Students are given the majority of class today to read and work independently.
To provide a goal and objective, I as students to focus on how Scout learns what bravery is, and what they themselves see as true courage (RL.9-10.2); with the interaction between Atticus and Tim Johnson (the rabid dog), or Jem and Mrs. DuBose, we see how Harper Lee stresses the theme of true courage in the second part of the introduction to the novel. The students' independent Creative Project Directions address these themes (see lesson, "Mockingbird Logistics: Project Introduction and Forming Groups"); by providing a focus, students begin thinking about addressing how this theme develops, not only in this reading, but to carry over into the novel as a whole (RL.9-10.2).
Today, students begin to work independently on their literature circle role assignment for Chapters 7-11 (they will continue this work over the long weekend). There are multiple components to today's assignment, (walk through instructional introduction attached), and by providing ample time in class, students can work at a pace they feel comfortable with, produce quality work, and take ownership in the novel. Students are reading independently in class because while they work in class, I can offer clarification and assistance if the students need, and they can check with their group members if there are questions. Independent reading, even for a teacher-assigned text, immerses the student in the literature, and gives them an opportunity to appreciate the text.
The literature circles for this unit are the culmination of everything students have been working toward this school year: independent understanding of the concepts and literature, personal ownership of the material and their work, and effective, collaborative learning and problem solving. Each of these goals requires the students utilize practical communication and critical thinking skills.
Students are working in literature circles because they are both student-driven and collaborative. Students shape meaning in their literature circle group interactions, drawing from the novel. The assignments require students to discuss the novel with diverse (teacher-assigned) partners, building a sense of team identity, on a wide-range of novel related topics (SL.9-10.1), including specific details of plot events (RL.9-10.1), and how these details develop themes (RL.9-10.2), characterization (RL.9-10.3), and the narrator's point-of-view influences what we see in Scout's memory of 1932-1935 (RL.9-10.5). Literature circle assignment also require students to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words and their impact on the text (RL.9-10.4). In order to demonstrate and strengthen their own learning, students present their assignments clearly to their peers, in a manner that allows group members to take effective notes on the novel (SL.9-10.4).
In order to answer any questions students may have about plot, I call them back together after 30 minutes and ask them to pose any questions that will support their analysis of what the text says and the inferences they draw about the novel (RL.9-10.1). Open-ended questions, I will suggest they ask in their next literature circle meeting in order to spark discussion, but reading comprehension questions will be answered in class.
With two minutes remaining, I wrap up our Q-and-A and remind the students to be prepared for their next literature circle (it is four days away, and they need to be independent, self-motivated, and prepared).