Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Freedom and Restraint

Elements of Fiction

K20 Center, Sara Marin | Published: May 17th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course American Literature
  • Time Frame Time Frame 2-3 class period(s)
  • Duration More 150 minutes


In this lesson, students will read two texts that depict the role of women in American society during the 19th Century. Kate Chopin’s fictional, “The Story of an Hour,” and John H. Young’s, “Our Deportment, or the Manners, Conduct, and Dress of Refined Society,” will be used to analyze elements of short story fiction and compare depictions of the role of women and their expanding freedoms from the 19th Century until today.

Essential Question(s)

What is freedom? Can we be both free and confined ?



Students will complete a quick write focusing on a time they felt restricted by a situation or individual, followed by a Think-Pair-Share activity.


Students will read an excerpt from "Our Deportment, or the Manners, Conduct, and Dress of Refined Society" by John H. Young, and examine the roles of women during the 19th Century as described by the text.


Students will read the text of "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, and complete a plot graphic organizer.


Students will discuss the similarities and differences of gender roles in 19th Century society and today, using the texts they have read and their personal experiences as support for their answers.


Students will complete a tweet about the theme of "The Story of an Hour" using the Tweet Up strategy.


  • Text of "Our Deportment, or the Manners, Conduct, and Dress of Refined Society," (1881) by John H. Young.

  • Text of "The Story of an Hour," by Kate Chopin (found in the English III textbook or linked to from the resources)

  • "I Know, We Know" graphic organizer

  • Plot diagram graphic organizer

  • Discussion questions handout

  • Tweet handout

  • Pencils or pens


In a PowerPoint slide, or in some other way, display the questions: "Have you ever felt restricted or restrained by a person or a situation? What caused you to feel this way?" Students will complete a quick write answering these questions in approximately five minutes or less.

After students are finished with the quick write, they will find partners for the Think-Pair-Share activity. Partners will have four minutes to discuss times when they felt restricted by a situation or person, with each student speaking for half of the allotted time. Once the partners have shared their experiences, the teacher should open the discussion to the whole group and allow a few students to share their answers.

After students have shared out their responses, the teacher should prompt them to consider if anyone else shared similar experiences. The teacher should explain to students that, just as we have shared experiences with our peers, literature is often a reflection of life, and we can have shared experiences with the characters. Explain that the ideas of freedom and restraint are central to both texts that students will be reading.


With partners, students will read "Our Deportment, or the Manners, Conduct, and Dress of Refined Society," attached to this lesson. Students will read the text closely by using the Stop and Jot learning strategy. After each paragraph, students will write quick summaries of what they read, focusing on the expectations for women and men in a marriage, as outlined by the author.

Continuing with their partners, students will create summaries of the roles of women and men during the 19th Century, as defined in the reading. Students will record their answers in the chart provided at the bottom of the text.

As a class, students will share the different roles they identified. Display the following question for students to discuss as a whole class: Do we still have rules that dictate the roles and behaviors of husbands and wives (or even boyfriends and girlfriends)?


1. To activate prior knowledge about elements of fiction, students will use the I Think / We Think instructional strategy. First, students will individually complete the "I Think" column of the graphic organizer, writing down everything they can remember about plot, conflict, and theme. For this portion of the activity, students do not have to provide elaborate answers. This is simply an opportunity for students to individually reflect on prior learning, access that information, and write notes for a later discussion with their partners. Provide students about five minutes to complete this part of the activity.

After students have documented their individual answers, they will meet with their partners to share their notes. During this time, students will compare their responses and produce a final response to be documented in the "We Think" column of the graphic organizer. Partners should come to a consensus, record the definition of each term, more deeply break down both plot and conflict (the different parts of a story and the different types of conflict), and provide examples of each term based on past readings.

The teacher should have students share out responses for each term. The teacher should then review plot, conflict, and theme using the attached PowerPoint, and be sure to emphasize how all of these terms are connected in a short story.

2. The teacher should ask students to make predictions about the plot/conflict of the text. With the consideration that that the text was written in 1894, and that the main character is a married woman named Mrs. Mallard, ask students to identify the possible conflict of the story. Have a couple of students share out their predictions. As a whole group, begin reading "The Story of an Hour." While reading, periodically stop to check for student understanding.

3. After reading the text, the teacher should divide students into small groups. Students will work with their teammates to complete the plot diagram graphic organizer attached to this lesson as "The Story of an Hour Graphic Organizer." While students work, circle the room and clarify any misunderstandings for students.


As shown in the attached Lesson Slides, pose these essential questions to students: "What is freedom? Can we be both free and confined?" The teacher should provide a copy of the attached "Appointment Clock" handout to each student. Students will then write answers to the questions on the the handout.

  • How did the gender roles of the 19th Century drive the conflict in the story?

  • How are women today more free than in Kate Chopin’s time? While more freedoms exist for women, how are women still confined?

After students have answered their questions, they will use the Appointment Clocks strategy to discuss their answers with classmates. First, students will fill the clock with mutual appointments with classmates. Then, the teacher should announce a time, and students are to keep their designated appointments. This activity should continue until all appointments have been completed. Students will then share out their answers to the questions.


Students will write a theme statement for the text of "The Story of an Hour" using the Tweet Up strategy. Students should refer to their plot diagrams and discussion questions to help determine the theme of the story. After completing the tweets, students will share their answers with shoulder partners.