Maniac Magee Unit Plan

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

Are you planning to teach 'Maniac Magee' by Jerry Spinelli? This unit plan explores the setting, plot, characters, and themes of the novel using discussion questions, activities, and projects designed for a middle school class.

Maniac Magee

Jerry Spinelli's award-winning novel Maniac Magee has numerous selling points - a charming protagonist, beautiful prose, and frank treatment of the universal themes of racism and coming-of-age. A novel like this is well worth a unit study, and with this unit plan, you can guide your middle school class through meaningful interaction with both the text and the issues it raises.

Unit Objectives

In this unit, students will:

  • analyze the setting, plot, and characters of the novel Maniac Magee.
  • identify and interact with the themes of the novel Maniac Magee.
  • explore Jerry Spinelli's use of figurative language and practice using figurative language.

Preliminary Work

  • Use the Literary Elements Lesson Plan to review plot, point of view, setting, character, and theme.
  • Discuss students' preliminary impressions of the title and previous experience with the author.
  • Additional discussion points:
    • What is a maniac?
    • What makes a hero?
    • How have you seen racism in your experience?

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