Close Reading: Terrible Things

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SWBAT compare how two authors present the same message in unique ways.

Big Idea

"The truth. It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and must therefore be treated with great caution [or hidden in allegory]." J.K. Rowling

Warm Up

10 minutes

After reviewing the daily agenda, students will view the video below.  As we have been working with Mr. Gross' book, this will be meaningful to the students. Students will be meeting him a couple of weeks from now, and other than a snapshot of me with him, this gives them their first look at their subject.

Before viewing the video, I will ask students (during the viewing) to focus on the message he is trying to get across to viewers.  

After viewing the video I will ask students, "As a table, discuss what you believe is the "gist" of his message?" (Students worked with "gist" earlier in the year in this lesson, so it should be familiar.)

After a quick discussion, I will ask that one person at each table share what their group believes is the message by sending it to our November Today's Meet backchannel discussion.  This will display on all their laptops and my SMART board.  As responses come in, we'll share and quickly discuss the validity of each.

Close Reading Lesson/Independent Work

25 minutes

Students will take a handout from the caddy of the text "Terrible Things" (without the subtitle - "An Allegory of the Holocaust"). As students follow,  I will read the text aloud without stopping to allow students to get the flow of the story.

Immediately afterward, I will ask students to reread the text silently using text codes to annotate the text.  If you follow me, you know we have been using text codes (ala Harvey Daniels) since very early in the year, so students are familiar with the process. 

To wind this portion of the lesson down, I will ask the students to read the text a third time circling at least two text coding examples that are worthy of sharing with their table mates.  If two are not worthy they need to select two to improve.  Finally, students are to write what they believe to be the "gist" of the piece at the end. 








10 minutes

Finally, I will ask students to discuss and answer the following as a table:

1.  What does the author want me to understand? 

2.  Are there any hard or important words?

3.  How does the author play with the language to add meaning?

4.  How does this relate back to what I (the student) said about the gist of Fred Gross' video?

At the end of discussion time, ask each table to send their answer to number four in on Today's Meet so we can review our findings as a class. (See an earlier lesson with Today's Meet)

Note - I originally started using Today's Meet because I had iPhones donated to my class.  We only had one per group, so it was perfect.  There are many other ways to share the group ideas though -from Edmodo to small dry erase boards. Do not let lack of technology stop you from having students share their thoughts with a real audience.

The goal here is for students to make the connection from this piece to both Mr. Gross and our study of the Holocaust.  So, at the end of this segment I will put up Eve Bunting's preface in Terrible Things with the entire title of the book.  This will include the definition of allegory as this introduces a "teachable moment" to share the term allegory with my students.

Theoretically, students will see the metaphorical layering of ideas in the Allegory.

Wrap Up Writing Assignment

10 minutes

To wrap up the lesson I will ask students to take the homework from the caddy at their table.  This includes a writing task that asks students to compare Mr. Gross' message with that of Eve Bunting's Terrible Things and explain how they promote the same message in different ways.

The video of Mr. Gross will be linked to our digital classroom on Edmodo so students may review it on their own.