The Discussion, Day 1

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Students will be able to analyze themes, characters, and plot in "The White Umbrella" by citing evidence in a class discussion with student generated discussion questions.

Big Idea

Students construct meaning by discussing student-generated questions.


10 minutes

Today's journal provides a review of what we talked about on Friday for first hour and gets fourth hour thinking about that discussion, since fourth hour is slightly behind.


What is the difference between a discussion and a debate? What needs to happen in a successful classroom discussion?

The Discussion

20 minutes

Today was the discussion of "The White Umbrella."  I'd sorted all of the questions they wrote on sticky notes during the first reading into what ended up being four categories, or themes.  Each of the pictures in this section shows one of those themes. 


Rather than the fishbowl method that I've used previously, I used the large Socratic circle method.  I had the students arrange their desks in a circle.  I told students that if they could arrange all the desks in a circle in under a minute, I'd give them each a punch on their punch card.  That punch card is such a motivator.  I had no idea.


I showed the students the four themes and showed them each of the slides for the four questions.   I also had a copy of each of the four slides so students wouldn't feel the conversation was limited by what they could see projected on the screen.






















Bill started us out with the question of why Mona wants her mom to quit her job.  Anna said that they feel neglected because they have to make supper and look after themselves.  Nathan pointed out that they don't need a second income, like the Lee family does.  Kayce pointed out that the mother said "One beam cannot hold up the roof by itself" which suggests that maybe they do need the second income. 


Tanner asked where the dad was in the story.  They mention him on the first page, but that's it.  Why can't he take them to piano lessons? That led to whether the girls were born in America or China.  Jasmine pointed out that the narrator says that she can "say the pledge of allegiance with her eyes shut." They wondered if the family moved to America for a better life, but Hannah commented that we don't know how old they were when they moved.  Elena pointed out that we know that the narrator was twelve when the story was written.  This ended up being a dead end, so we 'pruned' this discussion.


Our next question was why the narrator said that her mother was a concert pianist. A couple of students thought that maybe the mother could have been a pianist, but then why wouldn't she teach her daughters piano herself?   Lexi asked why she would bother to lie about that.  Jasmine had said that maybe the narrator was indeed the spelling bee champion and wasn't ticklish, but the piano part was a lie.  But what would be the point of lying?  Tanner said that she wanted attention.  Kayce said that she would feel the same way, and Neveah said that the narrator probably didn't like having to take care of her little sister because her mom was at work. 


The video  in this section shows the students discussing why the mother closes her eyes after the accident.  It's unedited. This is what happened in real life on the first day of the discussion. That's right, the first day.  The second day?  Check out the next lesson.


Lesson Resources

Today's lesson picture is a collage I created showing the four themes that came from the student generated questions.