Analyzing the Progression of Mood
Lesson 8 of 10
Objective: Students will be able to analyze how characters, mood, and setting interact by rereading Act 1 and citing evidence in a plot diagram.
I introduced the term "superlative adjective" to students today. First, we reviewed what an adjective is--a word that describes a noun. A superlative adjective then, makes comparisons. It tells what is the brightest, the smartest, the tallest, the smallest, etc. Therefore, in the third line from the bottom, you would say "the world's tallest buildings" rather than "the world's most tall buildings."
We also encountered another semicolon today. The semicolon is used to combine two short sentences that are about the same thing. A semicolon allows you to join those two simple sentences without using a comma and a conjunction.
Creating a Cast List
Today we reread Act 1 with the students reading the play aloud. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have asked students on Tuesday what roles they would like to read as an exit ticket and spent Tuesday night assigning roles. However, I'm a wee bit sick, my co-teacher has a substitute two days to work on progress reports, and I wasn't thinking clearly. That meant that I had to do this in class, very quickly. I will not make this mistake with my co-taught classes. No, no I will not.
I gave scrap sheets of paper to students and asked them, first of all, to write their names on the paper. Then I asked them to list the two characters they would most like to read aloud. Everybody was going to get to/have to read aloud, and I wanted their feedback. I didn't necessarily want to assign one of the lead characters to the quietest, shyest kid in class unless they really wanted that. There's a difference between encouraging students to participate and torturing a kid, so I ask for their preferences.
I already had a table from previous years set up. It's just a list of the characters with extra columns for each of my classes. All I have to do is look at their requests, type in names, and voila! We have a cast list.
For my first hour, since there are twenty-eight students and not that many characters, I split the class in half so everybody got to read. Some students got to read two roles! Active participation for everyone! That means that in the picture, the column for 2nd hour isn't actually 2nd hour. It's the second group in first hour. That works out okay for me because I have second hour prep.
Like I said in the previous section, my first hour was big enough to split into two reading groups. I tried having both groups in the classroom, but they were so close together in the reading, that I was having trouble focusing. So I kicked one group out to the hallway.
I nominated two students for the task of keeping everyone on task. They were students that I knew were respected by their peers, who are leaders, and who wanted it. There was a stronger group, and a weaker group, so I spent more time hovering around the weaker group. Essentially, they were reading the play aloud, so I didn't have too much to do. I could just listen to the kids read aloud and giggle about playing a character's wife.
Prior to setting them loose, I gave them their focus. The day before, we'd analyzed the mood of the setting in both Act 1 and Act 2. Act 1 is a cheery, comfortable, neighborly setting. Act 2 is sinister, suspicious, and isolating setting. The question today, then, is how did that happen? How did the characters go from trusting each other and hanging out with each other to targeting one person for all their suspicion and standing guard over them? What words did the author use to get from one point to the other?
While they read, I asked them to look for those moments--those moments where we see the characters start turning on each other. I asked them to look for the specific words that the author used to progress the plot. I instructed them to use the highlighter tape to mark those parts of the text that led to the suspicion building.
I'd tried to use the highlighter tape a few days earlier with close reading, but it just didn't work. It worked exceptionally well for this, however. As they were reading, when they came across a character's lines that showed the progression of the mood, they could peel off a piece of highlighter tape, place it in the book, and keep going. It took seconds, unlike pausing to actually write the lines down on a plot diagram.
Once the groups were done reading, I asked them to begin to fill out the plot diagram. We'd already talked about the conflict, but we reminded ourselves of that conflict--the problem is that when weird things start happening, the neighbors turn on each other.
I asked them to ignore the climax, since we weren't there yet. Considering just the exposition and rising action, what events helped progress the plot? Which events, which words, helped create the suspicion of the characters? Since the students had used the highlighter tape to mark those sections, they could easily return to those passages to cite their evidence.
Students ended up with about fifteen minutes to work on the plot diagram before we reconvened so they could share out their discoveries.
I was able to use those plot diagrams as a formative assessment to see what we needed to focus on most. It was clear that they didn't know what the climax was, and that we would need to spend quite a bit of time discussing conflict.