Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Creating Group Soundtracks to Investigate Theme & Character - Section 2: Building Knowledge

 

When I was little, I was always that kid who would read the last chapter of a book first.  I couldn't help myself...I just wanted to get to the good part!  I don't do that anymore, but I can honestly say that I can't work on crossword puzzles if I'm anywhere near the answers, or I'll flash right back to my youth--skipping the hard part so that I can go directly to the fun part!  It's shameful.  I know.  Especially for an English teacher...but I digress.  Why am I confessing my propensities for skipping right to the good parts in life?  Because your students do the same thing, so we need to figure out ways to STOP them from skipping all the hard stuff and going straight to the fun stuff.  We all know they can think of awesome songs...but can they track the evolution of a theme?  Justify their characterizations with textual evidence?  THAT'S what we're here to make sure they're doing. 

Because of my own love for gettin' to the good stuff, I try to plan ways to make this impossible in my classroom whenever possible.  (So I guess my students are right...I DO purposefully make them do more work.  Bah.)  By making students participate in this group project (right in front of me, no less!), I can be sure that students get that the assignment is NOT to randomly pick a song that fits a character.  I can make them identify what they want to argue, find evidence to argue that point, choose a symbol that fits their evidence, and finally choose a song that fits their information.  I am perfectly aware that students will go directly from character to song if they don't get any explicit guidance on this, so today's lesson was planned exclusively to be sure that all students GET that the process is the most important part of the whole project.  

Turning my students loose on their individual projects only after getting a "green light" on their group projects also gives me the chance to interact with each of my students individually to figure out what students have it figured out, what students are confused about the process, and what students are confused about the content.  This knowledge alone puts me in a better place to help my students, so it's really a valuable outcome of this lesson section!

  Have an Awesome, Complex Project? Model it so Kids Don't Rush It!!
  Staircase of Complexity: Have an Awesome, Complex Project? Model it so Kids Don't Rush It!!
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Creating Group Soundtracks to Investigate Theme & Character

Unit 9: Is Gatsby Really so "Great"?
Lesson 10 of 12

Objective: SWBAT track the progression of theme & tone in The Great Gatsby using textual evidence within small groups, then match the progression with related songs and images.

Big Idea: Spice up tracking progression of themes in Gatsby with an added musical layer of synthesis and plenty of collaboration!

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