This lesson takes place two school days after we have finished watching Errol Morris’s documentary masterpiece, The Thin Blue Line and one day after students have taken an open-note/open-photocopy quiz (of 10 questions) regarding selected criticism of the film.
Yesterday, following the quiz, students wrote a simple blog entry regarding The Thin Blue Line, and I used my model blog entry as an example to inspire them.
Today, I will briefly review the work they were to do over these previous few days, and then we will discuss the particulars of film reviews as examples of the “writing to evaluate” form or, specifically, The Review. Today’s lesson should point out to students the context, texture, and tone of a Review such that they will be able to craft strong reviews of their own for their free-choice/”indie” book, selected last month.
I have uploaded a .pdf copy of three excellent, final reviews to this lesson's resources, as it could be instructive to see where this is headed ...
After attendance and a brief review of the previous two days (see above), I ask students to pull out the photocopied criticism and have a short conversation with a partner regarding the following questions:
Which of the film reviews did you most appreciate or enjoy? Why?
What is, generally, the opinion of the reviewers about The Thin Blue Line?
What common written elements or what common writing patterns do you recognize in the sets of reviews?
After this conversation finishes, we hold a short, general discussion regarding #1 and #2 (above), and, then, I “poll” one student in each pair regarding #3.
I quickly pan around the class, gathering input from each pair of students for the class as a whole -- a somewhat modified version of think-write-pair-share. As each student I call on “reports-out,” I take notes on a Google Doc. (For an example of this process from last fall, feel free to refer to this Google Doc.)
Once we have exhausted all “data collection,” I review the full, long-ish list.
Finally, students write a blog entry (for their Research Blogs on the Research Notebook site) focusing on their perceived components of a Review. In other words, I have students blog about the components/sections of a review after they have discussed this in pairs AND as a whole-class. My example blog entry -- used as a model -- is linked here (from my classroom blog).
I will circulate around the class, providing insight and encouragement to each student. I will close with the typical spate of announcements/reminders.