Today students will be turning their five revised thesis statement options into a Google Form to easily collect feedback on interest level and thesis strength from their peers. While most students will have created a form before, not all students have had this opportunity. Since all students will be working at different paces, I created a video of the process to aid students. I will begin the hour by modeling the exact same process shown in the video, and those students who are able to complete the process with me will have that opportunity. All students will have access to my tutorial video below to help them follow the correct procedure to setting up this form.
Once I demonstrate how to make the form and share the video resource, I will walk around the room helping students as needed. When students are finished with their survey, they will submit their Live Form Links to the Thesis Statement Feedback Links Form. Do NOT let them link the form-creation page! This will be a common error unless you go out of your way to say it throughout the form creation and submission time. You want students to be able to click on the links to TAKE the survey, so it's critical to link the ACTUAL SURVEY A VIEWER WOULD SEE to enable the next step of the project. Immediately after submitting their own link to the form, they will need to go to the spreadsheet that collects form responses through Google Forms. There is a screencap (with the names column removed) to show how easily this form is set up and accessed by students in the resources section. After students submit their survey, they must take the survey of every other student in their class. Giving and collecting this honest, thoughtful feedback will help students to pick more relevant, interesting, timely, and unique topics. I have said a million times that some topics are overused, but this step should help to eliminate some of that when their peers echo my feelings and all students have access to seeing their peers' topic ideas.
Students will likely not finish responding to all surveys during this class time. My biggest concern will be getting students to build their own form, submit the form to MY form, and access their peers' work through the spreadsheet. Students will have until tomorrow at noon (we're on block scheduling, so we alternate days!) to give their peers feedback on their surveys. ALL students will use that feedback by viewing their "Summaries of Responses" to help inform them of their peers' interests. I will also suggest that if they get little interest for some topics they're really interested in, they should talk to their peers to see what they could do to improve the thesis statement or topic to garner more interest. Ultimately, they must return to our next class period with their "Top 2" unique, well-written thesis statements.
After 30 minutes of our "research" part of the hour (which should give students PLENTY of time to build their forms and submit them to the link sheet!), I will switch gears to begin our look at Steinbeck's Of Mice & Men. We will have two objectives today, which will be to read and analyze Robert Burns's "To a Mouse" (while evaluating how language has changed) and to gain a broader sense of the historical background of the time period. Students will view copies of the original and translated poem, attached in the resource section. First, I will ask students to point out differences in the two poems. They will quickly recognize the antiqued language, odd syntax, and direct influence of dialect on the original poem. Then, I will ask them what they feel has changed in language and what might be missing in the translated version. Students will point out that some of the rhyme structures and meter choices are different in the translation. They may also say that it is missing some of the authentic voice of the narrator since it's lacking dialect. I will ask for a student to volunteer to read a stanza of the original poem so that we can try to guess the dialect being employed, which is Scottish. At this point, I will tell my classes that this poem is the basis for the title of our novel, Of Mice & Men, which is why we're examining it.
After our first look at the poems, students will popcorn read a sentence or two of the translated poem, stopping to check for understanding. Since it is a somewhat complicated poem with words that are uncommon to my students, I want to be sure that we are all moving through it together.
After our discussion, students will develop a stronger idea of the historical context this was written in by reading the PBS Article "Mass Exodus from the Plains" and completing the embedded questions in Actively Learn. They will also watch the video below, which is embedded into the Actively Learn platform, and answer the pre-reading questions embedded in the text. Those questions are attached in the resources section.
Finally, students will use the Actively Learn platform to read the first chapter of Of Mice & Men. I took student suggestions and made all of my questions in this Actively Learn module "discussion questions" set in the margins of text rather than embedded in the reading (which blocks students from continuing before answering questions). Also, many of the questions require students to annotate their texts (using the Actively Learn highlighting features) to track characterizations throughout the first chapter. I am still playing around with this platform to see what it can do, what students like, and what is most effective for them, so this is my latest attempt! While reading, students will have to complete the activities (listed in a document in the resources section) noted in my comments in the margins. This work will prepare students to actively engage in discussion at the start of our next class period. It will also allow them to have textual evidence handy to support their opinions so that when I annoyingly ask "Why? What in the text tells you that?" they can answer me immediately!
Before students leave me today, I will make sure we connect as a whole group to discuss the expectations for their reading assignment. Since the application is so new, I want to really make sure that all students know what is required for full credit. Then, I will remind them to finish giving their peers feedback on their thesis statements and to select their own final two thesis options based on that feedback and their own interests. Both of these project will be due next time.
Next time we'll continue our reading and research tasks in class. Since all students need to leave feedback on their classmates' surveys by noon tomorrow, I will check to see where students are at tonight before I go to bed. The beautiful thing about Google is the sharing ability, so this task is made easy for me to check in on and email reminders to students as needed. Though it takes a bit of extra time, the reward of having better prepared students is absolutely worth it. It also helps to further the idea that "Ms. McCoy is EVERYWHERE!" which plays a large part in my classroom management strategy. When they know you're lurking around and checking, they are really much more on task!