Helping students to relate to main characters increases their interest and deeper understanding of the characters conflicts. I ask students to first think of three words that describe their feelings about young Richard Wright, and then why those words describe his childhood. Students then write the 3 Words in their journals with a short explanation of why they wrote them W.9-10.10.
I ask them to share their explanations with a partner as I circulate among them and listen to their conversations SL.9-10.1.
I want to assist my reluctant readers to increase their interaction with the literature they are reading. For this to happen I understand that I can no longer be the sole source of information about the text, or the arbiter of what is a correct or incorrect interpretation of its words. This can be challenging for me in my present class because many of my students have mastered the mind set of "learned helplessness." The symptom of this mind set is students needing the teacher to always answer the questions for them and that they are willing participants when it doesn't require to much independent thought or analysis. Some days they are more hooked into this mind set than others...could it be the weather?
This Making Meanings writing activity will hopefully give my students an opportunity to develop and use their strong mental muscles. As required in standard RI.9-10.3, their individual interpretations of events, strongly supported in the text, become more important than simply finding answers to closed-ended questions I ask.
In this lesson my role is that of a coach and questioner. I explain this process to my students as well as express my high expectations of them writing answers to the questions that require analysis and evidence from the text RI.9-10.1 to support their thinking .
I model answering the first question by using the Think Aloud strategy. I first read the question aloud, "Wright works in swift strokes to draw sharp images of his life. Which images stand out most clearly in your mind?" Then I begin analyzing the question by saying aloud, "Ok, swift means quick and images are pictures created in my mind. What are some events that occurred in Richard's life that create a sharp image? I'm thinking about when he burned the curtains and used a metaphor to describe what he saw. I will re-read that passage to get the correct image and evidence that supports it..."
I then re-read the passage aloud and write my answer on the paper using the docucamera so the class can see what I wrote.
I then ask students to comment on my modeling by asking questions such, "How did I approach the answer?" "What questions did I ask myself?" "Why did I re-read the passage?"
I pass out the Making Meanings questions and ask students to begin with the first question that I modeled for them. I explain that making mental images of what you are reading while you are reading is an effective strategy that increases comprehension and engagement in the text.
To get a sense of student understanding as well as helping them learn from each others answers, I ask students to share and analyze their Making Meanings answers while I facilitate reporting out SL.9-10.1.