For the next few weeks, we will move into our first class text, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. This is a graphic memoir that recounts the experiences of a ten year old girl living through the Iranian revolutions of the 70s and 80s.
I will use this text to do a couple of things. First, I will use it to continue building foundational reading and analysis skills from both the Common Core reading standard strands. Additionally, I will be using this text as a model text for my first district required writing assessment, which is a piece of narrative writing.
As this book embodies characteristics of both literary and informational text, you will notice that I jump around with the standards over the course of the unit. This is one way I feel like we, as ELA teachers, can help to achieve the balance of these two types of text and feel confident with what we are teaching. There are a great number of wonderful pieces literary non-fiction that can serve as a nice focus for the overlapping reading skills presented in the standards.
We will start class today with our first of many segments of silent reading time. I have actually set aside more time than I usually do for this today because I also need to start class with some reminders about where we've been and where we are going. We have been focusing our attention on classroom culture and norms, with a few introductory remarks on Persepolis.
Today we will be diving head first into the graphic novel. Students were supposed to read the first 32 pages for today's class. As I'm not sure that happened, I will allow for a bit more SSR time (15 minutes) so that students can use the time to either read their choice novels or to make sure they are ready to discuss the beginning of Persepolis.
To support and guide students through their reading of Persepolis, we will ask them to take notes by creating dichotomy journals. This text is filled with dichotomies (pairings of seemingly opposing ideas that in fact define and enhance each other), such as youth and age, light and dark, male and female, liberal and conservative, etc. We are asking students to trace these dichotomies so that they can move beyond simple comprehension of the text and, hopefully, have a basis for discussing the historical and literary significance of this text.
To support students in this process, we will model a journal entry using their reading schedule/guide, which I will hand out today in class. I wish I could claim credit for this idea, but I have to credit my teaching colleague for her creativity in creating a hand drawn reading guide for Persepolis. Her idea (tweaked for my own use) is a great one because it can also be used as a reminder of some of our graphic novel techniques and vocabulary from our introductory lessons on this genre last week.
Once I hand out their assignment sheets, I will review with them the different requirements it highlights, specifically choosing specific pieces of text to support their interpretation of what is being said as well as support for their analysis of Satrapi's rhetorical strategy and purpose (RI.9-10.1 and RI.9-10.6). The bottom half of the assignment sheet provides a model for what this journal entry should look like, which will hopefully help students reach higher levels of thinking in their responses.
We will spend the last 20 minutes of class beginning our work on the journals based on the chunk of text that students were supposed to have read by today.
We will continue our whole group discussion of the text but move to the specific pages that we have already read. As we talk, I will ask students to volunteer ideas about dichotomies that they are seeing even early in the book and guide the class through a collaborative discussion about how these dichotomies are shaping their interpretation of the text so far (SL.9-10.1 and SL.9-10.1a).
In addition, I will start to point out some of the unique aspects of Satrapi's narrative style. Even though this text is technically non-fiction, the author utilizes elements of literary style to support her narrative. The youth of the narrator and her disjointed memory will be key pieces of our discussion in coming class periods, so I will ask students to take note of this as they continue to read.
After about five to ten minutes of this, I will ask students to work with a partner to continue their analysis of the first 32 pages of the book, both for their journals and in a more formal note taking guide on the narrative structure, which I will hand out to them.
I anticipate that this lesson will have to spill into tomorrow as well. The planning for today was a joint endeavor between members of my collaborative team and we often get a little too big in our vision for things, so once the students move into their partnerships, I will wander the room to monitor their progress and gauge how much time will be needed to finalize things tomorrow.
I don't know that I will take a whole five minutes for this, but, given the messiness of today's transition back to Persepolis, I want to make sure students are leaving with a very clear understanding of what is expected of them moving forward. I will remind them of their reading assignment and remind them to continue to work on their journals.