Monsters Are Out There

Unit 4: Monsters Are Out There

Anchor Text: The Metamorphosis

  • Purpose: The Metamorphosis was written in 1915 by Franz Kafka, and is highly engaging to the Osborne High School student for many reasons. This text raises questions about familial relationships, what defines a monster, and the isolation that anyone is capable of feeling. Because Gregor’s transformation is never explained or even fully described, students will find their curiosity piqued, and the story will hold their interest as it raises questions about what Gregor has become and why. This text will be used as part of our “Monsters Are Out There” unit.
  • Lexile: 1340


Supplementary Texts:

  • Monster Quest
  • Mermaids: The Body Found
  • Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein
  • Monsters Inc.
  • Sesame Street
  • “Jabberwocky”
  • “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • “What Makes a Monster” by Donald Fergus
  • Myths Encyclopedia entry on Monsters
  • Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”
  • “Insects” from Prentice Hall Biology
  • “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • “Survival in Auschwitz” by Primo Levi

Strategy Toolbox:

  • Pre-reading activities:
    • Circle Map to define what a monster means, investigate prior knowledge
    • Evaluating scholarly sources activity
    • Photo/Artwork viewings of “monsters,” student-written definitions of monsters
  • During reading activities:
    • Incredible Shrinking Summary
    • Thinking maps to define/explain characters
    • Cubing
    • Note-taking / highlighting strategies
    • “Telephone” game
  • Post-reading activities:
    • Make-a-Monster writing project
    • Monster Definitions
    • Summary/Review activities
    • What makes a monster?

Writing Prompt:


Gregor, Frankenstein, The Headless Horseman, and Elmo are all familiar monsters. But what makes them a monster? What defines a monster? For this project, you will create your own monster. To do so, you must consider the following:

  • What qualities define a monster? List five things that make a monster a monster, and explain each. For example, if you say all monsters must be evil, you should give reasons and examples for why you think that. If you say all monsters must be hairy, you should defend that with a logical reason.
  • What does your monster look like? What is your monster’s personality? Write a paragraph to describe each.
  • Tell a brief story about your monster. In about three paragraphs, write a “legend” for your monster that tells its history, how it came to be, or the sorts of monstrous things it does.

To create our monsters, we are going to design and make them out of paper. You will need to draw your monster on a sheet of paper and cut out two copies. The first you will color and decorate to look like your vision of a monster. The second will form the back of your monster. Between these two sheets, you will staple the typed, proofread, and edited writings you did above. We will hang these monsters on the walls of our classroom and in the hallway, so make sure they are something you want to show off! You will be graded according to the argumentative writing rubric for 25% of your grade (the definitions of a monster and explanations of your monster’s look and personality), the expository rubric for 25% (the story), and by your creativity and the physical monster you create for the other 50%.

Argumentative: Is Gregor/Bigfoot/Frankenstein a monster?

Throughout this unit, we have talked over and over again about what it means to be a monster. For your argumentative essay, I would like you to choose one of the “monsters” we have studied, and determine whether or not they are truly monstrous. You may choose any of the monsters we have considered in class: Gregor from The Metamorphosis, The Headless Horseman, the mermaid, Frankenstein, and so forth. In a well-organized essay, you should argue whether or not the character you have chosen is truly a monster. In your essay, you should consider the following:

  • What makes a monster? We have defined “monster” several times and in several ways throughout the unit. Which of these is most accurate and why?
  • Does your character fit the qualifications to be a monster? Why or why not?
  • Is this character generally considered to be a monster? Do other sources argue on the other side? What are those arguments? Why are those people wrong?

Your essay will need to meet the following criteria:

  • At least 750 words long, and must include all the parts of an essay we have practiced in class (a hook, thesis, logos/pathos/ethos argument, a counterargument, etc.)
  • MLA format
  • Proper grammar and conventions
  • Stylistically engaging. Remember, I have a hundred essays to read. Make it entertaining for me!

You should address all of the above criteria in your essay. You will be graded based on the argumentative rubric that we have used in class. If you need a copy of the rubric, you can find it online at the class blog. If you have any questions, please see me before or after class. Good luck!

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