Maus Chapter 3 and 4: Juxtaposition of a Character Soldier vs. POW (Day 1 of 3)

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SWBAT analyze the development of a character by examining the juxtaposition of Vladek as a soldier and a POW.

Big Idea

Student grapple with Vladek's strengths and weakness to determine who is the strongest Vladek: the soldier or the POW.

Let's Get Started: Presentation Work Time

30 minutes

It is the final countdown to the first group presentation: ILP maus 2013.  We have already devoted one and a half class periods to developing research topics for the project and worked in the library to research the project using a wide variety of print and non-print resources (CCSS.W.9-10.7). The goal of this project is for students to demonstrate how events in their lifetime will shape the future. Now, the groups need time to organize and ask clarifying questions. I also must make sure they are on track to present their findings in a logical way and demonstrate a connection to their audience (CC.SL.9-10.4). Presentations begin one week from today.  I want to spend a few minutes talking about the expectations of a group presentation.

I ask students to take out their project planning packet and look at the group presentation rubric.  I call on students to read the five point section of the rubric.  The six point area is reserved for groups that go beyond the expectation of the assignment.  I also talk to them about what they should be doing while a group member is presenting. Students have a tendency to forget that they are in front of the class when they are not speaking.  

Next I give them time to collaborate as a group.  By the end of the 30 minutes, each group has to share the day they will present, the medium of presentation, and any special needs for their presentation (i.e. rearrange furniture, lighting cues, etc).  Any group that will need to use the computer for their presentation has to bring in their presentation on a jump drive at least one day before they present to make sure the applications are compatible and available on our school server.  


Building Knowledge: Rebellion in Poland

25 minutes

As a transition activity, I am going to share a BBC Outlook radio broadcast of the escape from Sobibor Death Camp in Poland.  

The majority of Maus deals with how Vladek works to keep his family hidden from the Nazis.  It shows how friendship, bribery, and luck kept his family away from the Nazis. Beginning in 1939, the Spiegelman family witness horrible events, including the death of their toddler son. The book ends in 1945 as Vladek and his wife, Anja are put on a train to Auschwitz.

Our class discussions focus on the victims and the perpetrators of atrocities of WWII in Poland. Several times, students have inquired about why Jews did not fight back.  It is a complicated question, just like the greater Holocaust narrative is far more complex than one single narrative can convey.  I want my students to get a slice of another perspective, rebellion.  

Today is the 70th anniversary of the rebellion at Sobibor, so I thought it would redirect the students into the Holocaust narrative and allow them to hear how someone explains an historical event and makes it relevant to the present.  This concept is the foundation of their presentations that they are working on at the beginning of class.  

I ask them to write down the reporters questions and answer them based on what they hear in the radio broadcast.

žReporters notes:
žWhy did it happen?
žHow did it impact history? 
žWhy is it important now?
After the broadcast, the students engage in whole group discussion to review the events and share what new learnings they take away from this first-person narrative about the Holocaust. This discussion can enrich their comprehension of the Holocaust by allowing the to compare the first person account in Maus to the first person account in this broadcast (CCSS.RI.9-10.7). 


Building Knowledge: The Two Valdeks Soldier and POW

30 minutes

Now, we are moving into our analysis of chapters 3 and 4 of Maus.  I combined chapters 3 and 4 because they create an excellent opportunity to look examine the juxtaposition of Vladek's character.  It moves beyond the complexities of old Vladek and young Vladek that we are tacking in our timeline, and shows how Vladek behavior and actions advance the plot (CCSS.RL.9-10.3).

Students divide into specific roles in their groups. 

•Task Master
•Credibility Checker
ž(Note: If there are only four people in the group, I'd suggest combining Credibility Checker and Illustrator.)

Next, they have to answer a series of questions about Vladek as a soldier: 
žConsider Vladek as a soldier…
žWhy is he in the Army?
žWhat choices does Vladek make as a soldier?
žHow does he feel about his decision?—use evidence from the text to support your answer.
žDo you agree or disagree with his choice?
I call on a groups and ask their reporter to answer one of the questions.
Next, the class moves on to Vladek as a POW.
žConsider Vladek the POW…
žWhat choice does he have to make as a POW?  What are the risks?
žWhat is the outcome of his choice?
žHow does he get out of prison?
žHow does he get home?
I repeat the process of calling on groups to answer the questions.  
Now, moving on to slide 7 in the Maus Chapters 3 & 4 power point, I ask them to compare and contrast Vladek as a soldier and a POW by stating at least three adjectives that describe Vladek as a soldier and a POW.  They make a chart. I call on volunteers to share their adjectives for each Vladek.
Next, they answer this question: How is Vladek the soldier different form Valdek the POW?



Wrap up: Before the Next Class...

5 minutes

Now that we have established the base for how to juxtapose the two Vladeks.  I remind them to bring the work we did in class today to the next class.