Lesson Plan Title: Synesthetic Stories
Grade Level: 9-12
Duration: 50 minutes
Description: Jocelyn Fox employs synesthesia, a medical condition in which one type of stimulation triggers the sensation of another, as a narrative device in her short story, “A Small Taste of Normalcy.” People who suffer from synesthesia see colors when they hear sounds, feel sensations when they see colors, taste when they touch, feel when they hear, etc. In this exercise, students will explore the narrative structure imposed by synesthesia upon a short story.
Student Objectives: Using the narrative device of synesthesia, students will draft short stories full of original sensory descriptions in the first person point-of-view.
Set Up and Prepare: Distribute copies of Jocelyn’s story to class.
Directions: Have students to read “A Small Taste of Normalcy,” taking copious notes in the margins of the story. Explain how synesthesia works and ask students to consider how the medical condition functions in the story. How does Jocelyn use synesthesia and to what ends? (15 minutes)
Step 1: Have students free write about an event from a character’s first person POV. Ask them to include as many sensory details as possible, how things looked, felt, tasted, and sounded to the character? (10 minutes)
Step 2: Ask students to read through free write and underline all sensory passages. Have them make a list of sensory descriptions on the left side of the page. (5 minutes)
Step 3: Inform students that their characters have all been diagnosed with synesthesia. Have them generate a list of sensory descriptions on the right side of the page inspired by the column on the left. How do tastes sound? How do sights feel? Etc. (10 minutes)
Step 4: Ask students to free write about the same event from the first-person POV, only this time have them write synesthetic descriptions, integrating the their two columns in original combinations. (10 minutes)
Assess Students: Ask students to read their work. Are students able to employ synesthesia to create vivid sensory descriptions?
Lesson Extension: Have students write a full story from the POV of a character with synesthesia.
Evaluate Lesson: How quickly were students able to grasp the concept of synesthesia and mimic it? Were they inspired by the prompts? Did they generate original ideas?
Assignments: Have students bring a rough draft of their synesthetic story to the next class.