Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Ichabod and Brom: Two Wild and Crazy Guys

Characters' Differing Perspectives

Margaret Salesky, Lindsey Link | Published: August 4th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course American Literature
  • Time Frame Time Frame 150 minutes
  • Duration More 2-3 class periods


In this lesson, students explore the idea of superstitions and ghost stories and how they affect people and their emotions and behaviors. Students read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving and examine how the two main characters react to and are affected by the legend of the headless horseman.

Essential Question(s)

How does perspective affect meaning? 



Students engage in a modified Four Corners activity to identify familiar and unfamiliar superstitions.


Students each read a portion of the article "The History Behind OU’s Ghost Stories" and discuss what they read in a Jigsaw activity.


Students read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and complete a Venn diagram about Ichabod and Brom.


Students plan arguments for how they would likely respond if they encountered the ghosts that they read about during the Explore activity, more like Ichabod or more like Brom.


Students participate in a Philosophical Chairs discussion to present their opinions.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Superstition Posters (attached, one set)

  • Compare and Contrast handouts (attached, one per student)

  • Philosophical Chairs Planning Guide (attached, one per student)

  • Sticky notes (two colors)

  • Highlighters (two for each student)


Display slide 2 and inform students that today they will be reading "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and discussing superstitions. Share the guiding questions on slide 3.

Display slide 4. Using two different colored pads of sticky notes, distribute one note of each color to every student. Ask students to write their names at the top of both notes.

Students will be participating in a modified Four Corners activity. Tell them that around the room they will find posters that represent common superstitions. Designate one color of sticky note on which students should list the superstitions that are familiar to them. On the other sticky note, they should list the superstitions that are unfamiliar.

When students are finished viewing the posters, review the superstitions using slides 5-10 and ask students to share whether they were or weren't familiar with each one.

Display slides 11 and 12 and share the essential question and learning objectives for this lesson.


Display slide 13 and tell students that they will engage in a Jigsaw activity to learn about some of the ghosts reported to haunt the University of Oklahoma campus.

Split students into groups of three and have each group member choose one of the three sections of the article "The History Behind OU's Ghost Stories" about ghosts that have been said to haunt different parts of the campus to read individually. After students read their individual sections, they will take turns sharing the ghost story that they read about with their group.


Display slide 14 and inform students that they will now read the story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Explain how students will use Categorical Highlighting to annotate the story. As they read, they should highlight details about Ichabod and Brom, the two main characters, using two different highlighter colors.

Display slide 15 and pass out copies of the Compare and Contrast handout. Students will work with a partner and use their annotated text as a guide to complete the Venn diagram to compare Ichabod and Brom's similarities and differences. Display slide 16 to give students some additional guidance for how to complete their diagrams.

Before moving on to the next activity, engage in a whole-class discussion to make sure that each student has enough information documented about Ichabod and Brom.


Display slide 17 and inform students that they will plan arguments for a Philosophical Chairs activity to answer the following question:

If you were walking around the OU campus late at night and came across one of the haunted buildings, would you react more like Ichabod or more like Brom?

Display slide 18 and pass out copies of the Philosophical Chairs Planning Document. Instruct students to use text-based evidence to support three reasons for how they might respond to each of the myths.


Inform students that it is time to participate in the Philosophical Chairs discussion. Review the rules of engagement on slide 19. Students will evaluate a number of ideas in relation to their chosen character, Ichabod or Brom. Students will imagine themselves being on the OU campus at night and describe how they might respond to a ghost and how they feel about superstitions in their real lives.

Students from either side will take turns sharing out their beliefs, remembering to use agreement and disagreement statements (for example, "I agree, because..." or "I can see that, but I feel _____."). Remind them to refer to their planning page from the Extend activity, as that has their reasons and text-based evidence already organized for them. Also, remind them to support you as the mediator by maintaining order and helping the discussion to progress.

Make sure students know that they are free to switch sides at any time if their opinions shift during the discussion. When this happens, they will be asked to explain their reasoning.

Facilitate the discussion by making sure it switches back and forth from one side to the other and giving all students an opportunity to share their opinions.