"I Just Wanna Be Average": Tracing the Idea of Persistence in a Personal Essay

5 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT determine Mike Rose' point of view and the choices he makes in narrating his experiences in his essay by citing strong and thorough textual evidence.

Big Idea

What motivates you? What are persistence, praise, and performance to a 9th grader? My students will tell you as they respond to Mike Rose.

Lesson Intro: Moderating pace and listening to our students

Why this text? Just having come off of reading a long-ish short story by Vonnegut, "The Kid Nobody Could Handle" and before that an informative piece of writing about praise/feedback ("The Praise Paradox"), we now turn to a longer, challenging piece about praise/performance/persistence in a personal essay called "All I Want is a B Average."  I selected this essay with my colleagues at READi in order to challenge my students with a text that may even be out of their comfort zone (RI.9-10.10).  

Why this pace? That said, today's lesson will be a major REVISION on my plan.  The essay that I had assigned is too difficult and too long for my students.  The beginning of the year in grade 9 is one of mutual taming, at least it often seems: students are trying to whittle me down to assign less, and I am trying to amp them up to take on more complexity, challenge, difficulty, etc.  Today, I feel that they will require an extra day to read this essay well, so I will give it to them, even an extra day and a half.

I plan to reinforce the message about questioning patterns from the last lesson by showing examples of questions from student annotations of the story,"The Kid Nobody Could Handle," and I will tell them that they will get extra time to read so that they will have to make sure to have extra questions on their text copies. 

We also will spend a little time continuing their argument papers on "The Kid Nobody Could Handle," which will require quite a bit of extra scaffolding as well.  







**I would like to acknowledge help for finding this material and for creating this lesson sequence from Project READi: PROJECT READI is a multidisciplinary, multi-institution collaboration aimed at research and development to improve complex comprehension of multiple forms of text in literature, history and science. READI is a project supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305F100007 to University of Illinois at Chicago. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.



Additional Acknowledgements:

Lesson Image credit.

"I Just Wanna Be Average" found online and used as spontaneous use in this lesson.


Reading "I Just Wanna Be Average": tracing his argument

30 minutes

The task.  I will ask the students to read through the text aloud as a whole group, then a segment of class devoted to SSR (sustained, silent reading) in order to trace how Mike Rose feels about the topics of persistence, praise, and performance (RI.9-10.5).  I will also ask them to consider why he relies so much on storytelling/anecdotes to make his point and if these examples count as good evidence for the students as they read (RI.9-10.6).  In creating this task, I am just introducing these upper-level RI standards, as I know that we will delve into them in detail in coming units, but for now, I am most curious to see if the students can show the task persistence to read this difficult text; I am hoping to draw student interest into reading more complex texts this year (RI.9-10.10).  

The text.  This text (link) is longer than usual (about 10 pages) and contains a heightened vocabulary.  I am curious to see how the students will react to the story in full once they have read it, but right now, the key issue centers on having enough time and support to give it an effective reading.  Today, I will give them 25 minutes to read silently and to hear me read; during this time, I guided them to mark their texts with the three question types. 



Writing Follow-Up: "The Kid Nobody Could Handle" -- part 2

10 minutes

Students used their 1:1 Chromebooks to add to their argument papers from yesterday's lesson. The critical turn here centered on having students select their own evidence and offer their own explanations (W.9-10.1a).  

This is a key turn in writing instruction because we are scaffolding towards students selecting their own evidence (RL.9-10.1).  I intend to complete the exercise tomorrow and will include student examples and a lengthy discussion of gains at that point.