Today begins with a whole group review of the work my students completed in the previous lesson with the Nixon-Kennedy debate, as time did not permit a thorough review in that class session. Before we begin, however, I show my students this brief clip as a follow-up, in order to reestablish the focus of the previous lesson.
After the clip, we review the questions as a whole group, allowing student volunteers to share their responses. I am especially curious as to how my students approached question 4, which has them assess the writer's perspective based on the stylistic and organizational choices she has made. Awareness of strategy has been an on-going focus in our class this year, and my students have become more and more keen about identifying the choices a writer makes to achieve a desired effect. Many of my favorite teacher moments are when my students begin to instinctually notice a writer's craft.
Today's reading of Travels With Charley shifts from whole group to small group, where my students will begin reading Part Two. Steinbeck is ready to hit the road in Rocinante, having just successfully battled Hurricane Donna at the end of Part One.
I arrange the groups strategically, spreading out my strugglers with capable group mates, and direct my students' attention to the reading task that I have written on the white board. Each student is given a Kindle from our class set from which to read, and I even allow a group or two to work in the hallway just outside my door, so as to better manage the noise of readers.
My students will be reading from the beginning of Part Two ("In long-range planning for a trip . . ." through "I prefer to draw a curtain over my visit . . ."). It is approximately eight pages, throughout which Steinbeck suggests his views on at least the four topics I have identified in the reading task:
This assignment will test my students' ability to make inferences about Steinbeck's views on these topics and to rely on evidence from the text to support what they think those views are. With the support of the small group, they will be able to discuss and come to a consensus around his views, though each student will document the answers in his/her individual classroom spiral notebook. As student groups are working, I am able to circulate and offer assistance and encourage them towards insight whenever necessary.
I expect this activity to occupy the remainder of the class period.