Investigating Character in OMAM & Tagging Research Notecards

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SWBAT use textual evidence to investigate loneliness and the Lennie/George relationship in Of Mice & Men and gather relevant information from multiple sources to begin supporting their argumentative research paper.

Big Idea

Check it out: A discussion-provoking quiz & a tutorial-supported kickoff to notecard creation with Evernote! You’ll never go back to paper…


40 minutes

To begin the period, students will take a Chapter 2 & 3 reading quiz in Socrative (which is easily downloadable with the sharing code SOC-3002285 through Socrative) over their reading homework in Of Mice & Men.  This quiz was actually supposed to be given last class period, but with our run of snow days everything has been pushed back a bit!  I really work to design these quizzes in a very specific manner that requires that students have read the material and thought carefully about it while reading.  The Common Core requires active reading practices and critical thought, and I want to be sure to enforce those practices by engineering assessments that pull from a deeper knowledge than what can be acquired by skimming Sparknotes.  It's likely that you will face some resistance to these assessments (which are much more thought-intensive than old-school quizzes), especially while working through the transition to the Common Core, but it's worth it to persevere!  Not only do these assessments give you more information about your students' proficiency and reading habits, they also allow for more meaningful discussions and encourage text-based responses.

When students finish their individual quizzes, I will ask them to gather up any outstanding questions about the reading assignment so that we can begin our discussion with them.  After all students finish their quizzes, we will orally review the chapters using student questions first.  As they pose questions, I will facilitate discussion to encourage student peers to respond to questions and deepen the discussion using textual evidence.  Typically, discussion centers around the quiz questions anyway, but if all quiz questions do not get discussed, I will ask them to the class after their questions have been addressed.  The major ideas I want students to be considering going into their next reading assignment are:

  • The unique and complex interaction between Lennie & George
  • Lennie's functionality levels, motivations, & shortfalls in awareness
  • Slim's ethereal characterization & the effect on his relationships and persona
  • The pervasive loneliness of characters and their attempts to connect
  • Foreshadowing of events to come, including Candy's fears illuminated by his dog's death

Building Knowledge

15 minutes

During the research paper "season," we split our time between literature and research skills.  In years past, I have tried doing a stand-alone research unit, but with 90-minute periods it just works better for me to break it up.  This way, students who are absent miss a more balanced content, the time allotted for the writing process is greater to enable creativity and depth, and a increased content flexibility gives me more time to work 1-on-1 with students during the drafting and topic selection stages.  

Today's research task will build on the preliminary research students began with Evernote during our last class period.  At the start of this class period, students should have a shared Evernote notebook with at least three articles "clipped" from one of three subscription-based online databases our school uses.  Today, we will be adding an index feature to our sources, and students will have time to work on taking notecards through the same platform.  Instead of explaining our agenda while students have the magic of technology directly in front of them (which typically ends in endless repetition), I will have students close their Chromebooks and model how to tag sources.  

We will pause briefly after modeling to allow students to tag their own sources, and then we will repeat the procedure by closing the Chromebooks and modeling how to create and appropriately tag notecards.



20 minutes

After demonstrating the procedure, I will allow students 20 minutes to begin taking notecards using the Evernote method.  Before the next class period, they need to create and tag 20 notecards in this platform.  To support students who may need to see the process a few times (and parents, support professionals, etc.), I will share with them the video tutorials posted in the previous section so that they can watch them as many times as needed to enforce the practice.  I will also post written directions on my website, which I'll attach in the resources section.  I want to be sure to make it absolutely impossible for students to lack clarity on this issue, and giving students directions in every mode possible helps me ensure that!

While students work independently, I will walk around the room to make sure students have clipped their three required database sources and have started working on taking notecards.  If students have questions on content, I will take time to answer them, but I will direct ALL Evernote procedure questions to the tutorial videos and written directions.  With so many resources at their disposal, I want to encourage them to use those resources and better use my time helping students that have more in-depth of specific questions about more than just procedure.


15 minutes

After students have had a chance to get started on their notecards, they can "choose their adventure" in the last 15 minutes of class by either continuing to find sources and make notecards or getting started on their reading homework, which will be Chapter 4 in Of Mice & Men.  While reading, I want them to look for more examples of the pervasive loneliness in the novel and continue to explore Lennie's cognizance and motivations, as well as he and George's complex relationship.  We will continue to discuss these ideas after our opening  quiz next class period.  

Next Steps

Between this class period and the next, I will be sure to go through my email and "Join" all of my students' requests to share their notebooks through Evernote.  I typically put a "No Count" assignment in the gradebook for sharing this notebook so that I can easily keep track of who has not shared their notebooks in a manner that students and parents have access to as well.  If students insist that they have shared a notebook with me, yet I have not received a request, it's typically quickest to have them drop by after school to "Modify Share Settings."  Students that just haven't shared it yet will more than likely share it before having to waste their time after school, and those that are having problems in earnest can get the extra individual help.  In my history, 100% of the students that truly have problems sharing their notebooks do so because of a typo in my email address, so be assured that if your students come to you for this help, you'll be the one who turns out looking like a genius!