Timing. The students have completed all or nearly all of their choice books (RL.9-10.10), and I have had a chance to interact and question all or nearly all of the students on their book talks which were to effectively summarize (RL.9-10.2) key elements of the novel, yielding character (RL.9-10.3) and thematic (RL.9-10.2) insights. While a few students have required some coaching and remediation to make sure that they are finishing the book on time and effectively, I am ready to assign writing as a means of assessing their reading through a comparison and contrast commentary (W.9-10.2, as in this previous lesson) that compares the book to the movie. As each of these books also has a recent film adaptation, the students are already excitedly talking about this aspect of comparison (RL.9-10.7), and I think that the writing will be a good chance for them to firm up their understandings of the book as well as show how they can respond to a difficult book independently (RL.9-10.10), which is especially important here at year's end.
Rationale. As a part of this project, I want the students to be able to take notes on their ideas and to write informally (W.9-10.10) about the differences in representation (RL.9-10.7) that exist in a given book or movie. In making these comments, they are not only showing their accurate reading of the novel, but they are leveraging their understandings of how different artists explore an idea across varying media (RL.9-10.7), as we did in our American Born Chinese unit as well as in our Writing about Art unit. Since we have been discussing the affordances of art, writing, film, and graphic novels all year, the students should be able to formulate a response with less help and thus reveal their mastery here, in this capstone reading and writing project!
Handout. I will push out BOOK vs. movie notes sheet to the students electronically, asking them to do the notes first and then the paragraph at the bottom for homework, if necessary. The homework asks them to do a comparison/contrast paragraph (or two), and that is also a skill that the students have practiced on two separate occasions this year. Still, comparing a book and movie in this kind of writing can be a challenge (for one thing, it's hard to 'quote' the visual effect of a movie unless one is looking directly at a screen shot), so some support will need to be given.
Poster Talk Interviews. Once the students are fast at work on this informal writing, I will continue to call students to the side of the classroom in order to conduct my assessment of their reading. Again, this is an opportunity for me to individualize my assessment in order to make sure that each student has done an accurate reading (RL.9-10.2) and can provide me evidence in an informal discussion (SL.9-10.1) of the text. Along with the poster itself and the writing that I am assigning today, these informal talks provide me great insights into the progress that each student as made on the book--and in turn, all year.
Pre-Writing. I put up notes on book vs movie Gatsby on the overhead to serve as a guide for the students, so that they can write relatively independently, and I can have deep, 1:1 or 1:2 conversations with students as they explain their book posters. The students write at their desks using 1:1 chromebook technology, while I continue to interview students on their book posters from yesterday's lesson. It's important to note that students have written comparison/contrast pieces several times this year (e.g. American Born Chinese unit), so writing in this informative stance (W.9-10.2), something would normally require much scaffolding and support, does not require the same kind of help here.
I am attempting to wrap up an entire course, one in which the students have been doing these types of comparisons, have been writing difficult and frequent essays (W.9-10.10) all year, and now I want to see how well they can show what the know and can do. That said, I will differentiate, and students who may require extra assistance will get it, but my approach will be to aim for incremental gains and to push each student to the next level.
Movies that over- and under-interpret. In addition, this notes sheet requires students to write in a structured and evidence-based way about the book and novel. Here, telcon writing book vs. movie reveals an ability to think about the story across two separate formats (RL.9-10.7) and how each affects the literary quality of the text. I had introduced an idea to the class which was new: a movie can 'underinterpret' a text by leaving out key details or 'overinterpret' by adding extraneous special effects, scene detail, etc. From my gloss over the student work, it seemed that the majority used this construct, even though it was not required. I am curious to explore this type of writing in the future.
Writing to Projects. I let the students know that one of the key purposes of explaining the challenges in interpreting a book in video format is that we will be producing key scenes as part of the final/summative project (W.9-10.6), one that will require them to use technology to "braid" together the text, images, sound effects, and even music.
I tell them that the first step is to create a script (W.9-10.3), then find visuals, and finally edit and integrate them (W.9-10.6). The students have already recorded their voices reading their own original works on a previous lesson in narrative writing, so the tech piece should be feasible. However, I am planning on giving them less time and less help in doing this, as I am looking for a summative assessment of what they can do at year's end.
Differentiation. On the ground and in reality, my students are at various stages right now, and some have been done with their books for over a week, have written and even some have filmed the video (or created it from a collection of images), while others are getting coaching on their book posters (RL.9-10.2) to make sure that they have the novel clear in their heads and can write the comparison essay today and later the project.
No doubt about: my pace in this unit is AMPED UP, and you might need to slow it down if you run the same unit mid-year.
I will ask:
1.) What have you learned or realized about your book now that you have been comparing the book to the movie?
2.) What have you learned or realized about your book now that you have begun to create your own video adaptation? Have you chosen to do an adaptation of a key chapter, missing scene or alternate ending?
** note: With more time, I think it'd be a great activity to have students read their comparison essays to each other in their same-book groups or pairs. However, the school year was coming to a close so I need to move these lessons along rather briskly!