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English Lesson Plan     Science Lesson Plan

Boggart and Fear

in Harry Potter

Learning Outcomes     Background Information    Vocabulary    Materials

Lesson 1    Lesson 2    Evaluations    Extension    Standards

Grade Level: 7th-10th grades

Time Needed: Two 40-minute class periods

Description: Students examine two text selections that feature a boggart—a shape-shifter that turns into whatever one fears most—from Harry Potter books 3 and 5, Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix, respectively. In Lesson 1, students interpret and evaluate the two excerpts to consider the symbolic value of the boggart, its connection to character development, and similarities between the text and their own lives. In Lesson 2, students use their literary analyses from Lesson 1 and engage in a writing workshop to produce short essays. Students prepare drafts, obtain feedback from their peers, consider the feedback, and then rewrite the draft to produce final essays.

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Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate close reading and comprehension skills.
  • Compare and contrast characters.
  • Draw inferences about the characters and the author's intent based on the text.
  • Identify critical details in the text and apply them in literary analysis to develop new insights or ideas.
  • Build connections between fictional events and the reality of their own lives.
  • Use spoken, written, and visual language to communicate their ideas effectively.
  • Practice different stages of the writing process—brain storming, focusing on a topic, and making connections between fiction and real world.

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Background Information

The “boggart” in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series frightens the fictional characters—witches and wizards in this case—by turning into what each character fears most. The boggart reveals some of the characters' fears, which readers can examine the relationships between fear and monsters, and further consider how fear may affect the characters' as well as the readers' behavior.

The following are web sites that provide annotated lists of characters and events from the Harry Potter series that may be useful for gathering additional data or materials for classroom activities:

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The following words may be introduced/incorporated into the lessons.

  • fear, literary analysis, thesis, essay, draft, boggart, werewolf, dementor, banshee, and other terms or characters unique to the Harry Potter series, such as Muggles.

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  • Excerpt 1 is from Chapter 9 in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which starts from “Harry tiptoed up the stairs in the hall…”, and ends with “All the t-t-time! I d-d-dream about it…”
  • Excerpt 2 is from Chapter 7 in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which starts from “Neville's face went, if possible, even redder.”, and ends with “A piece of homework that only got nine out of ten?”
  • (Optional) DVD or VHS version of the movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, cued to the corresponding the Excerpt 2, and a monitor with DVD or VHS player
  • Student handouts (MSWord files in 97-2003 version can be downloaded and modified.):
  • Notes for teachers for the handouts: Teacher's Boggart Chart (PDF), Teacher's Boggart Chart Questions (PDF)
  • Overhead projector for transparencies or a classroom computer to provide students with both auditory and visual stimuli wherever possible—e.g., use overhead transparency of the excerpt during a read-aloud
  • Paper and pen/pencils

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Lesson 1 Procedures

  1. Conduct a brief survey of the students' prior knowledge of the Harry Potter series—either in reading the books or watching the movies. The survey can also serve to provide all students with some basic information about the series—e.g., What is the story about? Who are the protagonists? Which literary genre(s) is represented by the series? (detective novels, boarding school narratives, adventure stories, quest tales, and fantasy novels)
  2. Display the following questions for all students to see.
    • Who are the characters?
    • What happens?
    • What are some key details?
  3. Ask students to take notes that address these questions as they listen closely to your reading aloud the scene from Excerpt 1. (Mrs. Weasley's encounter with a boggart in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.)
  4. Have a couple of students answer each question using their notes from the read-aloud. Guide the discussion to include key details, such as what a boggart is and does, what Mrs. Weasley fears most and why, and what charm defeats the boggart.
  5. Distribute a copy of the Boggart Chart (PDF, MSWord) handout to each student, and fill out the first row using Mrs. Weasley's case as a class. See Teacher's Boggart Chart (PDF), for suggested discussion guide.
  6. (Optional) Show students the scene from the movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Professor Lupin is teaching students about boggarts in the Defense Against the Dark Arts class.
  7. Have students work in pairs to read Excerpt 2 (Lupin uses a boggart to teach students what it does and how to use a charm to defeat it.) in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and complete the Boggart Chart (PDF, MSWord) based on the text.

    [Note: If there aren't enough copies of the book available, you may read aloud the excerpt while the students complete the Boggart Chart.]
  8. Conduct a discussion based on students' completed Boggart Chart (PDF, MSWord). See Teacher's Boggart Chart (PDF) for suggested discussion guide.
  9. Display the Boggart Chart Questions (PDF, MSWord) transparency for the class and distribute a copy to each student.
  10. Pair students to work together to answer the five questions on the handout then have student pairs share their responses.
  11. Lesson 1 Evaluation: Collect both handouts for assessment of students' understanding of the text and analysis of how characters deal with a boggart—i.e., their fears.

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Lesson 2 Procedures

  1. Return to students their Boggart Chart (PDF, MSWord) and Boggart Chart Questions (PDF, MSWord) handouts completed in Lesson 1.
  2. Summarize the discussions from Lesson 1 by reviewing both handouts briefly as a class.
  3. Distribute a copy of Boggart Essay Draft (PDF, MSWord) handout to each student, and read aloud the instruction on the top of the handout.
  4. Have students work on their draft for 10-15 minutes, then ask them to exchange their draft essay with another student.
  5. Ask students to read the other student's draft essay and mark the sections that represent the following:
    • underline their favorite sentence
    • circle the sentence that includes an idea they want to know more about
    • draw a squiggly box around a sentence that may be true in real life
  6. Have a couple of students volunteer to write on the board or to share verbally the three categories of sentences from their peers' writing. Allow other students to share similar or different choices they have made.
  7. Guide a discussion on the sentences on the board and help students consider where the ideas come from—e.g., their own experiences. Promote discussions about how fear may develop, ways in which a fear is fed and strengthened, how a fear may be overcome, etc.
  8. Distribute the Boggart Essay Final (PDF, MSWord) handout to students, and allow time for them to revise and finalize their essays.
  9. Lesson 2 Evaluation: Collect the finished essays and use the guidelines on the handout for evaluation.

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Students' completed handouts and classroom discussions are designed to provide teachers a way to assess students' comprehension, communication, and literary analysis skills. The culminating evaluations for Lesson 1 and 2 are specified in step 11 and step 9, respectively.

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  1. Provide students with the following web links where students can learn about historical elements incorporated in the Harry Potter series.
  2. Have students select one or more characters/creatures that appear both in Harry Potter and in historical accounts based on the Harry Potter's World online exhibition.
  3. Have students conduct additional research (3 additional sources), prepare a bibliography, and create a poster that informs others about the historical depiction and understanding of the character/creature. Provide students with the following guidelines for creating a poster:
    • The presentation of the chosen character/creature includes
      • identification
      • key concept(s) or action(s) of the chosen character/creature
      • associated time period(s) or geography, and
      • common practices or concerns of that time period and place.
    • The bibliography is attached to each poster.
    • All text is free of spelling errors.
    • The graphics are used to support the content on the poster.
  4. Hold a poster presentation session where students show and view the posters and engage in discussions.

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Education Standards

Language Arts (NCTE / IRA Standards for the English Language Arts):

  1. Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  4. (Extension Activity) Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  5. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

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