Today we start our summative project for the unit: the story element project. In addition to focusing on 3 CCSS, this is an arts integration project:
I ask students to open the project menu, and we read through my expectations and the possible projects together. I emphasize that this is more about the standards than the medium but that students can and should explore their creativity if they so desire. Primarily, though, students need to show understanding of how the text is structured, including beginning and ending, how story elements relate to one another, and how language is used to describe characters and events and create the tone of the novel.
Next, we look at a possible outline, a 3-circle venn diagram of the standards. While completion of this diagram is not required, I explain that it may help students find the heart of the project--where language and story elements collide to create meaning. I walk them through an example of how to use it, analyzing Huckleberry Finn, a book many students read in a previous unit. I conclude that while the language used in the novel reveals the racist culture in which it is set, Huck's understanding of the language and of people ultimately changes as a theme (all men are equal) emerges.
Finally, we look at a student example from a previous class. This example is the poetry option from the project menu. The student wrote her own poetry to reflect the characterization, plot, and language used in The Color Purple and then used commentaries to connect the poems to the novel and offer deeper analysis to meet the standards. We read through the work and then consider how well it met the standards (was the end of the novel truly addressed, for instance). Other examples of artwork are posted on my bulletin boards, and I encourage students to take a look at them for more ideas.
**Please note that labels match my district's clear learning targets rather than the original CCSS labels; they are still the CCSS.
Students have the remainder of the hour to begin work. I ask them to create a list of their project choices on the board so that I may know what they are working toward and offer assistance accordingly. Then, I meander to offer guidance and keep students on task.
Planning begins with excitement; the variety of options are engaging, and students are eager to choose and start.