Winner of the 2012 NAGC Curriculum Studies Award

In the Mind's Eye: Truth Versus Perception invites students on a philosophical exploration of the themes of truth and perception. Lessons include a major emphasis on rigorous evidence-based discourse through the study of common themes and content-rich, challenging informational and fictional texts. This unit, developed by Vanderbilt University's Programs for Talented Youth and aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), applies concepts from Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" to guide students to discover how reality is presented and interpreted in fiction, nonfiction, art, and media.

Students engage in activities such as Socratic seminars, literary analyses, skits, and art projects, and creative writing to understand differing perceptions of reality. Lessons include close readings with text-dependent questions, choice-based differentiated products, rubrics, formative assessments, and ELA tasks that require students to analyze texts for rhetorical features, literary elements, and themes through argument, explanatory, and prose-constructed writing.

Ideal for pre-AP and honors courses, the unit features art from M.C. Escher and Vincent Van Gogh, short stories from Guy de Maupassant and Shirley Jackson, longer texts by Daniel Keyes and Ray Bradbury, and informational texts related to sociology, Nazi propaganda, and Christopher Columbus. This unit encourages students to translate learning to real-life contexts and problems by exploring themes of disillusionment, social deception, and the power of perception.

Grades 6-8

chapter |16 pages


ByEmily Mofield, Tamra Stambaugh

part |10 pages


chapter Lesson 1|8 pages

The Works of M. C. Escher

ByEmily Mofield, Tamra Stambaugh

part |59 pages


chapter Lesson 2|13 pages

“Allegory of the Cave”


chapter Lesson 3|12 pages

“The Lottery”

ByShirley Jackson

chapter Lesson 4|11 pages

Starry Night

ByVincent Van Gogh

chapter Lesson 5|17 pages

Christopher Columbus's Encounter

ByEmily Mofield, Tamra Stambaugh

part |29 pages


chapter Lesson 6|15 pages

Flowers for Algernon

ByDaniel Keyes

chapter Lesson 7|11 pages

“The Necklace”

ByGuy de Maupassant

part |46 pages


chapter Lesson 8|9 pages

Analyzing Propaganda

ByEmily Mofield, Tamra Stambaugh

chapter Lesson 9|13 pages

Fahrenheit 451

ByRay Bradbury

chapter Lesson 10|10 pages

The McDonaldization of Society

ByGeorge Ritzer

chapter Lesson 11|8 pages

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant”

ByEmily Dickinson

part |11 pages


chapter Lesson 12|9 pages

Final Reflection and Culminating Project

ByEmily Mofield, Tamra Stambaugh