Using the Setting of Chapter 1 to Determine Theme

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SWBAT determine a theme of chapter 1 and analyze it in detail, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details by focusing on setting and sketching key moments of the text.

Big Idea

Thinking about the marshes as a character in the novel helps the reader better understand Pip.


10 minutes

Students take a 10 minute quiz on the information given in powerpoint presentation on Monday. The quiz emphasizes the importance of the information previously provided and should act as an easy grade-booster, if they were paying attention at all, which they all were.

Reading Chapter 1

40 minutes

Dickens is hard! Therefore I chose to read much of the book aloud in class, especially at first. I try to structure the reading so that our class time doesn't become just an hour of reading (boring!) and also so that I can check for understanding.

At the beginning of the novel, I structure the reading through illustrations. Throughout our reading today, students will illustrate key moments in the text. I will read aloud and stop at these four designated points, where students will be given 5 minutes to draw the moment depicted and match it with textual evidence (RL.9-10.2). Here is the worksheet.

Working through chapter 1 this way is time consuming, but necessary. Much of it is so foreign to freshmen that they don't even know what they don't know. When they stop and try to sketch the image, they have time to formulate questions and respond to the text. This method is also more laid-back than strict note taking, so they enjoy it more, and ultimately understand it better. 

Time to Admire Our Work

5 minutes

Before class ends, we spend a few moments checking out each other's work. It will be an informal process, where students will get to chance to see how their peers understood the scene and where they chose to focus (SL.9-10.1d). I will simply break the room up into three sections: left, middle, and right. The seats are set up in a double U-shape, so students will share with those next to them and in font or behind. Some samples: example 1, example 2, example 3.

Sometimes I don't leave time for these moments, but I should. I'm always happily surprised at how encouraging they can be and at what they can learn just by looking at their neighbor's illustrated thought-process.

Wrapping Up

5 minutes

In the last 5 minutes, I assign the homework: Using your knowledge of chapter 1, explain how the setting complements the storyline and makes the reader expect certain things from the novel.

This assignment will pull the students beyond just looking at setting as an element unto itself. Instead, they will have to think through how the setting and initial character descriptions determine mood and ultimately theme.