In our last lesson (see "The Story's Voice: Identifying & Analyzing Narrative Point of View"), students defined, identified, and began evaluating the impact of specific narrative points of view have on the plot structure of stories (RL 11-12.6). I provide/remind students of the model from the last lesson: in "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," the switch limited and objective narration in builds suspense by keeping the reader "in the dark" as to the main character's (Peyton Farquhar) motivations and actions that led to his hanging.
In order to review point of view for tomorrow's class, we "go through" RRN Narrative Point of View guide orally; I project the guide on the front screen and ask for a student volunteer to type the point/s of view of each story. As we identify each story's point of view, I challenge students to evaluate how the point of view impacts the story; for example, how would the story have been different if the reader had been able to see Peyton Farquahar's thoughts throughout, or if the reader had been able to see the Captain conducting the hanging's point of view? In order to model this, i refer back to the film version of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (see "Making the Story 'Real': Film Analysis of 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"), and I ask students to consider what the impact of being able to read/see Peyton's flashback to his entrapment and capture attempting to sabotage had on their viewing of the film (RL 9-10.7).
We continue through the stories in this manner, identifying the points of view and asking the students what impact the points of view have. The note-taker is only required to copy the points of view, the discussion is shared and students may take the notes they see fit.
Point of View is a significant element to any story, and until out short story units, the points of view were, for the most part, first person ("The Catcher in the Rye" or non-fiction persuasion). Addressing point of view provides a capstone to the short story unit, a common thread between all of the stories, but also provides a way to transition into our look at Level Three questioning in the next section. I modeled level three questioning when I asked students to consider (or predict) how the story would have been impacted by a change in narrative point of view.
In order to develop students' own questions (see "Wrapping Up Short Stories: The Saga of a Half Day"), I share the poem on the first page of this handout on Coasta's Levels of Questioning. Identifying "Level Three" as where we want our questions to be. I pass out a handout made of the second and fourth pages (page number 81 and 82), and discuss the difference in levels: Level One questions are recall of facts, important, but not requiring an ability to extend that knowledge. Level Two questions are explanation questions, identifying how and why. Level Three questions are, I tell the students, the ones I get excited about, the questions that call on you to judge and evaluate, like we did with "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," or call on you to play the "what if" game. But, I stress, that "what if" game needs to be rooted in textual evidence.
I ask students to turn to a seat buddy (someone seated near them) and trade questions they wrote with the Test Review.
The following directions are written on the whiteboard:
1. Find a partner and trade questions.
2. Read each other's questions.
A. Can you answer them?
B. Evaluate the questions; what level do they fall under?
3. Together, revise the questions so that they are "Level Three": These should require knowledge of the story, explanation of that knowledge, and some sort of extension or "what if."
*As you revise and craft new questions, please make sure you are addressing the ideas of Realism, Regionalism, and/or Naturalism, especially how the details of the story are important to those literary movements (RL 9-10.2) or characterization and the character's role in the story (RL 9-10.3)
As students practice writing and asking "Level Three" questions, I circulate the room, looking at what they are asking and coaching them to continue looking "deeper" into the material. I ask students to focus on the components of RL 9-10.2 and RL 9-10.3 because these have been the driving standards in our look at short stories, and literary elements and characterization are, in my mind, the easiest for students to hypothesize about.
I address Level Three questioning to provide students a chance to both take ownership of the material, and to practice, develop, and refine critical thinking skills. Level Three questions are the style of questions being asked on tomorrow's unit unit test short answers, and will help prepare students for those responses. The Common Core Standards call for rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills ties directly in to the motivation of Level Two and Three questions for students to "think critically and...deepen their knowledge and create connections to the material being presented."
As noted in the reflection, below, some student examples include:
1. Color is important in "The Open Boat" to describe the Ocean. Evaluate how effective the color of the sea is at showing the danger to the men on the boat.
2. Mrs. Mallard was not happy in her marriage ["The Story of an Hour"]; predict what would have happened if she had not had a heart attack.
3. What if Koskoosh's son came back for him ["The Law of Life"]?
With two minutes remaining, I ask students to return to their regular seats, and remind them that their only homework is to study: their test on Realism, Regionalism, and Naturalism is tomorrow.