Discussion Tic Tac Toe

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Objective

SWBAT work through ideas about the novel by prepping for, and engaging in, a discussion with their peers.

Big Idea

Good preparation leads to good discussion.

Students complete a "tic tac toe" section of the questions

20 minutes

When the students came into class, I gave each of them a tic tac toe board with questions in each of the squares.  The assignment was for students to select three in a row to answer completely.  

The students took a few minutes to decide on their questions, complained about the lack of a "free space," and then got to work.  I had purposely put the question that asked them to compare Gene and Finny in the middle of the board, so that we would have many people weighing in on that one.

The only real challenge of this part of the activity was that I had many students who had read far ahead (this book is absolutely the most popular one that I teach all year.)  So, the question about whether or not Gene meant to jounce the limb can evoke really different responses, based on whether or not you have read ahead.  Since the activity is designed to be done after reading page 60, I was hoping that there would be a little more debate about Gene's intentions.

Now let's talk

30 minutes

After the students completed their three required squares, we went through all of the questions and discussed them, one by one.  This took a while (thirty minutes is a minimum), and the students took notes and added to their responses.

This is not a particularly exciting part of the lesson or unit; however, I think it is really important to reinforce the reading requirements (while many read ahead, some always struggle to meet the minimums,) and to clear up any misreading or misunderstandings about the text.  

One thing that some students are confused about is Gene's state of mind.  They don't really understand how he becomes so convinced of Finny's ulterior motives, so quickly.  Part of that is the book -- it doesn't really give you the information that you need to evaluate Gene's reliability as a narrator -- and the other reason is that my students don't really understand the culture of a boarding school like Devon (based on Phillips-Exeter Academy, where Knowles went to school.)  A visit to the website, or reading the essay "There Really Was a Super Suicide Society," can help them get a better idea.