Bonnie Waltz, Deanna Mayers, Tracy Rains
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
9, 10, 11, 12
  • Analyzing Fiction
  • Foreshadowing
  • Setting
  • Symbolism
  • Theme
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, Interactive, Text/HTML, Video

    From Fiction to Facts of Life

    From Fiction to Facts of Life


    Fiction is untrue, but it can be an honest reflection of real life. In this seminar, you will make clear connections between the lives of characters in fiction to the lives of people in the real world. This will require a skill called abstracting in which you find patterns in one area and apply them to a new situation. It will also give you the opportunity to reflect on how fake worlds of literature can help resolve your own personal issues that you face currently and in the future.


    CC.1.3.9-10.C - Analyze how complex characters develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

    CC.1.3.9-10.E - Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it and manipulate time create an effect.

    CC.1.3.9-10.H - Analyze how an author draws on and transforms themes, topics, character types, and/or other text elements from source material in a specific work.


    Introductory warm-up activity.

    Listen (and read the lyrics to) this song. Listen a second time if you need to. As you listen, take note of lyrics referring to weather or seasons. Also, take note of the physical setting of the two characters (“she” and “he”). Think about the conflict of this fictionalized story and how it might reflect an actual event.


    Explore the resources to learn about fiction / facts. You can pick and choose to read, watch, then do the practice activity listed.  


    Read a short story called “The Brothers” by Louisa May Alcott, which is based during the American Civil War. In the story, notice how the characters deal with conflict during an actual event in history.

    Watch this video based on the story “Terrible Things,” an allegory for the Holocaust. The video will show direct correlation between fiction and reality (World War II).

    Complete this Quizlet that contains necessary literary terms for understanding how literature reflects life.



    Discuss your ideas / opinions / understandings.


    Participate in a Socratic seminar (if possible) or a face-to-face discussion in which you use the concept vocabulary to make connections between literature and real life. For example, characterization applies not only to literary characters but also the people we meet on a regular basis. Be sure to discuss all of the terms fluently, exchanging ideas about the connections to fictional and factual life. Here is the main question to consider: How does fiction reflect real life?


    Now it is time to self check how much you have learned fiction.  If you do not know as much as you thought, go back to the “Explore” section of this seminar and reread, rewatch, or redo the activities listed.  See your facilitator if you have questions.

    Click here to take the quiz online. You do not have to log into the quiz site in order to take this quiz. If a window pops up asking you to sign up for the quiz site, just close the sign-up window and start your quiz.


    This is a task or project where you can show what you know


    Read the short story “A Dark Brown Dog” by Stephen Crane. Then read this article about Jim Crow laws and slavery. Find parallels between Crane’s story and the real-life events of the late 1800s.


    Complete this wrap-up activity where you reflect on your learning.  

    Consider the following questions about your learning during this seminar: Which literary terms were new or a bit unfamiliar to you and how well do you grasp them now? Which of the stories is most memorable to you and why? How can the idea of applying literature to life also apply to other fictional mediums, such as movies, plays, or fictitious TV programs? What is something that you’re still wondering about or unclear about regarding fiction-to-life? If nothing, reflect on when that moment clicked for you, moving you toward clarity.