The Pursuit of Happyness Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan is a tool for helping students learn about Chris Gardner while reading his autobiography ''The Pursuit of Happyness.'' In this story, Gardner tells about his struggles as a homeless, single parent.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson on The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner, students will be able to:

  • Cite textual evidence when answering questions about the text.
  • Summarize parts of the story.
  • Evaluate character development.

Length

90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3

Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

Vocabulary

  • autobiographical
  • brokerage
  • Dean Witter Reynolds training program
  • foster home
  • grit
  • homeless
  • hurdles
  • lucrative
  • meager
  • namesake
  • philanthropist
  • pound the pavement
  • poverty
  • unemployed

Materials

  • Copies of the worksheet
  • Copies of the lesson
  • Copies of the book The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Clips from the movie 'The Pursuit of Happyness' directed by Gabriele Muccino
  • Chart paper
  • Markers

Reading & Discussion Questions

  • Preview vocabulary with students before reading the lesson.
  • Read The Pursuit of Happyness: Book Summary & Quotes as a class, and discuss the following questions:
    • What genre of literature is The Pursuit of Happyness?
    • What is the setting of the story?
    • What kind of person is Chris Gardner?
    • What motivates Gardner?
    • Describe Gardner's childhood.
    • How did Gardner's childhood influence the type of father he became?
    • Prior to becoming a father, what jobs did Gardner have?
    • What sacrifices does Gardner make to participate in the Dean Witter Reynolds training program?
    • Turn and talk: Do you think it was worth the sacrifice? Why?
    • How do Gardner and his son survive homelessness?
    • Why does Gardner misspell 'happiness' in the title of the book?
    • How does Gardner's life change after completing the training program?
    • Which charities does Gardner contribute to? Why?
    • Turn and talk: Based on your life experiences, which charities would you most likely contribute to?
    • What do you think the author's message of this story is?
    • How was the book received?
  • Ask if there are any questions; then give the students the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.
  • Check the answers as a class.

Activities

Happyness

Materials: Copies of lesson, paper, pens, video clips from the movie 'Pursuit of Happyness,' copies of the book The Pursuit of Happyness, chart paper, markers

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