For the last two class sessions, my students have been on their own with Travels With Charley, reading and analyzing sections of it in small reading groups. Sensing that their initial enthusiasm for the book may be waning a bit, I am devoting a portion of today's lesson to reigniting their interest.
Thus, we begin with a clip that is chosen specifically to rekindle interest in the text, because what better way to do that than with dogs and puppies?
Steinbeck begins today's reading by describing the way Charley relentlessly stares him down while he is sleeping. Because I have discovered in our whole group reading sessions that my students love all things Charley, I am capitalizing on this for today's lesson starter.
After the brief clip and before we move into reading today's passage from Travels With Charley, I allow a few students to share their stories of how their own dogs may wake them up in the mornings.
Building on the momentum of the anticipated crowd-pleasing clip, I transition my students to the passage from Travels With Charley that I have excerpted and reproduced for them today. I have slightly modified the passage, but it begins with "Charley likes to get up early . . ." and ends approximately a third of the way through the paragraph that begins "The best of learning came on the morning radio" (pages 33-35 in the Penguin paperback edition).
This is a brief excerpt, and I have added questions down the right side of the handout I give my students. Wherever possible, I have tried to emulate the line of questioning that my students might encounter on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, such as questions about voice and tone and words in context. Ultimately, however, I have tried to develop questions that can lead to extended discussion, which I am hoping will do at least two things:
Because it is so close to the end of the school year, we have more than one pot on our stove, so to speak. My students have been preparing for their final Socratic Seminar and they are responsible for contributing both the topics and the accompanying documents for discussion. Thus, from our whole-goup reading and analysis of Travels With Charley, my students then move into the small reading groups with which they have been working, in order to address the next step in their seminar preparation.
Each group member was to come to class today with a document about their group's chosen topic. Once reassembled in their groups, my students then share the documents with their group members, reading them aloud if possible, paraphrasing if necessary for the longer documents. Once all documents in a group have been shared, then the group decides which document is the best one to submit to me for potential use in the upcoming seminar.
The third and final pot that needs attention in this lesson is time for vocabulary game demonstrations. In this previous lesson, my students were given the challenge to create vocabulary games that would serve as a form of review for their upcoming final vocabulary test. Because there was not enough time to both create and demonstrate the games in one class session, I have carved out the last 20 minutes of this lesson for demonstrations.
We will spend the final minutes of class allowing student volunteers to demonstrate their games, which will hopefully require a certain amount of audience participation, so that each game that is demonstrated contributes to the larger goal of reviewing for their upcoming final vocabulary test.