After the quiz, I announce to my students that today is the day that we begin reading To Kill a Mockingbird. While whole-group reading is always a part of my teaching of a text, especially first chapters, this in particular is a chapter that I recommend reading aloud with students, for reasons further explained here. I will plan to start the reading and continue through at least the first three pages before I pass the duties on to student volunteers.
I anticipate that I will need to do a bit of explaining during the first three pages, as Harper Lee has Scout chronicle a rather confusing-to-the-average-13-year-old Finch family history. I have kept this portion of the lesson task-free so that my students can simply listen and ask any questions that may occur along the way.
We stop reading when there is around fifteen minutes left of class so that I can explain the on-going assignment I will be requiring from my students throughout our reading of To Kill a Mockingbird. We may not be entirely finished with chapter one, and so my students will complete it for homework.
For this unit, I am asking that my students develop what I am calling a "focus question" for each chapter. Because this is a text with 31 chapters, I wanted to require a task that keeps my students engaged and holds them accountable, but also one that does not become too cumbersome. I explain that a good focus question is open-ended and requires that certain inferences must be made in order to address it thoroughly. In determining what makes a good focus question, my students should focus on characters and/or events in a chapter that they suspect are central to understanding the text. Their focus questions will then be used whenever possible as discussion starters.
Thus, in the remaining minutes of class, I challenge my students to develop good focus questions for what we have read of chapter one thus far, so that they can share them with whole-group support and feedback. They may use the question they develop in class to fulfill the assignment, or they may wait to create their final question after they have completed chapter one for homework.