We are all ready for it: the ending. What happens to Pip? Will he find happiness? The students are coming into class, having read chapter 57 for homework, so they know Pip's plan to apologize to Biddy and move back to the forge. Now we get to experience it all together. We will read chapter 58 using the scripts for Reader's Theater (RL.9-10.10). It is a format the students really enjoy and the collaborative nature of the activity seems to be fitting closure.
We are going to read today, but I'm concerned about time. We have twelve pages left and I'm torn between taking our time with the reading, so we can ask questions, focus on the language, and react appropriately, or reading quickly, so that we are guaranteed to finish by the bell. I really want to have the full hour for a theme activity this afternoon (our next class), but I also don't want to compromise their understanding of the ending.
I'm going to gauge the temperature of the class and make my decision in the moment, but I will probably slow down; I'm not one to sacrifice understanding in the name of time, even though time can frustrate me so. If we go too quickly, they may react purely judgmentally toward Joe and Biddy's betrothal. Usually their first reaction is repulsion because they do not understand that they are good for each other and the fact they end up together reinforces a main message of the text. They just think it's gross that Biddy marries an older man (to be young..), but when they start to talk about what kind of people Joe and Biddy, they begin to realize how and why they end up together, just as Pip does (RL.9-10.3). Pip learns what is truly important in life from Joe and Biddy; they finally become his role models, rather than the aristocrats he once admired.
Pausing while we are reading to address some of their first reactions will help them see past the initial shock and understand why Joe and Biddy needed to end up together: they always understood what it took a lifetime to learn, namely that success in life doesn't depend upon social class, but upon generosity of spirit. We know he learns this because he asks both Joe and Biddy to forgive him, and even though they insist there is nothing to forgive, he still needed to say it. He is no longer the selfish kid who couldn't face his own faults.
In the last few moments of class, I want to hear their thoughts, not just about the ending, but about the text as a whole. It will be very simple. Each student will show in one hand their rating of the text from 1-4. Did they love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between? I asked them to do the same thing after the first stage of Pip's expectations and the response was more positive than I expected, so my hopes are high!
And the results are in.. Their Rating of the Novel