We begin class today with Vocabulary #11 review. This week's words were gathered from the BBC documentary on the historical context of Of Mice and Men (migrant, burgeoning, disparage, dispossessed), as well as from chapter one of Steinbeck's novella itself (recumbent, mottled, morose, imperious, dejected, anguish).
I have reverted back to giving my students a choice with the vocabulary homework assignment, found on the final slide of the powerpoint. Variety in vocabulary homework is a method I like to maintain in my classroom, so that my students can select the method that works best for them, though in recent weeks, I have sometimes foregone the homework requirement if the whole-group review felt comprehensive enough.
I have since changed my tune, recognizing that my students' quiz scores tend to improve when they have completed a vocabulary homework assignment in addition to the whole-group review. Thus, I have informed them that from here on out, there will always be a vocabulary homework assignment for them to complete with each new set of words. I'm kind of kicking myself for not realizing something this obvious sooner, but I suppose, as I often tell my students they are, I am a forever work in progress!
There is a theory that claims that everything you need to know about the plot of Of Mice and Men is laid out in chapter one, if you know what to look for. Thus, with today's lesson, I plan to put my students on that path of discovery, relying on the literary techniques they explored in The House On Mango Street, and the practice they have had at close reading throughout our units this year (Setting the Scene for Student Discovery). More than anything, I have tried to encourage my students to always ask "why" about what they encounter in a text, for by keeping "why" out in front of a reading experience, it tends to lead to discovery.
The idea is to have them re-read the passages that describe the setting of chapter one and to create a visual representation of what they see. They will label at least ten key details in their drawings, and then compose one paragraph of analysis that explains what the setting might suggest and how it contributes to the story as they understand it thus far. I instruct them to focus on setting alone, and to leave the characters--George and Lennie--out of their depictions.
I allow my students to work in partnerships or in groups of three, this time letting them choose the arrangements. This decision is made based on past experience with projects that are artistic in nature, in that I have noticed that my students truly enjoy engaging in such projects and that very little redirection from me is required (Students Get To Work).
Students spend the remainder of the period working on their chapter one depictions as I circulate and offer assistance whenever requested. I do not anticipate that most, if any, will complete their projects today, and so the process will continue in our next class session.