This is the fourth and last day in a series of lessons on character change using a set of short stories by Ludmila Zeman. By all accounts the students enjoy the stories but I discover that they are getting lazy! It turns out that few are marking up the text (by noting important plot events, answers to the questions and interesting or confusing parts) and fewer still are adding captions to their illustrations. So on the fly, I scrap the plans I had in mind for getting class started and come up with a new plan. The students have the first ten minutes of class to get their answers to the comprehension questions for Last Quest of Gilgamesh into tip-top shape. This includes adding details to their illustrations and an informative caption that leaves no doubt about what is going on in the scene. Those that completed the task appropriately get to share their work with fellow classmates, thus inspiring those who did not. While students complete this task, I circulate around the room checking in homework and offering encouragement and direction to those that need it.
When developing these lessons, I contemplated whether or not to have students include drawings, but I am really glad I did. The students read a version of The Last Quest of Gilgamesh that did not include illustrations and they look forward to seeing how their drawings (see the attached resources for samples 1, 2 & 3) compare to those in the illustrated edition. Giant scorpions, deadly waters, evil goddesses – what could be more exciting?
It takes longer than I thought it would to make our way through the text because of all they have to say. Now don't get me wrong, that’s a good thing! As we page through the book, we review the answers to the comprehension questions and students make adjustments to their answers as necessary. During the discussion, I make a point of drawing out details that relate to our focus for this unit: how characters change and grow as the plot unfolds. No matter how difficult the circumstances, Gilgamesh never waivers from his devotion to his friends. He has come a long way from the lonely, selfish ruler we met in the first book. Through careful examination of the text, students are able to look at his actions and make inferences about his motivations.
To wrap up this series, we take a few minutes to summarize what we now know and understand about how characters change through the circumstances they experience. Thoughts on the development and effectiveness of this exit ticket appear here:
Many of the answers to the third question describe the importance of looking “inside” a character and trying to figure out “why they do what they do” and that it means paying attention from “the beginning all the way to the end” of a story.