As soon as the tardy bell rings, I say "Let's Get Started." My students pointed this habit out to me last year. It was their suggestion that I change bell work to "Let's Get Started." They claimed that bell work was for middle schoolers.
In order to support our use of technology, I put their homework on Edmodo: both the article and the questions. Students who did not have access to the internet outside of school were provided a hard copy of the assignment. They had to turn in their homework to Edmodo. I suggested that they bring a copy to class. They answered the following questions:
1. What is the thesis (claim)? (RI.9-10.8)
2. Who is the primary audience?
3. What evidence does the author give to support his claim (min of four examples)? How does the evidence support the claim? Include the page number of where you found the evidence. (RI.9-10.8)
4. What biases does the author have?
5. Do you agree or disagree with the author's position on summer vacation? Use evidence from the text and from your own personal experience and observations to support your response.
I tell students to discuss their answers to the homework questions and come to a consensus in their groups. I remind them that they need to support their answers with evidence from the text (RI 9-10. 1). Furthermore, it is possible to have multiple pieces of evidence, they need to order the evidence from strongest to weakest. I tell them to ask themselves, "How well does it connect to the claim?and Is this evidence necessary to prove the claim?" (RI 9-10. 8). Allowing students to create a common response from the group hopefully will encourage the students who struggled with the assignment will ask questions of their peers and begin to gain confidence in viewing their peers as academic resources (SL 9-10.1b). After I take attendance, I wander around the room to provide guidance in creating their common response.
After about 10 minutes, I call on individual groups to share an answer to one of the questions. If the class accepts their answer, we put it on the board. If they do not, we discuss it as a class to find consensus. I also put up definitions of words from the questions that challenged students. Students try to determine the definition from context. If they don't get it or need to verify the definition, they look the word up on their phones (L 9-10. 4 a and d).
This assignment allows me to evaluate each student's ability to identify a claim and connect that claim to evidence in the text. Additionally, the class debate will demonstrate their capacity to make inferences and determine the textual evidence that will best support that inference.
Why begin with literary nonfiction?
After I make a few class announcements. I review the term inference. I like to assume that the concept of inference is not new to my students. Usually they define it as educated guess. I give them a more specific definition: Combine what you know from experience and obviation and combine it with what you read. I want them to see the connection to the text. Prompts are on the Summer Vacation Debate powerpoint along with the score board.
I tell the class we are going to have a debate on the value of summer vacation. There are two teams: Summer vacation needs to stay and Summer vacation needs to go. My room has six tables; three tables for each position. I assign the position to the table in order to save time.
The debate format:
Each team will present one inference about summer vacation they can make based on the text. They have to provide supporting evidence from the text and explain how the evidence supports the inference (RI 9-10. 1)
For each inference with adequate support, their side gets one point. If a group is disruptive during another group's presentation, the disruptive side losses a point.
Groups get 20 minutes to prepare. I tell them to prepare two or three inferences. They may have the opportunity to speak more than once. Also they cannot repeat an inference so if their idea is already said, they need a back up (SL 9-10. 1c). They also have to pick a speaker, however I remind them that they are all responsible for making sure the speaker has something to say. The debate lasts 20 minutes. I set my phone's timer. When the timer goes off the debate is over. If a speaker is not prepared or stalls for time, I will go on to the next team.
I ask a team to volunteer to go first. Then I alternate between sides until the time is up. I announce the winning side. At the end of the debate we clap for everyone and shake hands with the opposition. The students usually fist bump or high-five--I am fine with that.
We transition from the debate to notes. I want to strengthen the students ability to engage a text. Specifically we are going to look at reading strategies and an annotation method. These strategies will help them identify and cite textual evidence when discussing a text (RI 9-10. 1) . Beginning on side 8 of the Summer Vacation Debate powerpoint, I introduce the class to the rhetorical triangle: Audience, Context, Purpose and its connection to the message.
Students take notes on the strategies. I use the summer vacation article to provide examples on how to apply the strategies. If students have questions, I try to respond using references from the same article. I expect them to apply these strategies and annotation method to their homework tonight. The strategies are on slide 9 and the remainder of the slides give an in-depth explanation of each strategy.
Following the debate and notes, there is not much time left in class. I go over the homework. It is on the last slide of the powerpoint. I tell them it is on Edmodo and I remind them that it is important to use the strategies on the article: Employment. The article is satire. It doesn't have an author and I didn't tell them where it came from. I want them to be able to identify the flaws in the article by applying the reading strategies (RI.9-10.8). They need to be prepared to share their inferences in class.