Today is the last day of school before an entire week of Thanksgiving break. In addition to this, student leadership put on a show, The Fall Festival, in which a few students from this class participated. We are on a special schedule to accommodate the festival and classes are shorter. The festival took place right before this class period. Their willingness to do work today is severely compromised.
Students were asked to read through the end of chapter 13 the night before. Today, I begin class by distributing a second set of “cards” for the assignment I have been calling “The Hand We Are Dealt,” which was introduced in a previous lesson. The second set of "The Hand We Are Dealt" is in this worksheet. Here, students are to keep track of the main events of the story that can help us understand and discuss Janie’s quest for autonomy. The first set of six cards were finished after we had read through the end of chapter 6. The additional chapters we have read since then have altered the picture. We now have read enough for students to understand that someone’s quest for autonomy takes many turns and I want them to track this on this paper. I made my own list of the events I hope students will be able to identify today. These include: Joe strikes Janie, Janie stands up to Joe, Janie takes off head wrap after Joe dies, Janie expresses hatred for Nanny, Janie expresses love for her new freedom, Janie takes a chance with Tea Cake and leaves town with him. I want us to collaborate on the selection of events so I ask students to begin suggesting things and I begin to write a list on the board. This moves along extremely slow and only a couple of students are contributing ideas. I soon realize many have probably not been doing the assigned reading so I address this by taking a quick survey. My suspicion is right. However, we are able to have a few significant events on our list. These include: Janie runs off with Tea Cake and marries him, Janie stands up to Jody, and Jody dies. I give them time to write a couple of these on their paper and to fill in the other information on each card. The idea in these cards is that it gives students the opportunity to thoroughly think about events that have limited the character’s autonomy as well as those that have allowed her to gain autonomy. After they have filled in the information in one card, they have essentially thought about a variety of implications of a particular event in Janie’s life. Students know how to fill out these cards already so they need little assistance. I allow them to talk to help each other if they feel they need that support. Many do choose to ask each other about the consequences or the risks or whatever information they are unsure about. These quick conversations between them are important in helping them understand these story events.
Because several students have fallen behind in reading, it is not possible to continue identifying all the main events we can add to the “Hand We Are Dealt” handout. I decide that our time will be better spent if students read in silence to catch up. I ask them all to take out their book and read in absolute silence.