9th Grade ELA : Unit #11 - Fahrenheit 451: Burning Bright : Lesson #4

Building a Mirror Factory: Finishing Fahrenheit 451 and Contemplating the Message

Objective: SWBAT determine a theme 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 by synthesizing through discussion and writing the central ideas of Fahrenheit 451.
Standards: RL.9-10.2 RL.9-10.5 RL.9-10.9 W.9-10.2 W.9-10.2a W.9-10.2b SL.9-10.1
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Getting Started - 15 minutes

Before we begin reading today, we are going to try to connect more personally with the text. I will ask that students spend a minute thinking about someone in their life who has died. Then I will ask them to think about what they miss about the person.


This think time will connect to our reading today. In the first part of what we will read today, Granger explains he misses him grandfather, so that Montag understand why he doesn't miss Millie. Granger's grandfather did things: "He shaped the world. He did things to the world." The people in Montag's life didn't do anything and they leave nothing behind. It's an interesting concept that we can discuss with more purpose after having thought about it in a personal way. And it will help us understand the theme of the text (RL.9-10.2).

2 Read: A Mirror Factory - 20 minutes

Today we will finish the novel together. We will focus on these parts of the reading and these questions:


  • Remembering: Montag finally remembers where he met Mildred and he starts to remember sections of The Book of Ecclesiastes. Why can he remember now, in the woods? (RL.9-10.9)
  • The concept of "being" a book: Each of these men identify as a particular book and are responsible for representing it. They are a piece of history. How would that make you feel?
  • Not being important: It might make someone feel important to be responsible for The Republic or Walden, but Granger makes it clear to Montag that they are not important. Why aren't they important if they have vital information? What is Granger trying to convey? (RL.9-10.2)
  • Rebuilding the city by building a mirror factory: Before anything can be done, Granger says that everyone has to look in a mirror for a year. He wants people to truly evaluate themselves. This image brings us back to the beginning of the text, when Montag describes looking at Clarisse like looking in a mirror. Self-reflection is essential (RL.9-10.2).


I like finishing a novel all together. I feel like it gives closure to something, so I try to schedule the last 5-10 pages for in class reading. What did my students think of this novel? Take a look.

3 Final Assignment - 20 minutes

We will spend 20 minutes talking about and reading through all the essays options students can select as their final assessment for Fahrenheit 451. There are 6 prompts, 5 of which are from The Big Read, and 1 that is mine (the last one). We will read the directions together, and then talk through each prompt, one at a time, so that everyone understands what the question asks and so that students can start sharing some ideas and maybe spread some inspiration. I will encourage students to jot down notes as we talk, so that they can ruminate over them later and create a masterpiece in the end (W.9-10.5). For this essay, students will write a primary argument, then support it with textual evidence (W.9-10.2, W.9-10.2a, W.9-10.2b).


This is the last essay students will write for 9th grade English, and as such, the students will write this essay at home with minimal guidance for me. I want to see how well they do without guidance, and to see how they have synthesized the informational essay writing skills we have practiced throughout the year. I'm excited to give them choices for this final assignment because I am confident that they are ready to write an essay like this, with relatively little teacher-led preparation. I want them to pick the prompt that inspires them, which I will tell them. I want to hear their voices in this essay, to know that they are responding to the text and have something to say.

Proud Teach
Essay Writing

It's Friday afternoon. Let me rephrase: it's our last Friday afternoon together. It's hot.. 90 degrees outside and even hotter in my sun-baked classroom. And yet, despite the obstacles, we had a meaningful conversation about the novel and their last essay. I'm just so impressed. This class has come so far. In September, more than a few of these freshmen handed in full essays with minimal punctuation-- sentences would span 10 lines, commas were a optional, and possession was a foreign entity. Our discussions paralleled their writing: minimal and lacking reflection. But today, they asked questions and made notes on the page without prompting. So much can change in a few short months. Please don't get me wrong: I'm not magician. These essays will still have too many run-on sentences and too few marks of possession, but they will be better, just like our discussion was better today.