Today is Cinco de Mayo, and while American pop culture has embraced this Mexican holiday, I want to touch on cultural literacy, and share this article and video from History.com.
In order to contribute to the students' cultural literacy, I begin with a quick brainstorm: what preconceptions do you have about Cinco de Mayo? Students are encouraged to share their preconceptions and knowledge about the holiday, responding to others' perspectives and qualifying or justifying their ideas when warranted (SL.9-10.1d).
I then pass out the Cinco de Mayo reading, giving students a few minutes to read, and share the video with the students. As students read, they are directed to look for thorough textual evidence to infer and conclude support or refutations for their preconceived notions (RI.9-10.1).
Students are given the majority of class today to read and work independently.
To provide a goal and objective, and to connect to today's quote, I ask students to continue finding examples of how all three thematic motifs (bravery/courage, education, and prejudice) manifest in the characters' actions (RL.9-10.2).
Today, students continue reading and working independently on their literature circle role assignment for Chapters 22-26 (they should have begun reading this already, on their own). By providing time today in class to address the multiple components of our look at "To Kill a Mockingbird," the 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).
With two minutes remaining, I ask the students to return their desks to rows, remind them that tomorrow is a discussion day-they need to be prepared, and review the due date for the summative Creative Project (in a week!) (See lesson: "Mockingbird Logistics" for more on the creative project directions.)