History and Cultural Identity: Vocabulary for Maus by Art Spiegelman

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SWBAT gather relevant information from multiple digital sources by using the internet to research historical events and define vocabulary related to Maus and graphic novels.

Big Idea

Students investigate the people and events that shaped and led to the Holocaust.

Unit Introduction

Let's Get Started...Culture Wheel Presentations

45 minutes

Today is the fifth day of presentations of the culture wheels from the second unit. Due to the number of students in the class, there is overlap between the second and third unit. The purpose of the culture wheel is for students to identify the five most important aspects of their culture and use five artifacts to demonstrate how each aspect of culture impacts their lives. Students show a logical connection between each aspect of their culture so their audience can see the relationship between their choices and their individual identities (CCSS SL 9-10 4). The students take notes on their peers' presentations. Once the presentations are finished, the students will write an in-class essay about what they have learned about their peers.  This student presentation on culture and technology focuses on how he uses technology both for entertainment and for school. The goal is to answer the unit essential question using evidence from their classmates presentations.  


Building Knowledge: Vocabulary relating to the Holocaust and Literary Analysis

45 minutes

After the presentations, students will use the lap top computers to look up literary and historical terms relating to the graphic novel Maus and the Holocaust. The directions intro to Maus and the Holocaust on the smartboard tells them to form pairs sign out a computer. It takes forever for students to log on the first time to the computers.  I have the students form pairs because I only have 28 working computers and 35 students in the class, each pair gets a computer and one person logs in.  Encouraging students to use technology to gather relevant information related to a text helps them to better incorporate technology into their research practices W 9-10 8).   I hope everyone is able to log on by the time the presentations are finished.

Next, I put the vocabulary on the board for the class.  The vocabulary on the powerpoint intro to Maus and the Holocaust is a mix of literary terms and terms related to the book.  I want the students to have the same definitions so I plan to go over each word clarifying definitions and providing examples where needed.  Common definitions of the literary terms are necessary to facilitate discussion of how figurative language is used in the text (L 9-10 4).

My classroom is a bit chaotic. Some students have access to computers while others do not.  I tell the students who are still trying to log in to use the sophomore literature books to find as many words as possible.  I assure them that they will eventually have definitions for all words. 

After 30 minutes of questionable productivity, I plan to stop the on-line research and give the students the notes from the powerpoint.  By the end of class, everyone has definitions of the vocabulary either handwritten or typed into a document on the computer. The students familiarity with vocabulary related to the Holocaust and the literary terms that connect to Maus will enhance the comprehension and discussion of the book by allowing students to comfortably use content vocabulary.

Definitions relating the graphic novels comes from: 

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Northampton, MA: Tundra Pub., 1993. Print.

Closing: Shut Down--Tomorrow is Another Day

10 minutes

Once everyone has the vocabulary in some form. I ask the students to shut down the computers and put them away in the cart.  The vocabulary assignment is on Edmodo in case a student missed a definition or needs to review the terms.  The students who were able to log on save their work in their backpack, while the other students who hand wrote but the vocabulary in their notebook.  The Edmodo backpack is a place on each student's Edmodo account where they can save and share on-going assignments.  

I wanted students to use the internet to gather the definitions. The glossary of terms in the book is limited and they would not necessarily find the Holocaust terminology in a traditional dictionary. Additionally we will be in the library next week to conduct a more advanced search using on-line data bases. This assignment is an opportunity for them to practice their skills (CC W 9-10 8).