Weapons of the Spirit

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Holt Elements of Literature - 2009 Grade 9

Unit 6

Title: “Weapons of the Spirit”

Suggested Time: 6-7 days (45 minutes per day)

Common Core ELA Standards: RI.9.1, RI.9.2, RI.9.4, RI.9.5, RI.9.6, RI.9.10; W.9.2, W.9.4, W.9.9; SL 9.1; L.9.1, L.9.2, L.9.4, L.9.5
Teacher Instructions

Preparing for Teaching

  1. Read the Big Ideas and Key Understandings and the Synopsis. Please do not read this to the students. This is a description for teachers about the big ideas and key understanding that students should take away after completing this task.

Big Ideas and Key Understandings

Principles should be steadfast, though circumstance and time can influence how we communicate them.

Although we may compromise our principles for the greater good during times of war, such compromise can result in feelings of regret.

True power lies not in military might, but in “a will governed by true conviction” (451).

Einstein’s use of language in these four pieces is shaped by his different purposes for writing, reflecting his beliefs, as well as conveying the tension between his beliefs and actions, and finally his regret.


This lesson consists of four short works by Albert Einstein. In the first piece, an interview from 1931, he urges people to channel their energy toward peace rather than war. In the second piece, a letter dated 1939, he warns President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Nazi Germany is trying to develop atomic bombs and asks that the U.S. government help scientists create similar weapons. In the third piece, written in 1950, Einstein urges governments to renounce policies of violence. In the fourth piece, an essay written in 1952, Einstein explains why he wrote the letter to Roosevelt and states his belief that preparing for war makes war inevitable.

The four short texts, taken together, illustrate the development of his thinking regarding the use of weapons and his beliefs about war. Please note: Texts should be read in a different order than in the book. They should be read chronologically, in the order they were produced so that the sequence is: Weapons of the Spirit, Letter to Roosevelt, The Arms Race, and On the Abolition of the Threat of War.

  1. Read the entire selection (all four pieces), keeping in mind the Big Ideas and Key Understandings.

  2. Re-read the texts while noting the stopping points for the Text Dependent Questions and teaching Tier II/academic vocabulary.

During Teaching

  1. Students read the first selection, Weapons of the Spirit, independently.

  2. Teacher reads the text aloud while students follow along or students take turns reading aloud to each other. Depending on the text length and student need, the teacher may choose to read the full text or a passage aloud. For a particularly complex text, the teacher may choose to reverse the order of steps 1 and 2.

  3. Students and teacher re-read the text while stopping to respond to and discuss the questions, continually returning to the text. A variety of methods can be used to structure the reading and discussion (i.e., whole class discussion, think-pair-share, independent written response, group work, etc.)

Text Dependent Questions

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