Analyzing a Whole Text for Structure: "Civil Disobedience"

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SWBAT analyze and evaluate text structure by considering "Civil Disobedience" as a whole.

Big Idea

Putting the pieces together--analyzing a whole text for structure.

Do Now: Learning Reflection and Work Habits

10 minutes

Students complete our biweekly learning reflection and work habits as their warm-up today. This routine activity requires students to reflect on their growth and on areas for improvement, focusing on what actions they have and can still take to learn. By reflecting on these actions, students take ownership of their own learning.

Text Structure Evaluation Modeling

15 minutes

In previous lessons, students struggled with evaluating text structure (it is, after all, a high order of thinking). Today's goal is to give them new strategies to use during evaluation. We start with modeling.

I ask the class to identify and analyze the text structure in Pursuit of Happyness while I record their thoughts. They see chronological order and problem-solution in the film. For chronological, they explain that the events are shown in order of occurrence and that the film is also organized with headings, such as "this part of my life is called running," to help introduce what happens next. For problem-solution, they identify the problem of poverty and the solutions of hard work and belief in one's self, as shown by Chris Gardner's efforts in his internship.

Next, I move into the actual modeling. To help students better evaluate (they've been far too general so far), I give them two more specific questions to use. What is present in the text for text structure? What is missing? I choose just one of the structures students identified (to save time) and conduct an evaluation. I explain that there is a clear problem in the film, shown through multiple scenes in which Chris is unable to pay important bills and faces bad consequences. There is also a clear depiction of the solution. Chris is shown working hard at his internship and eventually succeeding, and he directly talks about the internship as his ticket out of poverty so that he can take care of his son. What's missing? To me, it seems to be a direct connection. There are multiple solutions to poverty, but taking an unpaid internship is certainly not an immediate one. Still, the evidence that the structure is effective outweighs the lack of a direction connection, making the film itself effective.

I ask what questions exist, but students don't respond. I ask, do you know how to apply this to your own work? Heads nod--now it's time to see if it's true.

"Civil Disobedience" Analysis and Evaluation

20 minutes

I ask students to use the remainder of the hour to analyze and evaluate "Civil Disobedience" as a whole. They've worked with small pieces of the text so far and have extensive notes on the whole text to use as a guide today.

Student Example

Structures used: list of items, compare/contrast, cause/effect
How do you know:
List of items: in the text there is a list of types of men that serve the government, ex: soldiers
Compare/contrast: he compares the government to the devil, and the people to something less, to serve the government like an evil god.
Cause/effect- the government has a lot of control, causing men to give up there pursuit of happiness and freedom for them. Men are treated as robots.
(Cause and effect)- it is not as effective as it could be. It doesn't give a strong cause, nor effect. It is very generalized. The government is bad, that's all you get from it.

I like how this student applied to missing/present criteria to identify a lack of specific proof in the text. While she herself is still a bit vague here, this is an improvement in that her statement is accurate and reveals a true problem in the text.