Students should refer to the text for support.
  • Begin Nothing But the Truth by discussing school and teachers. What makes a good teacher?
  • Follow the same plan as Monster.
  • At the conclusion of the two novels, have students create a Venn Diagram comparing Steve and Phillip.
  • Discuss the author’s style of writing. Is it effective?
  • Conduct a Paideia Seminar asking the following questions: “What truth does Avi want the reader to get from the novel? Is the title ironic? Does Myers want the reader to discover the same truth as Avi? What is ‘truth’? Is there just one definition?”
  • Choose one of the following activities to end the unit:(a) Write a persuasive essay stating whether Steve or Phillip is guilty or innocent. (b) Write a play about truth. (c) Conduct a class trial to find either Steve or Phillip guilty or innocent.
  • Assessment may include vocabulary or comprehension quizzes. A rubric could be created to evaluate the essay, play or trial. Participation in the seminar could be evaluated.

E-Mail Barbara A. Lord !

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