Final drafts of my students' theme essays on Of Mice and Men are finally due today, and so the first few minutes of class are devoted to assembling and stapling together the pieces of the process that they will be turning in with their typed finished products. Process pieces include:
I always enjoy the sense of accomplishment most students exhibit on days like this, as they hand over the small stack of hard work to me.
When all essays are in, I explain to my students that I am going to show them a series of books on a slideshow, and that while they watch, I want them to see if they can determine what these books have in common. I begin scrolling through a series of ten books that were 2012's most challenged, pausing to allow my students to react and respond to the titles, especially to those that they may know and/or may have read. NOTE: I do my best to disguise the web address, which reveals "banned books" in the title, by strategically projecting the images so that the tops of them fade into the classroom ceiling. Not ideal, but it should suffice.
When we make it through all ten slides, I then ask for any ideas for what these books have in common. Once determined, whether by student suggestion or my own necessity to explain, we scroll through the books again, this time revealing and reading the small print at the bottom that explains why the books were challenged.
After the conversation over these ten banned books, I show my students this faux news clip that expounds upon the practice of book banning in a cheeky way.
I then explain that we are acknowledging our own Banned Books Week this week, even though the actual week takes place each year in September, in that we have just completed a notoriously banned book (Of Mice and Men) and are about to begin another famously challenged book (To Kill a Mockingbird). We will be reading a series of articles that address the practice of book banning, and my students will be identifying the arguments both for and against the practice.
For the final portion of class, my students are strategically partnered with one another to identify the arguments for and against book banning that are mentioned in the article "What Johnny Can't Read." I instruct them to use a page in their classroom spiral notebooks to set up a chart where they can identify at least three arguments for and three arguments against.
Each student creates his/her own chart, though the reading and identification of arguments are performed as a partnership. This is a task my students have performed before in this lesson, and is a practice that mirrors certain tasks on the Smarter Balanced Assessment my students will be taking in the Spring. I pair my struggling readers with a stronger partner, in order to continue building confidence with reading comprehension, which tends to be a result of hearing how another student thinks and works through a text.
This activity will probably take up the remaining time left in class, so that we will postpone the whole-group review of the article until the next class session. If any students are unable to complete the task in class, then they are instructed to complete it for homework.