A lesson plan for The Wave


Achievement Objectives


Student outcomes...

  • Students will read and understand the novel The Wave

  • Students will investigate, analyse and think critically about theme, character, plot and setting from the novel in detail.

  • Students will describe, discuss, explain and interpret essay questions in order to show their knowledge of the novel.


Pre reading...


Opinionnaire...which could lead to neutral chair depending on behaviour.


Obviously our novel has something to do with choosing whether to be part of a group or whether to be an individual... Individuality vs being part of a group, which is more important?  Does school create individuals or people who want to fit in to a group? Think back to a time when you were part of a group...how does it feel? Why might this make people want to form groups and be part of a group?


The book is called The Wave...what do waves mean to you? What do waves symbolize? Look at the cover and predict what the book may be about.  The idea is that we will come back to this and how their understanding of a wave as a symbol may have changed since they read the book.


Students are to begin reading straight away so that they have no preconceptions...


During reading


The Wave will be read aloud in class to begin with and then discussion of how students which to continue will occur may split here into reading together versus reading alone...students will be set a reading target, it is a short book so it should be read in about two weeks.  They will do this for Wide Reading lessons as well as they can use this novel for Wide Reading.


Chapter Summaries will be done as we go.  The first few chapters of the book will be read in class and this will give time to demonstrate the chapter summaries. They should just be 4 or 5 bullet points for each.



Post Reading


Post reading questions

Answer these questions after finishing the novel.  Write at least a couple of lines for each:


1) Why do Laurie and David go to the big rally?

2) Why does Mrs Ross show a picture of Hitler at the rally?

3) Why does Mrs Ross say it was good that David and Laurie didn’t believe him?

4) Why does Robert cry?


5) Write a paragraph about why you agree/disagree with this statement.  Back up your answer with details/quotes from the novel...Mr Ross was a good teacher.


6) Make a pros and cons list with the positives of The Wave on one side and the negatives of The Wave on the other.


Individual thinking...pair share...class discussion:


If you were at the same high school as Laurie and David etc do you think that you would have become part of The Wave? Why/ why not?

Do you think that The Wave could happen at your school? Why/why not?


Individual write a paragraph on this in their notes.


What was the most interesting event/part of the novel in your opinion? In my opinion I would or would not recommend this novel to other year 11 students to study? Why/why not? Explain to students that an essay could come up where they are required to say their opinion of the novel and they need to be able to justify their position



What do we know about Nazi Germany and the killing of more than 6 million Jewish people and others?...brainstorm (at the same time run prejudice exercise and see if they cotton on to what you are doing)  Then run brainstorm properly. Handing out sheet after 5 minutes for them to read and include key details on sheet.



Setting- make notes on...


Physical Setting

So we have seen that it can happen and it has happened in history....why has the author chosen to set The Wave in a high school? Could it be any high school? Why might he be doing this?


What notes can we make on the setting?


Would The Wave have worked as well in the holidays?

The climate of a school where there is an impressionable audience meant that The Wave succeeded.

Did Ben Ross make a difference, what if a despised teacher had tried to establish The Wave?

Refocus on chapter one setting is a typical school...

  • Students bolt from the class but then straggle into their next lesson

  • Students don’t feel compelled to do homework, and hand in the minimum needed

The class is mixed, all kinds of marks are given out.

Social Setting


Brainstorm on the board

The different stereotypes of kids at school nerds/brainiacs/losers/jocks/cools. Are these groups present at your school? What are their characteristics, why do we have groups like that? Are the groups at your school similar to the groups at Gordon High?


Are groups a good thing? Debate- - have half the class take positive p.o.v and the other half of the class take negative p.o.v.


Character...group work... need to make notes on the following... 8 groups making notes on 4 characters...in the end will make OHT notes for others to copy down.


  • Physical appearance

  • What they’re like before The Wave

  • What The Wave means to them

  • Key actions

  • What others think of them

  • How they change/what they learn because of The Wave



Ben Ross: Teacher who starts the experiment, intelligent young, passionate


Laurie Sanders: brain in school editor of the school newspaper, The Grapevine, girlfriend of David,


David Collins: captain of the football team, popular, dedicated to the Wave


Robert Billings: class loser who becomes someone with the Wave.


Discuss after character notes are made...

Different students support The Wave for different reasons.


David likes the movement because he sees how it may be good for lifting the game of his football team if they are all motivated

Robert wants to be a member of The Wave because he won’t be the class loser any more, joining the group gives his acceptance, out of the shadow of his successful elder brother.


Amy likes The Wave because it releases her from competing with Laurie every day, she wants to be seen as an individual and at first being out of Laurie’s shadow doe this for her, however she can not be an individual within the equality of The Wave either.


Many students are fascinated by the feeling of togetherness and are curious of The Wave


Now give students time to be focussed their choice tasks from The Wave sheet




Pose question to the class...what is Todd Strasser teaching us? What is his theme/his message/his main idea –explain that in the exam theme/idea/message mean the same thing.


We must learn to question and think for ourselves


The popular thing is not always the right thing


It could happen again  ---  Don’t sit smugly thinking that it can never happen again.


Points to consider when reflecting on theme

  • Think about how the film Ben Ross showed his class and the behaviour of the members of The Wave later on in the book, are similar.


  • Todd Strasser shows how group pressure can cause people to give up their individuality without questioning.


  • Acting in unison lead the group to feel high on life.  Brain “It was like a rush” p 31. 


  • Everyone is urged to participate, if they do not then they are treated as outsiders, if they do then they are accepted.


  • Success is redefined...usually the smart students get the best marks, however with The Wave those who follow the rules and are disciplined get praise.  Students reach for success by following the rules of uniform behaviour, all students reach the same average level.


  • “I’m talking about power.  And I’m talking about success...Is there anyone here who isn’t interested in power and success?”  Ben Ross offers them the possibility of gaining influence with others.


  • The events in The Wave illustrate the powerful and frightening effects of group pressure.


  • The wave shows how human beings are capable of falling under the spell of a dangerous leader with charisma. 


Hand out key quotes...analyse who said them and what they show.


When David pushes Laurie because she is going to publish the editorial about The Wave

It is important because it shows how dangerous The Wave has become

It is the turning point that makes David realise that he has been carried away

It highlights the key theme that we must learn to question and think for ourselves


Write another practice essay using a scaffold about an important character.


Write a plan and an introduction for a number of essays... Use that plan to write their own essay.