Teaching Sensory Details in Bradbury's "The Pedestrian"
Bob turned in this descriptive essay last year:
The tree was cool and the rain was wet. I saw an awesome dog. It barked loudly. It sounded like a dog barking or maybe a dog yelping. I saw a pretty cat. It meowed. It sounded like a cat's meow...
Susan turned in this one:
My pony is pretty. My house is big. It's as big as a house. It's gigantic. My room is upstairs. It looks like a room. It is really neat...
After reading 345 essays similar to the ones above, I stole a corkscrew from the teacher's lounge and commenced corkscrewing my eyelid. Right before penetrating my cornea, Mr. Taglugadug ran in, knocked the corkscrew out of my hand, and handed me a lesson plan on using sensory details. He recommended teaching "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury as a model. This worked out better than having my eye drilled by a corkscrew.
If you're not familiar with Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, check out this summary of the novel to give you a better understanding of "The Pedestrian."
- Discuss descriptive writing: Description is the process a writer uses to create a picture with words. Good descriptions appeal to the five senses--sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Description relies on vivid and precise language.
- Discuss figurative language.
- Make a chart:
- Label the chart "Sensory Details."
- Make two columns: Label the top of the first column "Phrase or Sentence"; label the second column "Sense(s) Appealed To."
- Make at least 5 rows.
- As you read, or after you read, cite examples of sensory details in the left column. In the right column, write down the senses appealed to.
- Assign a paragraph or an essay analyzing the description. Students should make specific citations and analyze the effect of the description or interpret the author's purpose in using sensory details.
- Instruct students to reread a previously written descriptive essay or paragraph and circle portions where the description is weak.
- Instruct students to use sensory details to make the description better.
Teaching Setting in "The Pedestrian"
Students easily rattle off the standard definition for setting, time and place. Few, however, recognize its importance. Help students recognize the importance of setting in "The Pedestrian" by creating a citizen profile for the average citizen in Leonard Mead's world.
- Brainstorm as a class probable characteristics for a citizen in 2053, according to Bradbury. For example, he or she ignores the environment, watches TV constantly, does not know the neighbors, and never goes on vacation.
- Write the words "Profile of Citizen of 2053" in the center of the board and circle it.
- Draw three lines extending from the circle.
- Write a characteristic of a common citizen of 2053 next to each line, with a specific passage from the story to support it.
- Write a paragraph profile.