Escaping the Giant Wave: Cornerstone - Comparing & Contrasting Characters in the Socratic Seminar

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SWBAT discuss how characters are alike and different in the text "Escaping the Giant Wave".

Big Idea

How are the characters in Escaping the Giant Wave alike and different? Time to discuss!

Cue Set

10 minutes

Today is day 2 in a study of comparing & contrasting characters.  Yesterday, we practiced identifying physical and personality traits of characters and today we will compare and contrast those traits.  Then, we will use that to predict how the characters will respond to the upcoming challenge of the tsunami.  The lesson today culminates in student-centered practice during the socratic seminar.  

To begin this lesson, scholars will compare and contrast a photo of the assistant principal and my ELL co-teacher.  Here is the picture of two educators.  Analyzing these photos will provide scholars with concrete practice comparing & contrasting 2 people that they know before they apply this skill to a text.  

I give scholars 3 minutes to look at the picture of two educators and compare/contrast the two educators.  As they are jotting down ideas, I do a quick think aloud that goes something like this: "Hmm, let's see.  Mrs. Tipton and Ms. Spiker are the same because they both work at our school.  Ms. Spiker is an assistant principal and Mrs. Tipton is a teacher.  That's one way they are different.  Let's think about their personalities.... how are some of their personality traits the same?  Different?"  

Doing this type of think aloud helps scholars by getting their juices flowing.  This provides a scaffold or support for scholars who immediately shut down when they are asked to complete a task.  I circulate and support specific scholars as needed.  

After the 3 minute thinking time, scholars take 1 minute and share with their table.  I circulate to one table, listen to their thinking and push them if needed.  Then, I take 2 friends from my cup to share the thinking from their table and 2 volunteers. This helps hold scholars accountable for their discussion and for completion of the comparison.  


Teaching Strategy

15 minutes

We do a super quick review of the notes we took yesterday.  I ask scholars to turn to the notes they took and "review" them.  That means go back, re-read and think about the meaning of the notes.  Then, I point to each table and they tell me one thing we consider when we compare and contrast characters.  This is a fast way to review old material that is relevant to the lesson today.  

Next we do a cloze reading of pages 15-19 in Escaping the Giant Wave.  As we read, I pause and think aloud, stopping to complete the Three way venn diagram comparing and contrasting BeeBee, Darren and Kyle.  As I compare, I consider their physical traits and personality traits.  I model thinking aloud about how these characters will respond to the challenge of the tsunami based on those physical and personality traits.  

Guided Practice

30 minutes

Scholars break into the same heterogeneous partnerships that were assigned at the beginning of the week.  They have 20 seconds to move with their books, pencils and Three Way Venn Diagrams to a comfy place in the room.  They have 30 minutes to complete the Three Way Venn Diagram that compares and contrasts the personality traits and physical traits of Kyle, BeeBee and Darren.  Then, scholars take some time to make a prediction about how Kyle, BeeBee and Darren will respond to the challenge of the natural disaster based on their personality and physical traits.   

The ELL co-teacher partners with 3 scholars in my first class who need more support - 1 for attention and 2 for English speaking needs.  I circulate to all scholars to ensure that they are on task and successful with the comparison.  I give on-the-spot feedback as needed.  


35 minutes

During the seminar today, there are two circles (one inside of another larger circle).  Scholars who are participating in the discussion are in the inner circle. Scholars who are watching/listening and evaluating the discussion sit on the outside of the circle.   

Scholars discuss the following question: 

Describe how BeeBee, Darren and Kyle are alike and different.  How do you think they will respond to the challenge of experiencing a tsunami? 

Scholars in the outer circle give an individual rating to their partner (person who has the same color post-it note on their desk) and an overall rating for the group.  Here is the Rating Scale that scholars use.  The rating is a simple 1 to 5.  Five indicating everyone participates, discussion remains on topic, participants respectfully agree/disagree, discussion is interesting,and participants remain attentive.   

We will do three discussions each lasting 7 minutes so that each group of scholars have an opportunity to discuss.  As scholars discuss, they can continue to take notes on their note taking template.  Completed note taking templates are a part of their checklist items for the week. Also, we will debrief each discussion for 2 minutes before we switch to the next one so that scholars can have on-the-spot feedback and so that the next group can possibly benefit from the feedback.