To start class, I will give one general question to check for reading comprehension:
Using the reading, explain how a hard life can be good for a person. (W.9-10.10)
They have read several chapters on their own; therefore, a typical text recall quiz may not be the fairest assessment; instead I am looking for thoughtful analysis. This one question can be answered in many ways, which means that as long as they have read, they can respond thoroughly. Magwich's struggles are the most obvious example of someone who proves the statement true, but students could also reference Miss Havisham's experiences or Pip's reflections to illustrate how selfishness can impair one's growth. Here are three examples: Example 1, Example 2, and Example 3.
Not only does this question tell me who read, but it also leads into a future discussion on theme. We are supposed to compare Magwich and Miss Havisham and see that generosity trumps selfishness and that money don't equal class.
We are going to read chapter 56 together in class. In this chapter, Pip tells Magwich, who is taking his last breaths, that his daughter lives and that Pip loves her. It's a beautiful moment between them and I love reading it with the class because it shows how much Magwich has taught Pip about being kind and generous, instead of selfish and snobby (RL.9-10.3).
This chapter is short, but the beginning is a bit slow. I stop often in the beginning an ask probing questions, in order to continually reengage students. Questions like, "why is Magwich having trouble breathing?," remind us that Magwich is in a lot pain. We talk briefly about why it is so painful to break your ribs and how such an injury could cost Magwich his life. This type of conversation builds their compassion for him and his situation, especially since Magwich is bearing the pain so admirably. I also ask about Pip in this scene: his feelings toward the convict have completely transformed. It is important for the class to consider why that change occurred and what it shows about Pip's growth as a person. Although I am the one directing the conversation, I know that student opinion will drive the conversation.
In the last few minutes of class, we will pay homage to Magwich, as only an English class can: we will write short eulogies for him (W.9-10.3). This is a great low-stakes writing assignment that is fun because it's different and quirky; plus it asks students to evaluate their knowledge of the character and make selections about what to include in their final statement about the man. In this clip, one student reads her eulogy aloud (the last line is clutch!). Like Pip, many of the students did not like Magwich at first-- he was a scary and untrustworthy convict to them-- but also like Pip, their perceptions of him have changed. The eulogies offer closure for a character we have grown to love.