My classes are normally held in 100-minute blocks every other day. Today is a Professional Study Day in which students have shortened classes due to early dismissal for teacher training. This class period is only 57 minutes.
In the lesson outlined below, students engage in independent reading and reader response for the Iliad Books 22 and 24. Last class, students identified Achilles as someone controlled by his anger, not reason. In our study of Books 18, 22, and 24 of the Iliad, we focus on how Achilles' anger drives his actions.
Since students have the context of the Iliad and need time to process the complex language of the excerpts, they are reading the excerpts from the Iliad independently.
Instead of assigning the reading for homework, I do the following:
Last class students read the excerpt for the Iliad Book 18 independently and wrote (1) at least a one-page response on the text, including at least three examples with parenthetical citations, and (2) questions and/or observations, including matters the text leaves uncertain (Student Work: ILIAD Book 18). This assignment provides students opportunities to express their opinions about the text and evaluate their understanding of the text, possibly identifying gaps in comprehension for further exploration during peer discussion next class.
I explain to students that this class they will preread and read the last two Iliad excerpts, reading Books 22 and 24, in our literature book The Language of Literature (McDougal Littell, 2003) and complete the assignment (Assignment: ILIAD Books 22 and 24)(Assignment: ILIAD Books 22 and 24 - Word).
Before letting students get started, I remind them that prereading involves reading the beige preview text at the beginning of sections; notes on specific phrases or lines in the text and text-dependent questions found in the guide for reading in the right-margin; and any words to know/vocabulary in the beige boxes on the bottom of pages. This provides the opportunity to become familiar with vocabulary and footnotes prior to reading them in context, thereby allowing the readers to begin interacting with text features that may enrich their comprehension while reading.
Even though students read independently, if they choose to compare their answers and discuss their interpretations as they read, I do not prohibit it. I circulate throughout the classroom periodically to check their progress. Some students ask me questions about the text for clarification, and I lead them back to the text to find the explicit answer or engage them in a think-aloud about what they are reading to help them find the answers/clarifications. However, I notice this happening less frequently as the school year progresses.
Other students assist classmates who have questions in the same way with no direction from me. I think this is a result of the constant modeling and guided practice I do with my students on monitoring and evaluating their comprehension and going back to the text for clarification.
We will debrief next class so that students may share their responses and interpretations.