In the previous lesson, students got a refresher on a few literary devices that are present in the poem we have been reading. However, they only had about 20 minutes of practice applying this knowledge. I feel they need more practice and support. Today, they will get more practice identifying these by annotating several more stanzas in collaboration and with plenty of support from me. The work today will lead to a quiz the next day class meets.
Students have been given two resources I want them to use for this activity. One is the annotated Whole Group Analysis of chart-Juxtapose Mainstream Lit And Indigenous Lit. The other is the ANNOTATE chart on the wall, which now includes a set of literary devices we discussed the day before. Today, I want to make their job more focused. What I mean is that the “Annotate” chart is quite comprehensive and I can imagine my struggling readers being overwhelmed with the task of keeping that long list in mind as they navigate the writing of Leslie Marmon Silko. To focus their job, I preselect a few items on this chart they can all easily identify and ask students to focus on these. The ones I preselected are marked with a small yellow post-it. I give them the option of annotating anything else from the chart, but if they only annotate the things marked with a yellow post-it, that is more than fine.
I ask students to work in pairs or small groups to annotate Leslie Marmon Silko's poem one part at a time. We already annotated the first three stanzas together the day before. Today I have them start with the fourth stanza on page one and move on to the next few in the first half of page 2 until they finish the stanza ending with the words, “What I have is a story.”
Before they begin working, I tell students that they need to be very focused today and take advantage of the collaborative work today because this work is leading to a quiz. I wait for the gasps to subside and explain that their ability to identify all these terms in a text and to apply these concepts is very important. I remind them that advanced readers do this on a regular basis. To hold them accountable, I tell them that they will be annotating the last two pages of the poem on their own the following day and that I will grade these as a quiz. I expect this announcement to increase their motivation to learn to identify these terms and concepts accurately.
Students collaborate to identify elements from the “Juxtaposing Mainstream Lit and Native American Lit” chart and the “Annotate” chart, which now includes a few specific literary devices. I spend this time walking around and assisting groups as needed. As they start working, students may have a difficult time remembering the meaning of the characteristics of Indigenous Literature, listed on the "Juxtaposing Mainstream Lit and Native American Lit" chart. I overhear a couple of students whispering to their table partner, asking for a definition. I step in and give them the definition. I then interrupt the rest of the class to announce that it is ok for today if they need to be reminded of the definition because the task is to apply this information by identifying these accurately on the text. A couple of students request a definition after this announcement, and then they all work quietly.
After I see that students have some annotations they can share, I get their attention back and I ask groups to share what they annotated. This works as a good break because my students begin to lose focus after a while so sharing their work with the rest of the class can serve to jumpstart their thinking and focus them again. Sharing turns into a discussion about the specific characteristics of the literary devices and concepts they have been asked to annotate. There are plenty of opportunities to identify repetition in this poem and students do a good job of this. Diction is also a device they get to fully practice identifying in this poem that is rich in precise language. There are also several examples of a criticism of colonialism and the metaphysical. The challenges are still with conversational language, but the biggest challenge is with cyclical storytelling. I tell them that it is difficult to see a clear example in this poem, but that they will definitely see an example in the next text of this unit and to just hold off on that one. This is how I address the difficulty with the cyclical nature of some stories. Indeed, a few days from now, students will see a very clear example of cyclical storytelling as we begin to read Silko's Ceremony and they will understand what this means at that point.
I remind students that they will be annotating the last two pages on their own the following time we meet and that this will count as a quiz. I invite them to ask final questions about the terms and concepts they will be expected to identify for the quiz. I answer their questions and dismiss class.