Literature Circle #5: Holden On The Past and Future

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SWBAT participate in a collaborative discussion of Chapters 21-26 of "Catcher in the Rye", having prepared their contribution to the literature circle with a focus on Holden Caulfield's mental and physical health.

Big Idea

Does stress affect you physically? Do you get ill when things get out of hand?

Introduction & Welcome: Happy Look for an Evergreen Day!

3 minutes

I greet students at the door and welcome them to our last Literature Circle discussion. After the bell, considering we are gearing up (or winding down, depending on the students'  point of view) for Winter Break, I note it's "Look for an Evergreen" Day. If the students who celebrate Christmas want to share their perspective on real versus fake trees, they are welcome to do so, but I will not bring it up so as not to alienate those who do not. 


Today's Daily Holiday, aside from reinforcing the sense of community and students ownership, ties into the reading of the novel. I read the following excerpt from Chapter 25, in which Holden expresses his own thoughts on Christmas, "While I was walking, I passed these two guys that were unloading this big Christmas tree off a truck. One guy kept saying to the other guy, 'Hold the sonuvabitch up! Hold it up, for Chrissake!' It certainly was a gorgeous way to talk about a Christmas tree. It was sort of funny, though, in an awful way, and I started to sort of laugh. It was about the worst thing I could've done, because the minute I started to laugh I thought I was going to vomit. I really did. I even started to, but it went away. ...It was Monday and all, and pretty near Christmas and all the stores were open. So it wasn't too bad walking on Fifth Avenue. It was fairly Christmasy. All those scraggy-looking Santa Clauses were standing on corners ringing those bells, and the Salvation army girls, the ones that don't wear any lipstick or anything, were ringing bells too. ... Anyway, it was pretty Christmasy all of a sudden. A million little kids were downtown with their mothers, getting on and off buses and coming in and out of stores."


I ask students in addition to the ideas of Holden's health we addressed yesterday, to consider what this section reveals about Holden. 

Literature Circle Discussion

30 minutes

As noted above and yesterday, students will focus discussion on Holden's health, especially his fixation on being "ill." A big idea question such as this helps focus the students and, along with different students' perspectives on each roles, provide variety for the students from lit circle discussion to lit circle discussion. Each role is being filled by a different student that the previous discussion. Additionally, the selection regarding Christmas helps establish the season and the setting, and also draws connections for the students as we grow closer to the holiday as well.


After a brief reminder of the order of and direction for sharing their role assignments (see "Catching onto Holden: Independent SSR and Role Assignments"), students are free to move into their groups and begin their discussion on Holden Caulfield. Today, students share their group activities. The Discussion Director, Connector, and Character Sorter present strong and thorough textual support in order to analyse the Holden's characterization in novel and draw inferences about him from their reading (RL.9-10.1), students who have completed the Illustrator role present inferences from the novel in order to illustrate a scene or concept (again, RL.9-10.1) and students who have completed the Vocab Finder role will present the definition of words in context, verifying the meaning of terms from the vocab list and using the terms (RL.9-10.4). Students participate in a collaborative discussion, sharing their work and responding to each other to build on ideas and express their own clearly and persuasively (SL.9-10.1). Students participate in a collaborative discussion, sharing their work and responding to each other to build on ideas and express their own clearly and persuasively (SL.9-10.1). Students have prepared for discussions by reading the assigned sections of the novel and  draw on that preparation by using evidence from the novel in their role assignments in order to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas (SL.9-10.1a) . In these discussions, the assigned roles, especially “Discussion Director,” allow students to propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas (SL.9-10.1c). Through sharing their ideas and responses to the role assignments, students  respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives and justify their own views and understanding, making new connections in light of the ideas their peers present (SL.9-10.1d). Students draw from their previous discussions and individual reading to move the discussion forward.


As students discuss their understanding of Holden and the end of the novel, I circulate the room to monitor their progress and conversation.After they have completed their discussions, I ask students to turn their work in the the group's assigned folder, and plan for and work on their board game projects until all groups are done.


Students have been working in groups to test themselves and each other, exchange ideas and gain a deeper understanding of the novel, and collaborate on the final board game product. Along the way, I can provide guidance and clarification, but the primary impact is for students to take ownership of the material and product. 


Once all groups have completed their discussions, I open the floor for any questions and discussions the students may have regarding the novel so far. 

So, What Does This All Come To? A Lecture on Holden's "Fall"

15 minutes

I have been very hands-off for the duration of our study of "The Catcher in the Rye," encouraging students to come to their own conclusions about the novel and about Holden Caulfield, but some students have been asking me what I think. As such, I provide them with a look at the question "What does it mean to be a 'Catcher in the Rye'"? 


I provide this lecture and illustration for two primary reasons: 1. To provide a visualization of the novels for the visual learners, a way for them to "see" what happens. 2. To gauge and assess my students' learning as I ask the questions that drive the imagery I draw on the board. When we prepare the board games and review for the final, I will address these same major concepts. Though this lecture, I directly address the primary themes of the novel, the details that shape and refine it (RL.9-10.2), and how Holden's interactions with other characters develop the plot and themes of the novel as well (RL.9-10.3). 

Two Minute Warning: Wrap-Up and Remidners

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining in class, I remind students to review the vocabulary for tomorrow, as the quiz will incorporate the words into questions about the novel. I also remind students that they will need to work on their section of the board game project over Winter Break, as we want to be ready to compile the game the day we return. I leave students with the question Holden leaves the reader with; do you think Holden has learned anything? Will he try harder in school next time?