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Instructor's Guide

The ORRT Instructor's Guide includes 10 engaging, activity-based lessons, organized into an three sections (Novels, Short Fiction, and Poetry) plus an introductory lesson. All lessons include vocabulary words, extension activities, and opportunities for differentiated learning (specialized approaches to instruction for students at various levels of skill and knowledge).

Below are the titles and descriptions of each of the lessons. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view each of the sections of the Ohio Reading Road Trip Instructor's Guide. You can download Acrobat Reader free from www.adobe.com.

Ohio Reading Road Trip

Lesson 1. Ohio's Literary Heritage
This lesson provides an overview of Ohio's important writers and their works, as well as Ohio's influence on American literature. Students will choose an author or work to investigate in depth.


Note: All of the novel-based lessons are designed to help students learn about the main elements of fiction: plot, setting, and character development.

Lesson 2. Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper
Based loosely on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, this contemporary novel explores gang violence and interracial dating in a Cincinnati high school. Students will investigate character development as it relates to plot. Also, because the book relies on straight-forward narrative as well as primary sources such as notes characters write to friends and a teacher, print-outs of on-line chats, and journal entries, students will investigate the many "languages" teenagers speak. Several opportunities for non-fiction and creative writing are part of this lesson as well.

Lesson 3. The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton
Hamilton's 1968 novel is set in early 20th century Ohio. When a family moves into an old house, they discover its many secrets - including its history as a station on the Underground Railroad. This lesson helps students develop strategies for more effectively reading aloud as well as independently. Students also will learn about the elements of mystery writing, read other mystery books, and write their own mystery story. Cross-curricular activities focus on the history of the Underground Railroad.

Lesson 4. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
This contemporary novel follows a Native American girl and her grandparents as they drive from their home in Ohio to Idaho, tracing a trip taken by the girl's mother. In this lesson, students will read and write extensively as they learn about flashback, expository vs. narrative writing, foreshadowing, and simile and metaphor. They also will develop effective reading strategies, learn to make inferences and predictions, and analyze character and conflict to identify the novel's theme.

Short Fiction

Lesson 5. "Death In The Woods" by Sherwood Anderson
In this story, an old man recalls an event from his childhood. Students will use their memories and knowledge of family stories to develop storytelling skills and learn about point of view, voice, and omniscient narration. They also will make inferences and draw conclusions as they read and think about the text. Extension activities provide cross-curricular opportunities in the areas of social studies, drama, and art, as well as creative and non-fiction writing.

Lesson 6. "Recitatif" by Toni Morrison
Morrison's short story traces the intersecting lives of two young women who meet in an orphanage at the age of eight and then three more times as they grow up. Students will begin by learning about the author, then focus on her work. Students will learn about making predictions, point of view, direct and indirect characterization, and visualization. They will also explore the historical events described in the book, especially court-ordered busing designed to end school segregation in the 1970s.

Lesson 7. Short stories and fables by James Thurber
Students will explore humor writing through a selection of stories, fables, and cartoons from The Thurber Carnival. In addition to reading Thurber's work, students will write their own humorous stories based on family experiences. They will also develop an understanding of the historical context for some of the stories. (For example, knowing what Columbus, Ohio, was like in 1913 will help them to more accurately visualize the events described in "The Day The Dam Broke").


Lesson 8. Modern Ohio Poets
Works by contemporary Ohio poets are used to teach students to explicate (interpret and explain their interpretation of) poems. The poems selected for this lesson are mostly free verse and center around the themes of "Ohio rivers" and "growing up". Poets featured in this lesson include Nikki Giovanni, William Matthews, Ann E. Michael, and Anthony Libby.

Lesson 9. Rita Dove
A selection of former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove's works include biographical poems from Thomas and Beulah, a collection of poetry that traces the lives of her grandparents. As they explicate these poems, students also will learn about biography, read and respond to non-fiction, and explore historical events such as the crash of the zeppelin The Akron and the northern migration of African-Americans in the early 1900s. Students will also engage with a selection of Dove's autobiographical poems that focus on lessons learned during childhood.

Lesson 10. Paul Laurence Dunbar
This lesson focuses on five of Dunbar's poems, including "We Wear the Mask" and "When Malindy Sings". Students will listen to dramatic readings of Dunbar's poems as they explicate these poems and explore their historical context and power.


  • Alignment with Standards
  • Ohio Graduation Test 6-point Rubric
  • Fresh Ideas for Poetry and Vocabulary
  • Relevant Literary Terms
  • Additional Activities to Teach Key Concepts
  • Persuasive and Narrative Writing
  • Novel, Short Fiction, and Poetry Glossaries
  • Explicating Poetry

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