In order to prepare for our hotseat discussion tomorrow when students will ask one student who is sitting in the "hotseat" questions about the text, the students will annotate the text and then share their annotations in small groups (SL.9-10.1).
I will guide students to write two questions (minimum) per page, using the questioning techniques that we have developed thus far this year. I will also guide them to highlight and add written notes to describe character changes and thematic development as the focus of the hotseat is on character development (RL.9-10.3) and identification of key themes (RL.9-10.2).
After the students have had the opportunity to annotate and discuss in small groups, we will then move the discussion to the larger group so that students can offer insightful quotations and responses to follow-up topics regarding character development (RL.9-10.3) and themes (RL.9-10.2):
Follow Up Topics
1) Rowdy and Junior's friendship (16-24) as a baseline for Junior's character development.
2) Mr. P's interactions with Junior and the themes of poverty (30-43) and assimilation.
3) Junior's decision to go to Reardan and its effects on his relationships with family, community and Rowdy, all as an index for Junior's character development.
4) Junior's interactions with Roger and Penelope at Reardan (59-66) as key examples of the theme of code-switching/culture.
The point of this large-group discussion (SL.9-10.1a) is to bridge from small group work to the student-led hotseat discussion in following lessons. Again, my focus is on drawing character inferences out of the students, and above all, I want to carry the tone in the discussion that these characters are supremely interesting and worth our attention. The main character, Junior, is complex and layered and evolves over time (RL 9-10.3). The minor characters will change as well, some of them, but for now they are interesting to us because their interactions with Junior help to make his characterization more real and developed.
My goal here is to avoid being the talking head. I want students to take the lead, citing their own inferring-type questions and character insights. I will take the lead from the students in the questions that they raise and in the textual quotations that they cite.
In this section, I want the students to self reflect on their social process and to evaluate the status of our ability to develop and share character insights. I will ask the students the following questions on an exit slip:
1) To what extent did your group have a strong level of teamwork? How can you help make your group even stronger?
2) What is the most interesting facet/part of characterization? How was this shown in Junior's character? In another character you have read in the past?
In addition to the informal communication that I have had with students in their small groups and in the large group discussion, this written prompt gives me insight into both the students' affective domain and with respect to their self-appraisal of the cognitive task expected of them. I am curious how they perceive their progress and to what extent they feel this is important. I am curious because self-efficacy and metacognition are key areas in literacy development, and these prompts help me to gain a purchase on the progress of each student.
Finally, I will correlate the results of this exit slip with my notes on students. I create a "watch list" if a student or two or more seem to be falling behind. I also create a promo- list, as I note students who seem to want more challenge. I make sure to give them leadership roles, ramp up the complexity of their tasks and questions, and reinforce greater complexity in their book notes/text annotations.