It is National Tortilla Chip Day, and we have a Monday Mindbender to kick things off this week. Today's Mindbender is my own variation on a classic riddle:
"When Jim was out shoveling his driveway, his father-in-law’s only daughter’s mother-in-law stopped by to visit. If he did not use her given name, what did Jim call her?"
I also take this time to return last week's graded work to the students. Daily Holidays and Monday Mindbenders encourage a sense of student ownership and community in the classroom, and the Mindbenders nurture a bit of healthy competition as well. Students do take pride in correct answers, and provide teachable moments when they have incorrect answers. Additionally, this time is ideal for housekeeping issues, conferencing with students who may be behind on work, as noted above, returning work.
In order to demonstrate understanding of how complex characters (e.g. the outcasts of Poker Flat, who all appear to be one thing, but revel their "goodness" over the course of the story) develop, interact with other characters, and reveal the local colors of the Gold Rush (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3), students have completed "Wanted" poster for the character, identifying the positive traits ("The Good"), negative traits ("The Bad"), fates ("The Ugly"), and similar characters that share the given archetype of each character ("Professional Gambler", "Southern Gentleman", etc.).
Today, students present theses posters to the class, including strong and thorough textual evidence (direct quotes) to support their analysis of the characters (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1). Students present their ideas and supporting evidence with their groups, in front of the class, using the poster as a visual aid, in a manner that allows the class to take notes on the other characters, with a clear line of reasoning and appropriate style (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4) for the class.
These students present on The Duchess, the "Fallen Woman/Prostitute with a Heart of Gold" from the story. They address all parts of the presentation; and do a nice job of incorporating vocab (maudlin) and other possible examples of archetypes (Curly's Wife in "Of Mice and Men" and Vivian in "Pretty Woman") and it gives us a chance to address confusion in reading, as they crossed lines between the introduction to Mother Shipton (the accused witch) and The Duchess.
I chose to have students present these posters in order to turn the teaching and learning over to them, providing the opportunity for ownership and variety in instruction.
I also am able to evaluate the posters as they present, to ensure students understand characterization and archetypal characters.
Additionally, as we have not addressed formal presentations in class this semester, so this also serves as an informal, formative assessment of those Speaking and Listening skills, in order to gaugewhat I will need to teach/reteach/review as the semester progresses.
I remind students they should be reading "Naturalism," Jack London's biography and "The Law of Life," looking for examples of how "The Law of Life" utilizes the characteristics of Naturalism provided in the reading. This reading is due once we have completed the presentations. "The Law of Life" is a short story, and I feel confident students will be able to make time to "fit it in" on their own over the next few days.