Perceptions, Actions, and Power in Of Mice and Men

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SWBAT analyze how complex characters develop in a text by citing evidence that reveals whether they are powerful or powerless.

Big Idea

Who has the power in of Mice and Men? I'll let the students decide.

Do Now

15 minutes

For the " Do Now" today, I will ask my students to do a close read of the poem, "To A Mouse" by Robert Burns. (They had to read the poem for homework, but I think a closer read is in order.) I am having them re-read the poem today to answer the following question: Based on what you have read in the poem, why do you think Steinbeck selected the title Of Mice and Men for his novel? Select at least 1 piece of evidence from the poem AND 1 piece of evidence from chapters 1 or 2 (using a post-it note) to support your position. I will ask them to be prepared to share their annotations and responses orally (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c). I am asking students to do this because it is practice with citing evidence to support their analysis of  what the text says (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1) and because I want to see if they can connect with Steinbeck's and Burns' purposes for writing their respective texts.

This "Do Now" connects to today's lesson because through the close reading, students will see that the mouse in the poem was powerless against the person with the plow and hopefully will make the connection between the powerlessness of the mouse in the poem to the powerlessness of some of the characters in Of Mice and Men, especially since Steinbeck developed the title of his book from the poem.

I will ask a few students to come up to the Smart Board to share their annotations with the whole group. I am having them come up to the Smart Board in order to see if they understand the point of the poem and how it connects to Of Mice and Men.


Application: Voting on Pictures-Powerful or Powerless

6 minutes

During this section of the lesson, I will show students several pictures of the characters they met in chapter 2 from the 1992 production of Of Mice and Men with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich using this Of Mice and Men Chapter 2 flipchart. You can download the software to view and create flipcharts by going to Promethen Planet. I'll pass out a small white board to each student and tell them that they will vote with their boards and by standing when I prompt them to do so.  I will ask each student to write two words on their board. I will ask them to write powerless on the far left and powerful on the far right. I will ask them to number the spaces from 0-10 between powerless and powerful (with powerless being a 0 and powerful being a 10).

As I show each picture, students will vote by marking an X on the continuum of powerful and powerless based on the characteristics they notice in the picture (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3).  I'll ask students to stand at various points in this voting process to share evidence from their thinking with the class (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1). When we do this activity, it will be a great way to observe their attention to detail and to see if they can analyze the representation of the characters in two different mediums (print and non-print) (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7).

I am choosing to do this activity because I want students to understand that pictures are texts, and students have to use what they see in the pictures to evaluate the characters. Since they will be doing more of this based on their close readings of the text, it will be interesting to see if their perceptions of the characters in the pictures are the same as the perceptions of characters in the text. At the end of the lesson, I am hoping that we will be able to draw conclusions as to whether the pictures accurately depict the characters in the story (based on what we have read so far).

Sinise, G. (Director). (1992). Of Mice and Men. [Film]. Beverly Hills: Metro Goldwyn-Meyer.

Building Knowledge: Perceptions and Circumstances

10 minutes

For the Building Knowledge section of the lesson, I will model (again) how to complete the perceptions, actions, and power chart. This video  provides a bit of an explanation of how the chart is used. I modeled this with the character, Candy, for the class during the last class session, but due to a shortened period, students did not get a chance to work on any of them. In the chart, they will be citing evidence from the text (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1) and analyzing the actions of characters (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3), so I think this warrants a re-mix, so I will model it again. I want to clarify how I want my students to collect evidence for the chart and how they should use that evidence to explain what it reveals about the character.

Application: Independent Practice

40 minutes

For this section of the lesson, I will ask my students to complete their evidence, perceptions and actions chart. They will work with a partner for 30 minutes to chart their evidence, explain what the evidence tells about the character and to evaluate whether the character is powerful or powerless. I am giving them 30 minutes of partner time because it is always great to see students working together, discussing, building on each others' ideas and learning together (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1). It also allows me time to listen and facilitate (when necessary) While my students are working together, I will be circulating to each pair of partners to check in on their progress and to ask questions that will help deepen their discussions about the characters.

After 30 minutes of partner time, I will also give them 10 minutes of time to work silently by themselves to finish any unfinished  items. This is something new that I am trying. I have noticed that sometimes working with partners takes more time-- it is a social activity and students don't always get to finish because they have been discussing each item. This will also tell me whether they can do the work on their own.


12 minutes

At the end of the lesson, I will ask students to turn to the closure activity at the end of their charts. I am asking them to go back to working with a partner to select one character and explain how much control the character has over his/her circumstances. They must cite at least two specific examples from chapter 2 to support their answers (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1). I am having them do this because the responses will tell me if my students can evaluate the characters' actions and reactions and whether they truly understand how complex characters interact with one another to advance the plot (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3). In other words, this is a great closure activity because it will serve as an assessment of whether students truly understand these characters' motivations.