Students pull their desks into pods of six with the members of their groups, and take the folder for the group. These folders are used to turn in their assignments and provide a place to hold their literature circle worksheets. I also return work to students in these folders with each group meeting.
Groups check to make sure each assignment is done, and take note of any absences (in case a member of another group needs to be "taken hostage" or borrowed to fill in).
As students discuss today, I circulate the room, providing clarification and focus as needed, and especially listening for how students address the focus idea from yesterday: what Scout learns about prejudice from the characters in this reading, and its connection to the quote from Maya Angelou, "Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible."
Literature Circle discussions begin with the factual, text-based review of the Quiz Maker.
First, the Quiz Maker writes questions that require students to know strong, thorough, and specific evidence from the text that will be used to support analysis (RL.9-10.1). Members of the group answer the quiz on their Literature Circle Worksheet.
Second, the Discussion Director asks his or her questions, and has the responsibility to be the "group leader." The Discussion Director conducts the in-depth conversation about these questions, and only shares his or her responses once the group's conversation has died out. The Discussion Director's questions and draw evidence from the text to support his or her reading analysis (W.9-10.9a), demonstrating and supporting how ideas develop over the course of the text (RL.9-10.2).
Third, the Character Sorter shares the three significant characters he or she identified. These mini-character biographies explore how Scout interact with other characters, to demonstrate how those characters and interactions advance plot and develop the key themes of the novel (RL.9-10.3).For grades, each literature circle assignment is worth twenty points, divided between naming chapters by providing titles for each (five points) and completing the assignment itself (fifteen points). The points are divided among the parts of the assignment, so for the Character Sorter assignment, who provides a summary and analysis of three characters with whom Scout interacts, each character write-up is worth five points for specificity, completeness, and depth of thought, and for responding to all of the the assigned questions: identifying the character and Scout's impression of him or her, an explanation of the accuracy of Scout's impressions, a quotation describing the character, and an explanation of that quote. These elements may be blended together as long as all are included or touched upon in the students' response.
The character sorter role tends to be more of a presentation than an interactive discussion, as the Quiz Maker and Discussion Director are. Students present their findings, character information and quotations, clearly and logically, so that their group members can follow the line of reasoning for the characters' significance (SL.9-10.4), and typically take notes on the quote and its explanation. Students have been informed that identification and explanation of the significance of quotations from the novel will appear on the text, in order to evaluate their knowledge of the work and their ability to connect the speaker or characters described to the key themes of the novel (RL.9-10.3). As I circulate the room, I try to engage each group to discuss and address their understanding of the importance of the characters in greater depth, in order to connect the findings of this role to the wider themes of the novel.
Fourth, the Connector shares his or her connections. The connector also encourages reaction to and discussion about the connections he or she made. gathers evidence to support their ideas from a multitude of sources in order to identify significant connections and comparisons between the novel, their own lives, other literary and artistic works, and the wider world (W.9-10.8), highlighting and explaining how key themes develop over the course of both the novel and their connections, summarizing the key events in the reading (RL.9-10.2).
Fifth, the Illustrator shares how he or she visualized a scene in the novel, sharing their image and write-up on it. The Illustrator portrays a key scene in the novel in two different media, and then analyzes what they chose to emphasize or leave out (RL.9-10.7).
Sixth and finally, the Vocab Master locates the meaning of "new" words and phrases as Scout uses them and explains the impact of this diction on the text (RL.9-10.4). As with the Quiz Maker, the students in the groups write the terms, their part of speech, and definition on the Literature Circle Worksheet.
In the event a member of the group is absent, or the assignment is incomplete, a group should ask a member of another group to cover that assignment for them. Students are all informed this is a possibility.
Students are working in literature circles because they are both student-driven and collaborative. Students shape meaning in their 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).
As students held their literature circle discussions, I circulated the room and provided each group with copies of the assignment, "Perspective Makes All The Difference" (Grading Guide). This assignment, the first created by our Professional Learning Communities, is a common assessment across all Grade 10/English II classes. The assignment was designed to provide students an opportunity to study character (not narrative) point of view can impact what is directly stated in a text and what is really meant (RL.11-12.6)*, as well as how Scout, a complex character in her own right, interacts with other characters (RL.9-10.3), and how those other characters interact with her.
*We are working at the 11-12 band for this assignment, as students are focused on the point of view of an American character, in an American novel.
In their literature circle groups today, following completion of their assigned activity discussion, students are collaborating to create and pose "interview" questions that relate to Chapter 15 (SL.9-10.1c), the scene in front of the Maycomb Courthouse in which Scout defuses the lynch mob coming for Tom Robinson.
In order to compile these questions, students identify specific details about the scene and pose interview-style questions based on those details. These questions will be shared with the whole group in our next class, and we will work together to pare down to five specific questions that can apply to all of the characters present.
With two minutes remaining, I ask the students to return their desks to rows, and extend today's questions: any groups that did not compile five universal questions must complete this assignment for our next class (Monday).