I start the class by leading a brief discussion about literary criticism. My students are most familiar with the negative connotation of criticism. It is important that I help them to understand that literary criticism is not just making a judgement of a piece of writing, so much as it is a comprehensive process of digging more deeply into a text in order to find deeper meaning. To facilitate this, I ask the students to share their initial feelings about the word "criticism" - and as expected, each of the responses relates to judgment, dislike/disapproval, and evaluation. I then talk to them about connotation and how some words have many meanings and ways to be interpreted. This helps me to transition their thinking when I introduce them to a definition of "criticism" as it aligns with this process of analyzing literature. I show the students the following from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary:
criticism - the scientific investigation of literary documents (as the Bible) in regard to such matters as origin, text, composition, or history
After helping the students to create a different perspective of criticism, I introduce the day's task. I explain to the class that I will be assigning each student 4 literary criticisms (College Responses to Story of an Hour for Jigsaw) of "Story of an Hour" written by college students. This statement is met with some grumbling and groaning, which is my expectation. I respond by telling them that my real expectation is for each student to read and analyze 1 of the 4 criticisms and present it to their table mates. We have done jigsaws in my classroom before, so the students respond favorably to this news. I then pass out each of the documents, making sure that each group member has a different text.
Once each student has been assigned one of the texts, I give them about five minutes to read it and complete the Agree or Disagree process of annotating. In this process, the students put stars next to important information that they noticed and agree with. They are expected to underline the information that they either did not notice/think about, or disagree with, or both. This process helps them to prioritize the information presented in the text in preparation for discussions.
After this time has passed, I have the students get into groups with students from other table groups that read the same article. I use the same four locations as the previous lesson as it is easy to facilitate and monitor, while still giving the students space to talk without interruption from the other groups' discussions. By the time the students move, they have about 8 minutes to discuss their articles. As the groups discuss, I move between them and listen in on each for a couple of minutes.
When I give the signal, students return to their table groups and wait for further instruction. I keep it very brief, especially since the process is familiar to them. I let the class know that each group member will have 5 minutes to teach the rest of the group about the criticism he or she read and analyzed. As the others are listening, they are expected to write down brief notes on the back of their own text, listing key ideas and details. After the 5 minutes pass, the next group member teaches, and so on.
After each group member has presented on his or her text, I wrap up the class by having each student write down 2 things they learned from the jigsaw that helped them to better understand and appreciate "The Story of An Hour".