I begin class by addressing the questions from the prior lesson's exit ticket that I found were repeatedly addressed by the students. The questions ranged from things such as, "I still think that Mr. Mead and Clarisse's uncle are the same character. Am I right?" and "I don't understand why Montag did things he knew would make him get caught." A vast majority of the questions turned out to be more related to building connections between ideas or related to the sometimes ambiguous nature of things that allow for multiple interpretations. With that in mind, I added this day's lesson to our calendar in order to facilitate a discussion and let them talk through it all, providing guidance and clarification when necessary. I explain this plan to the students, briefly, and then give them a few minutes to find the various texts we have read this year by Ray Bradbury, as well as any notes they have taken and work they have done with each.
Once the students have found and organized their texts, notes, and other supplementary materials as requested, I set the stage for our next task. I explain to the students that I will be asking a few questions of the class, some that came from the student's the day before, and a couple of my own as well. I try to focus primarily on the questions the students came up with because I believe that will be the most effective means to make the connections and develop that next level of understanding they seek. I feel that, the more the students drive the discussion, the more engaging it will be for them and the more they will take from it. I simply try to keep things on track and productive, changing directions only when we appear to have exhausted an option or an idea.
I must tell you, this discussion looked and sounded very different from one idea to the next and certainly from one class to the next. One class really seemed to focus in on the characters, their relationships within a text, and the similarities and differences in that from one text to another. Another class focused in on themes they saw consistently among the text and then looking at how the theme grew or progressed over time, looking primarily at Bradbury's choices as an author. I did not want to make the different classes force their thinking into a one-size-fits-all type of discussion. I wanted them to be able to go in the direction and at the pace they felt was appropriate and necessary as much as possible. You may want to focus it in more, or in a different direction, but I truly found this to be incredibly beneficial and effective, regardless of the direction the discussions took.
Once the discussion concludes, I ask the students to write a list of three things from the discussion that offered a different perspective they found to be intriguing, that helped them to develop a clearer understanding of a particular concept or idea, or that surprised them.
In fairness, this is mostly for the intents and purposes of having the students most appropriately and legitimately gain a sense of closure. I will read each of the lists, but not for evaluative purposes. Instead, I simply want to learn more about how they felt the discussion had gone, what they took away from it, etc. For the vast majority of students, there appeared to be a large number and variety of takeaways. Only two or three of them wrote responses that seemed superficial or trivial, and as disappointing as that may be, the fact that the others were able to get so much from it more than makes up for it. I have made sure to share Some Comments From Students here for you!