A Look at Local Color: Reading Check & Regional Mapping

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SWBAT draw on prior knowledge, responding to diverse opinions, in order to create a representation of the Regional characteristics of America.

Big Idea

We can use a GPS to look up where a place is, but students have preconceived notions of what the character of the place might be.

Welcome & Introduction: Get A Different Name Day

8 minutes

I welcome students to "Get a  Different Name Day," and poll how many would, if given the opportunity, pick a change of name. I also ask students if they would, what would they change their name to?

Daily Holidays and conversations like this one serve to build a sense of community and trust within the classroom, encouraging students to share their thoughts and participate in a wide range of discussions, build on others' ideas, express their own ideas clearly (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1). In addition, the practice developing and supply evidence for their claims--even in an informal situation--should translate to students' writing as we develop more critical and evaluative pieces this semester (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1b).  

Reading Check: Plot Points in "The Notorious Jumping Frog"

10 minutes

In order to ensure students have read the story, "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," we review some of the significant plot points in the story, citing textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1). I pass the Jumping Frog Reading Check out to the students, project a copy on the board in the front of the room, and ask for a volunteer to copy the class' answers as we review. 

I chose to use an oral review in order to engage students who tend to participate passively; I can call on those who I am confident have read the story as well as those whose hands are up and willing to participate actively. As these review questions are drawn from the items I will use on the unit test, students end up with a text=specific study guide. 

Mapping Local Color: Understanding American Regionalism (Part 1)

30 minutes

To continue our look at local color and Regionalism, and give students a conceptual framework for understanding, students will be mapping the major Regions of the United States, as well as two "sub-regions" in order to provide an element of personalization, student ownership, to the project. 

Students are divided into groups at random, thematically connecting with the "gambler" characters of Jim Wheeler in "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" and John Oakhurst in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat", students draw a card from a half-deck when they enter the classroom. Groups are determined by the number, Aces all work together, Kings together, etc. These groups will remain together as we look at both short stories. The deck was "stacked" ahead of time to provide the right number of members per group (four, in the case of this project). A few cards be separate at the bottom, and subtly handed to students in the event they can or cannot work together. For these classes, that was not necessary, but I did leave a Joker in the deck because of the uneven numbers of students; the Joker can select his or her own group. As students are working collaboratively and sharing preconceived notions, personal prejudices, and possibly parental prejudices, I make sure to stress to treat the people and ideas from each region with respect. 

By explicitly drawing on their prior knowledge and preconceived notions about the regions of America, students stimulate a thoughtful exchange of ideas (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a). Working in collaborative groups, students have the opportunity to respond to diverse perspectives if they arise, qualify or justify their own views if challenged, and make new connections or reactions to others in light of their peers' perspectives (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d).

Students are provided with copies of the National Geographic Xpeditions map (available for classroom use) of the United States, with all names removed. Groups draw what they estimate the boarders of each region are, labeling them. On the accompanying t-chart, groups then identify the archetypes (type of people) and stereotypes (widely-held beliefs) associated with the area, in order to identify the local color of a region. Finally, students place examples, drawn from the literature we have read this year, in the region they are set, discussing how the setting impacts the story. To model, I will return to our conversation about Native American mythology from the beginning of the year, identifying aspects of the Pima and Iroquois creation story that distinct set the stories in the West and Northeast, respectively. 

This project is designed to spread two class periods (sample work in progress), so for homework this evening, students are challenged to add to their examples of archetypes and stereotypes, conducting some independent research in order to demonstrate understanding of the regions' local color (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7). This information will be incorporated into the map and chart tomorrow. 

Two-Minute Warning: Wrap-Up & Reminders, Homework

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining, I call groups back to their seats, reminding them that for homework this evening, they need to find any example of archetypal characters and stereotypical behavior to add to their charts for tomorrow. 

They also have two days to read the biographical sketch of Bret Harte and Harte's short story, "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" as we continue our look at Regionalism.