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Inspiration software and a Smartboard are used in this lesson comparing/contrasting Elsie Wiesel’s “Night” and the Holocaust movie “Life is Beautiful”


Computers & Internet, Language Arts, Social Studies  



Title – Compare and Contrast “Night” to “Life is Beautiful”
By – Donald Freese
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies, Computers & Internet
Grade Level – 9th


This lesson is part of a unit on Holocaust literature with a focus on the novel Night by Elie Wiesel. Prior to this lesson, the students need to research the era, read the book, and watch the movie Life is Beautiful , which also deals with the Holocaust. The lesson for today is a compare/contrast paper focusing on the movie and the book.


      ELA HSCE 1.4.4: Students will be able to demonstrate the ability to interpret, synthesize and evaluate information by writing a compare/contrast paper for



Life is Beautiful


Learning Resources and Materials:

  • Students need a copy of the text as well as a copy of their notes from the movie.
  • Students also need note-taking materials.
  • The teacher needs a Smartboard with internet access, 30 copies of a graphic organizer (described below), 30 assignment sheets (descibed below) and Inspiration 9 software.

Development of Lesson:


        Bell Work:

        • Give students the first five to ten minutes of class to do a quick write-up about the movie. Have them complete the following statement:

          I liked Night better because…


          I liked Life is Beautiful better because…

        • During this time, the students write down their answers and then discuss them with their friends.

        Call to Action:

        • After the students have completed their writing and discussion, the teacher convenes the group for response sharing and to gauge how specific the students were in their answers.
        • If they did not give specific examples, work on that together.



For this lesson, I attempted a constructivist approach. I varied between large group and small group work for this cooperative learning day. The essential question is:

How can two completely different approaches lead to the same outcome?

      1. Complete the aforementioned bell work and class discussion.
      2. At the end of the discussion, divide students into groups of four and, whenever possible, include one high achiever, one low performing student and two students who perform somewhere in the middle. Have the groups fill out a graphic organizer that asks them to compare/contrast specific elements of the book and movie. Those elements include:
        • Tone
        • Characters
        • Message
        • Setting
        • Plot
        • Emotional Response.
      3. Give the groups fifteen to twenty minutes to complete the graphic organizer and then reconvene as a large group. Then ask each group to report all of the similarities they were able to find. As the groups report the information, the teacher will type it into the Inspiration Diagram . Then repeat the process using differences, but have the groups report in reverse order from the first time around.
      4. After the class lists are completed, ask each student to pick two similarities and two differences and write them down in their notes.
      5. Once everyone has finished, explain their assignment:

  • This assignment is due in one week.
  • For the assignment, you must take the similarities and differences you found and write a compare/contrast paper.
  • Class time will be given to complete the paper, but you are expected to do some work at home.
  • You may use up to three outside sources, but those sources must be cited using correct APA format.
  • The paper will examine if or how the book and the movie can evoke similar responses through different approaches.
  • Your paper must have a clear thesis statement. This statement must be approved by me before you begin writing the paper.

      1. If time allows, allot the remainder of the class time for pre-writing activities or thesis development.


      • Attempt to vary groups based on ability, mixing high performing and low performing students.
      • Allow EI, LD, and ELL students to simply compare and contrast without a thesis, or other accommodations as needed.


    • Count the informal assessment for the group work as a participation grade. Evaluate performance through class discussion and by meeting with individual groups during group work time.
    • Base the formal assessment for the paper on to what extent they meet the requirements of a compare/ contrast paper.
      • The elements will include:
        • proper thesis
        • relevant and accurate supporting evidence
        • proper use of transitions
        • organization
        • grammar and spelling.
      • The paper will count for 50 points.
      • How the students perform on the assessed paper assignment will indicate whether or not the expectation has been met.


    • Allow students to have five to ten minutes at the end of class to ask questions about the work from today and about the paper that will be due in a week.
    • Based on today‚Äôs lesson, the teacher should be able to determine the reading and writing levels of the students, their ability to work together as a group, and the amount of time which should be given to a project like this in the future.

E-Mail Donald Freese !

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