Today we will start off the hour with discussion over "Grass" and "Out, Out--" which were assigned as reading homework last class period. While reading, students were supposed to consider the following questions:
Today we will begin to answer those questions as students share their own responses, then comment on or ask questions of their peers. After students share their responses, we will go further into detail to confirm their answers. Any questions already generated and covered by the initial student-led class discussion will not be repeated. This list is only to make sure that they touch on all the important ideas.
After we discuss each of these poems independently, I will ask students to relate their individual themes to one another. They will identify a common theme of trying to move on from tragedy by simply covering over the problem and dehumanizing the dead.
After our look at the poetry homework, students will continue to utilize discussion skills through a Great Gatsby prereading activity. We will be beginning the novel next class period, so I want to spend the rest of this period getting students revved up to critically read this novel. It's legitimately one of my favorite books of all time (so much so that it was my wedding theme this summer!), and my love for it is one of those things that students know about me before they ever arrive to my class because of last year's outgoing juniors! This year will be no different, so I want to start with an anticipation guide to get students thinking about their perspectives on themes and ideas that come up in the book. All students will take a few minutes in class to complete the Great Gatsby Anticipation Guide form in Google Forms. Once all students are done, I will project the "Summary Report" that Google Sheets generates for me onto the front board, and we will review the results as a class. (I've copied this report into the presentation in the resources section so that you can see how these results appear!) The questions that show the greatest degree of dissent will be our targets for class discussion today. Also, if there are any cases where an incredibly high percentage of students share the same belief (like 90% or more), I will also take the opposing view of these items and discuss those as well.
If you're new at generating summary reports from Forms in Google, check out this brief tutorial on how to do it. I promise you'll never go back to the short way! Students can even use their phones to quickly complete these forms if you're not in a 1:1 environment.
Following our discussion, students will dive right into reading "Winter Dreams" by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Actively Learn format, answering the embedded questions and discussion questions while they read. While they MUST answer the embedded questions to earn credit, they can choose one of two ways to answer the discussion questions. They can either answer the prompt as I have written it, or if they would prefer, they can write a comment on a peer's comment to clarify, question, or provide a counterclaim against what they have said. Both types of questions for this story are attached in the Resources section for your reference, but Actively Learn no longer allows members to "share" their marked-up stories in a downloadable format unless they pay for the premium version. (Sad times!) Before reading, I will explain that this is a great "warm up" story to get into F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing style, themes, and ideas. They will have approximately 20 minutes to get started on reading this text in class since it is a longer short story. I have heard from students that the first section drags a bit, but students will be MUCH happier to continue reading by the second section, as Judy Jones becomes more and more like characters from top reality television shows as the story continues!
In the final moments of class, students will share their "first impressions" of the story so far. Then, I will remind them that it needs to be completely read with questions answered in Actively Learn by the start of next class period. Also, I will share F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald's Biography website with them and ask them to preview this site to learn a little more about this extraordinary couple before we meet again. It's such a wonderful resource that it just has to have time to be explored, so I will encourage them to begin their exploration now if they want to take a break from reading.
I will intermittently check in on student progress within the Actively Learn platform over the next few days, emailing students that I see have no started (or finished) their work before it is due. We'll be formally starting our unit on The Great Gatsby next time, so I want to make sure all students have a general understanding of Fitzgerald and common themes in his writing before next time. Reading this story will be an important part of understanding The Great Gatsby on a deeper level.