To begin today's lesson, I work through the summary questions with the class as a way to review the summary strategy we worked on for chapters 1 and 2. We create a class paragraph as a reminder of the events in chapter 4 (especially since poor Tom is still in church).
After everyone is up to speed on Tom's location and state of mind, I play the audio file for chapter 5. Before we begin, I will ask students what it means to "visualize" what you read. Most seventh graders have heard this term before and can tell you all about creating a picture, or seeing a movie, in their minds. I let them know that for this chapter we are focusing on visualizing, so they need to play close attention to the picture this chapter creates for them.
At the end of the 11-minutes audio file, I ask the students if they could visualize what they heard. Because this chapter is so entertaining, I get a lot responses to this. My favorite days are when the kids actually "lol" when the poor poodle becomes a "wooly comet" after his encounter with the pinch bug.
Once I'm sure that the students understand what occurred in church that warm summer morning, I hand out the sheet entitled, "Chapter 5: The Pinch Bug and His Prey." If you are limited in your copies, this would be an easy assignment to create on lined notebook paper.
The biggest box on the sheet is for the students to sketch a picture of what they visualized from chapter 5. I get them started on their sketches right away, as most of them are excited to draw a dog getting bitten on the butt by a pinch bug in the middle of church!
Once everyone has a good start on their sketches, I will interrupt the class and say, "You all are drawing such amazing pictures. How are you all able to see this scene so clearly?" With any luck, the students will have responses along the lines of understanding what they read and/or Mr. Twain's comedic description of the scene. This is exactly the "in" I'm looking for.
I let the students know that as they are finishing up their sketches, they are ready to move on to the second part of this assignment: proving that their visualization is based on what was actually written in the book! In the remaining boxes, students are to cite quotes from the chapter that support their sketch. In other words, if they drew the dog running up the aisle, they need to cite the sentence and/or passage that describes it.
The sheet has room for a citation based on setting, character, and plot. I want the students to understand that they are separate elements of fiction; however, it is when they work together seamlessly that we get an entertaining chapter such as this.
This activity is a great way to remind students about proper MLA citation. I always pose the question to them this way, "How do I let my reader know that I'm writing words that don't belong to me?" Maybe it's my paranoid nature, but I want my students to understand that improper citation is plagiarism. If they get nothing else from me, I hope they leave with a good, healthy dose of plagiarism paranoia!
I allow the remainder of the period for students to finish their sketches and find their quotes.
As the students are working, I will circulate around the room and offer advice. I will often see the same two missteps: paraphrasing the text and mislabeling a quote.
If I see a student who is paraphrasing, I will remind them that we are citing our text with direct quotes. I then ask them to go back through the chapter and find the exact sentence that gave them their paraphrased information.
If I have a student who has placed a quote about character in the setting box, I will compliment their choice of quote and then explain how it better represents one of the other categories.
This strategy can be called "Sketching" or "Visualizing" and makes a great addition to the Organizing our Strategies resource.