Today's class was dedicated to teams preparing for their presentations to the class. Before the students arrived, I arranged the desks into tables and provided a laptop to each group (Each teacher in my school has five student laptops, so I just needed to allow one of my groups to use my SmartBoard computer.)
Each of the groups had a different narrative poem, and they were charged with analyzing them for narrator, story, and structure. In addition, the students were supposed to prepare a performance of the poem. This could mean "actually" acting out the poem or it could mean a good, dramatic reading.
The expectation was that students would prepare a PowerPoint to guide their classmates in the technical aspects, so generally speaking, each group assigned someone to a computer and they broke down the assignment into parts. I encouraged them to look up anything in the poem that they didn't understand, including historical references.
There were two principal challenges in today's assignment: 1. The students had to decide how to get the work done; their "instinct" was to break up the work, but they quickly learned that it was important that everyone in the group had the same interpretation of the poem's story, otherwise the presentation would fall apart; and 2. The poems, while deceptively simple in structure, were challenging for some groups to parse. The group that struggled the most was the one that worked on "Greencastle Jenny," simply because they lacked historical background to understand the events. This required me to guide them through an internet search, which took a few minutes of their time.