We begin today with the weekly vocabulary review, of words pulled from chapters 26-28 of To Kill a Mockingbird. At this point in the year, some of my students are looking for shortcuts through the reviews—“Do I have to write the sentences?” I remind them of the theory of three encounters with a word before it starts to sink in—our reviews represent encounter one, their homework encounter two, and their quiz encounter three.
In my students' defense, I do get their ennui. This is their 19th set of vocabulary words for the year, and though they still manage to maintain a certain enthusiasm for learning and using new words, let's face it: the year's almost over, we can almost taste summer, and we are all tired. Nonetheless, I instruct them to copy down the guided review and, as always, to "pick their poison" on the final slide in terms of homework.
My students were assigned chapter 28 of To Kill a Mockingbird for homework, which we began reading as a whole group in the previous lesson. I anticipate that, as happens with me every time I read this text, many students will have been compelled to complete the book, which will make for some tricky whole-group sharing so that we don’t give anything away to those who stopped at chapter 28. I will plan to check with each class on the ratios of who has finished the book and who hasn’t, and propose that we postpone a discussion of chapter 28 until our next class, after which everyone will have finished the book.
If this focus question is any indication, however, my students are eager to get that discussion started!
Finally, we will finish today with assigning the character project that my students have been eager to learn about since we began our unit on To Kill a Mockingbird. In the early days of our To Kill a Mockingbird unit, my students pulled character names out of a box in this lesson, before we had encountered most of the characters in the book.
I have spent the last few nights creating a sample for my students, to help them visualize the possibilities of this assignment. I have found that whenever I develop a sample project, I tend to get better results from my students, which I elaborate on in this lesson.
I distribute a copy of the project requirements to each student and we read and review it as a whole group. I have kept this handout relatively simple, with the notion that I will be following up with additional information in the coming weeks, including rubrics for each portion of the assignment. I did not want to overwhelm my students with too much verbiage on the front end, in order to capitalize on their anticipated enthusiasm today.
After we have reviewed the requirements and I have addressed any additional questions, I show them the shoes I have made for Curley’s wife from Of Mice and Men. I talk them through what I have included on the shoes and how and why they represent Curley's wife. As I explain, I walk around and allow my students to see the shoes up close.
With a few minutes left, then, I instruct my students to dedicate the next blank page in their classroom spiral notebooks to brainstorming ideas about their character. I anticipate that the room will be buzzing with ideas, and I want my students to get them down on paper so that they don’t forget.