To start today, I ask students to connect back to our discussion in a previous lesson about the power of words. What words might cause harm in chapter 1 of A Lesson Before Dying? How so?
To continue the hook I started in the previous lesson, I read in class again, this time chapter 2. In this chapter, we actually get to know the narrator, Grant, and identify the main conflict of the novel: Grant is to teach Jefferson how to be a man before he dies. It's important for students to understand this conflict, so reading in class is a good choice.
Students note how negative Grant seems and how, for lack of a better word just yet, bossy Emma and Lou seem. We don't have enough information yet to know who to sympathize with, so we hold our personal opinions.
Since Grant must teach Jefferson what it means to be a man, we should probably tap into our preconceived notions about manhood. That way, we can watch for signs of manhood as we progress through the novel and see if Jefferson is making any progress.
I present students with the assignment Manhood Today (which also allows students to consider womanhood, just to be fair). Students will work in groups to identify and analyze our conceptions of manhood (or womanhood). They will need to assign roles within their groups--leader and recorder--and then consider many different perspectives as they work.
Students have the remainder of the hour to work; they will present their findings during our next lesson.
As already noted on the daily agenda and then announced at the end of class, students are to read chapter 3 for homework.