Last class period, students had time to practice the skills necessary to determine possible allegorical meaning in a familiar childhood story, "Horton Hears a Who." They will come to class today with a completed individual attempt at this analysis. Our class discussion today will focus around gathering feedback from students about their analysis experience and what evidence they used to support an overall allegorical analysis of the story. After building confidence and supplementing instruction with this process, we will move up to our age-appropriate text, "The Minister's Black Veil" for some more applied practice.
While students will likely be chomping at the bit to throw their allegorical interpretations at you, avoid letting them do so! The assignment was designed to walk them through this analysis as a process as a way of preventing students from taking shortcuts in thought. We will discuss their homework, therefore, by walking through the assignment in the same manner that they completed it. Tying evidence to interpretations is critical to frame our discussion and to meet the expectations set out by the Common Core Standards. At this point, students should be pretty familiar with the "evidence requirement," but I will stress this point again before beginning our discussion to remind them once again of the expectations. For each section, I will ask the following questions:
After we complete our discussion, I will ask students for feedback about the ethical implications of hiding allegory in children's literature. I would like students to have a brief, but spirited discussion about the topic to emphasize the relevance of looking for allegory in literature. Some students may not care about exploring extended metaphor, but it's definitely of real-life value to consider (and look for) allegory in seemingly simple written work.
Next, students will review the definitions of inference and direct & indirect characterization and add these terms into their notes. Most students are already aware of what these terms mean, but students are often too lazy to attach the proper support to inferences or characterizations that are indirect. The "Horton Hears a Who" required this skill a bit, and our investigation of "The Minister's Black Veil" will require students to use more of it. In addition to defining these terms in our notes, we will develop examples to demonstrate how this characterization may occur and add those into our notes as well.
After we have created our own examples, students will view the following edited clip from Mean Girls. While viewing, students will write down examples of both direct and indirect characterization. After viewing the clip, we will discuss as a class our answers and if the director was successful in using these characterizations to describe the main character. Students love this activity, though if you don't have the resources to show the clip, it works just as well just referencing the movie and asking students to pull appropriate examples of direct and indirect characterization from it!
Once students have had a refresher on direct and indirect characterization, students will be given time to begin reading "The Minister's Black Veil." While reading, students will also complete their second Metacognitive Reading Log and associated Curriculum Embedded Reading Assessment (CERA) questions. Students have gotten feedback on their last reading logs based on the Metacognitive Reading Log Rubric, so I am confident that they will demonstrate improved reading cognition this time around. Students had a relatively successful first attempt with the logs, though many students reverted back to surface-level reading and logging late into the assignment. A review of the rubric and completed first round of logs helped students to gain a better understanding of the complete requirements of these assignments. All materials are included in the resources of this section.
While I do not always allow students a larger chunk of time to read in class, I think it is important to allow this time today. "The Minister's Black Veil" is fairly long, and students will be more successful in providing a sustained effort with the logs if they break up their reading time. I will allow 30 minutes today, and during this time I will circulate around the room to answer any questions and monitor student progress. Before they launch into reading, I will warn them that the story itself is a little odd and shares the characteristics of Dark Romanticism. I will also let them know that the story is an example of allegory, which they will explore further when they complete the "Allegorical Process Sheet" upon completion of the story. Finally, I will encourage them to persevere through the engaged reading of the story, which can be difficult at times. Reminding them that some things are challenging helps students become more reasonable in their reading expectations.
As a final activity for the day, students will have the opportunity to complete another subject/verb Agreement assignment practice in No Red Ink. The assignment I created for today focuses on the skills which were demonstrated as weaknesses for most students on our first formative subject/verb agreement assignment within the program. For my students, those weak skills were cases of subject/verb agreement containing:
While students take the assessment, they should pay extra attention to the questions they get wrong, working to carefully correct their errors and consider what they did wrong. The program gives plenty of instruction along the way to help students fix their errors and understand rules, but I learned from our first activity that students ignore these opportunities if they have not been instructed otherwise. Next class period, we will have a quiz over this information, so it will be crucial that students thoughtfully grapple with these "special cases" now.
For homework, students need to finish reading "The Minister's Black Veil" while completing the required Metacognitive Reading Log & CERA Questions. They should only have a few pages left because of the reading time given in class, so this assignment shouldn't be overwhelming. Additionally, they need to download and complete an "Allegorical Process Sheet" that identifies textual evidence to support each question and makes an overall judgment on the allegory which might be present in the story. Finally, students should use their progress chart within the No Red Ink platform to help them study for the upcoming subject/verb agreement quiz. The program allows students to assign themselves additional practice on any skill, so this task is completely optional, but highly recommended.