Class begins with students writing a reflection about the writing activity we just completed from Reading Assignment 2. I ask them to write about things that went well (pluses) and things they could have done better with (OFIs). Students are expected to write 2 complete paragraphs and then turn in their reflection to me.
At the onset of the second section of the novel, I start by building a bridge between the first section of the novel and where we are headed. One natural way to do this is to discuss the use of symbolism in the story thus far, as symbolism does not simply confine itself to one section or another. I find it is easiest to officially introduce this concept after we have read a bit of the novel in order to build a foundation for the rest of the novel.
I begin by asking students to write down on a sheet of paper what they understand the definition of "symbol" to be. I then ask the students to share their definitions with their table groups. Following this, I select a few students from the different groups to share what they feel is the best definition from their respective groups. I then give them an official definition that we will continue to work with as we move forward:
"Something that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract"
I then ask the students to write down 3 symbols they are familiar with, and what they mean. Students typically share things like a heart representing love, the color purple representing royalty, and a road symbolizing a journey, to name a few.
After this, I ask them to think about some of objects in the first section of the novel. I assign each of the groups an item from the first section of the novel by randomly passing them out. I set it up so that three groups will each share the same item. The three items I include are books, porch/patio furniture, and the mechanical hound.
I ask the groups to discuss for a few minutes and then write their response down on a white board at their tables. After five minutes, I go from group to group having them share their responses. I make it a point not to tell the students whether or not I agree, as I want them to continue looking at these symbols and others throughout the remainder of the novel. I do, however, ask each group to justify their decisions with evidence from the story. While I do not tell them whether I agree with their determination or not, if they are way off, I ask questions to help lead them to certain text or certain ideas that might help them come to a more accurate conclusion of their own. I don't want to do the thinking for them, so I only use this process when absolutely necessary.
As with every new section of the novel, we preview it by working in the Novel booklet with some of the unusual or significant vocabulary that will be found in the second section of the novel. I have them work with the terms in context, describing what they think the word means and explaining what context clues support that. Even when a student already knows a word, I expect them to show evidence from the text that supports the definition. The students then complete a crossword activity, matching the provided definitions with the terms.
The students who complete this activity in the class time provided are encouraged to begin reading the next section, The Sieve and the Sand.