To get back into the swing of things, we will start a little slower than we usually do today and try to ease the students back into our classroom procedures and policies. Making sure that they didn't lose what it means to be a student in my class after two weeks of being on holiday break seems like a good way to start things.
We will start by moving them into new seats and then follow that with a discussion of our academic goals and expectations for the semester. I will remind them that our grades have all started over, so for some, this is a great opportunity at a second chance.
To help them do some reflection and review of their own role in their success, we will ask them to fill out a brief survey. This survey includes information from our teacher evaluation rubric, which is new to us this year, but asks for us to reflect on how students respond to certain ideas. Additionally, this survey asks them to review their own data from the grade book to create academic/transcript goals for this coming term.
This will take the place of SSR today, a practice we plan to continue this semester, but which we felt could be on hold for a few days so that we can reaffirm other classroom norms first.
Rather than jumping right back into content, my teaching partner and I decided it would be better to make our first lesson of the semester something a little less formal that will allow students to catch up with one another socially while also having some academic conversations with each other about how an artist presents his or her unique point of view and possible biases (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.3 and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6).
To do this, we set up music stations that ask students to analyze songs that address revolutionary themes from a more contemporary perspective. We will provide a listening guide with questions/analysis reminders as well.The purpose of this activity is to help students recall themes/ideas about revolution post break, but also to push them back into academic thinking in a fun sort of way.
Each station will have a recording of the song and a set of lyrics copied so that students can read along/understand what is being communicated through the written portion of the song. We will have them work in their new Faulkner Squares.
We are working with music today for a few reasons. Music is visceral, so we are hoping that the students will have an emotional connection/response to what they hear. Music is also fairly easy to interpret, so as they analyze the bias/point of view of each singer/song, our hope is that they will be able to use their interpretations to understand some of the emotional reasons to be revolutionary. Most importantly, though, I want students to have opportunities to dig into a wide variety of artwork in a wide variety of forms. Our course is built to be a humanities style learning experience. It would be a shame to ignore music within this structure.
Each group will be responsible for analyzing three of the fourteen songs available for analysis. I will give them about ten minutes per station, which should allow them time to listen to the song at least once and to review the printed lyrics with their group. It should also allow them time to discuss their findings before writing details down.
Many of these songs have been gathered by my much more musically inclined common course colleague, so I can't vouch for all of their musical quality (he is something of a metal head=), but here is the list we worked from that might give you an idea of where to start:
To wrap this activity up, we will have the students share their ideas through a numbered heads together discussion. These discussions (taken from a training I did for teaching ELL students) ask groups of four students to discuss questions to make sure that all four people could answer if called on. Each group will receive a number and each student will receive a number within their group. I will roll dice to determine which group and which person is responsible for answer each question out loud.
We will focus on the three questions from their listening guide:
What revolutionary ideas are being presented?
What changes are being called for?
What does these songs say about revolution?
I will also have the students review their notes to identify what information was explicitly stated in the text vs. what they had to infer based on background knowledge or on research (gathered from their smartphones in class=). This is a specific task meant to help me gauge how well they are meeting standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1, (or CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 depending on what kind of text you are reading). which doesn't just ask them to cite textual evidence, but asks them to identify what is explicit in a text vs. what is implied.
As we move towards the end of the year, I want them to be more meta-cognitive about their own reading/interpretation so that they are able to cite evidence for a variety of reasons and in a more sophisticated way than I expected last semester.
This final section will be used to give a little second semester pep talk and to remind them about their scholarly responsibilities in regards to A Tale of Two Cities. We will also use this time to talk about our new building tardy policy (i.e. don't be tardy=) and to just work a little on that essential community building (read here=fun banter) that is so essential for a strong and productive classroom.