Dissecting Dialogue in Of Mice and Men

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SWBAT analyze character development in chapter 1 of "Of Mice and Men" by translating dialogue into narrative form.

Big Idea

He says, She says..Students transform dialogue into narrative form

Do Now: Anticipation Guide

15 minutes

When students enter the room, I will ask them to complete an anticipation guide for Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. The anticipation guide appears in the literature guide that can be purchased at http://www.4secondarysolutions.com/Of_Mice_and_Men_Literature_Guide_p/lg24334.htm , but a similar anticipation guide can be found at this site. After students complete the anticipation guide, I am having them tally their responses with a group of 4. I am having them do this so that they can hear the diverse perspectives (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d ) of other people in the class and share their beliefs in ways that are positive and tolerant of other viewpoints. After the group discussions, I will do a quick share out with the whole group by asking 1 person from each group to share results to a few of the questions.

Reading Informational Texts

10 minutes

For this section of the lesson, I will ask my students to read a short biographical article about John Steinbeck. The purpose of reading this article is to understand Steinbeck's background and to consider how that background might impact the topics about which he wrote.  After reading, they will practice citing evidence from the text to explain what the text says (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1). The article shares both professional and personal information about John Steinbeck, so my students will be able to refer back to this biographical information after reading the novel to see if there are any connections. Check out this resource (which includes a video about the life of John Steinbeck) http://www.biography.com/people/john-steinbeck-9493358#synopsis&awesm=~oIlcCYBEDooFFV .

After reading the article, students will work with a partner to answer 5 text-dependent questions.  I am having students partner up because they generally benefit from collaborative learning, and I really want them to discuss these answers before putting pen to paper (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a ). My students will need to go back to the text to do the following (all in complete sentences)

1) list the 8 novels mentioned in chronological order

2) compare and contrast Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath

3) discuss what Steinbeck mostly wrote about

4) write two research questions about Steinbeck that they would like to know more about.

I am asking students to answer these questions about Steinbeck because his background serves as motivation for his writing Of Mice and Men. I also want my students to be aware of other texts that Steinbeck has written in case they decide that they love his writing so much that they want to read more.

Video 1 and Video 2 show pairs of students working together to gather details about Steinbeck's life to answer the questions.

Listening and Reading

20 minutes

In this part of the lesson, I am using an audio version of  Of Mice and Men from http://www.dedicationtechnologies.com/oman/ and having my students read along. This particular audio version is a dramatic reading of the book, and when I say dramatic, I mean dramatic. I have chosen it because the beginning of the book starts off kind of slow. Steinbeck purposefully goes into great detail to describe the setting of the book. My ninth graders will be asleep after the first paragraph, so I think whetting their appetites for reading this book with a dramatic reading of a portion of chapter 1 will just do the trick. The teacher on the audio does a fantastic job of creating the voices of George and Lennie. I'll begin by reading the first couple of pages to them, but when the dialogue between George and Lennie begins, I'll roll the audio.  I'll stop the audio at different points to have my students discuss what they think of the characters and their relationships and to have them predict what might happen in the future and speculate on what has happened in the characters' pasts. This is practice developing listening skills (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c), but the dramatic reading will also help them to visual the characters and really get into the characterization in this chapter.

Building Knowledge: Analyzing Dialogue

15 minutes

In this part of the lesson, I will model for students how to re-read examples of dialogue from the text in order to convert them to narrative form and explain what the dialogue tells the reader about the people that are speaking.

After the model, I will have my students re-read three additional examples of dialogue from chapter 1 to do the following:

1) Convert to narrative form

2) State the purpose of the dialogue in chapter 1

I am having them do this because dialogue is the primary way that we get to know all about George and Lennie...and we learn a lot about them in chapter 1.

This clip shows a couple of students analyzing the characters by translating the dialogue and speculating about the purpose of the dialogue.

Analyzing the dialogue in chapter one will help students analyze the development of the two characters in the chapter (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3). This will become important by the time we get to the end of Of Mice and Men.


10 minutes

For closure, I am having my students answer the following question:

Cite at least 3 descriptive details about the setting. What mood do these descriptions create? What is Steinbeck trying to say about the Salinas River?

I am having my students answer these questions because it is important that they get a sense of the calm, serene setting that begins the story to fully appreciate all of the chaos to come. We'll come back to this question about why Steinbeck begins the book this way after we have read some of the action.


For homework, students that have not completed their dialogue sheet will have an opportunity to complete it. I will be collecting them next class.