"Master Harold"... and the boys Lessons

The past five or so weeks my students have been studying the play "Master Harold"... and the boys (yes, the title is supposed to be written out like that, much to my chagrin) by Athol Fugard. As I did previously with The Catcher in the Rye, here are a few of the more high-interest lessons I did with my students that try to combine some Common Core-ish elements.

Visual Literacy (30 minutes)
To introduce the play and the Apartheid background I collected a dozen or so different pictures into a PowerPoint. For each picture I had the students discuss what was happening and how the picture would relate to the book. We then discussed each as a class and finished the lesson with the students writing a brief reflection in their notebooks. Next time I'll extend the lesson by having the students find their own picture and post it, along with a quick analysis, on the website we use for the class.

Skills: critical analysis, oral production, visual literacy

Understanding Stage Directions (50 minutes)
In order to examine the stage directions, and their importance, I brought in an episode of Friends (the one where Monica where's a turkey on her head to cheer up Chandler). Fun fact: the episode aired the year they were born. Sigh. We watched a three minute clip twice and I had the students write down everything the actors were doing- facial expressions, interactions with props, body language, etc... We discussed their findings and then watched a clip of the movie of the play, doing the same thing. Students were then asked to find stage directions in the text that they thought were critical. 

Skills: Observation/listening, note-taking, reading comprehension, discussion

Scene Presentations
One of our culminating activities were scene presentations. Students had to get into groups and write five-minute scenes that took a contemporary controversial issue and applied it to a friendship, just like race and The Apartheid did for Sam and Hally in the text. They had to use stage direction, props, proper play-writing formats, etc... in order to convey their message. They also had to each find an opinion article on the topic they chose and complete a series of writing activities to analyze it (annotation, SOAPSTone, and a rhetorical precis).

Skills: writing, acting, analysis, research, annotation 

Final Essay- Comparison
Students were tasked with finding another piece of writing, movie, TV show, painting, song, or poem to compare to the play. They had to find a specific thematic element, though, to focus on. They're not due until next week, but so far topics include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a Billy Joel song, Tupac's poetry, and the TV show Blackish. This should be entertaining, at least.

Skills: analytical writing, reading comprehension, compare/contrast

For those that haven't read it, I highly recommend it!



  1. I love Athol Fugard's work, and Master Harold is set in the city of my birth so I always feel a little fond of it. Great lesson plans, I would have loved an essay instruction like the Comparison one.

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