Based on Jeffrey Wilhelm's book "Action Strategies for Deepening Comprehension" Pg.45-48

 Purpose:  frontload information and get students thinking in another era.

This is a great activity for examining point of view.

Trigger Letters


  • Before The Reading: At the beginning of class leave a letter-like the one below-on every table. When everyone is settled ask them to choose a reader to read the letter for the rest of the group.

  • Explain this letter was found by a servant-who cannot read-in the great hall of the castle. The servant is confused about it, she knows it is official but since she can't read, must find someone to read it to her.

  • It is your job to decide what you would do if you were the servant. She realizes this letter is very important and can't decide who she should trust it with.

  • During The Reading: Students are to look for reasons to trust or not trust the King and the Archduke.

  • After The Reading: Decide who you would give the letter to by using a TChart.

  • Use this [T-CHART ] On one side write Archduke and on the other side write King . Under the Archduke make a list of reasons why she trusts or doesn't trust the Archduke. On the other side make a list of reasons she would trust and not trust the King.  Underneath the reasons, what questions would she ask to determine who she most trusts?

  • Afterwards decide what is the real issue underlying the words of this letter? (possible themes are trust, loyalty, allegiance)

  • Read out - round robin style- what each group came up with and why. Make sure that the students discuss the themes within the story.

  • Record comments for the following question on an overhead or board.

My Loyal Guardsmen;

     The time is now, We must act swiftly! When the cat's away clean the Kingdom of mice! Tomorrow noon. Offspring First; Herd second. Burn!


Follow -Up After the Reading Activities

  1. Who in a Kingdom should know about this letter? Make a list of at least five.

  2. Choose to be one of the above people and write a monologue about the situation. Include your feelings about it and your ideas for addressing the situation.

  3. Share your monologues.

  4. Role play a scene in the square of all the people who found out about the letter. Share their worry and concern.