Today, and for the near future, we set aside ten (to fifteen) minutes of class to answer any questions students may have for their final exams. Students have been given a Final Review packet that has been based on the questions they raised as well as the areas in which they felt confidence (see Unit: "Literary Skills and Final Exam Reviews"; the posters students created for this review are hanging in the classroom. Students may draw questions from the posters created for out first review and use them to find or provide answers as well).
An open forum allows for a student-driven classroom, meeting the needs and answering the questions of each student. During this time, students are encouraged to ask questions regarding evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from both literary and non-fiction texts (RL.9-10.1, RI.9-10.1), the skills needed for participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (SL.9-10.1), and knowledge of research and citation skills and format (W.9-10.8).
I reinforce that there "are no bad questions" today, because someone else in class is probably wondering the exact same thing.
In order to meet the needs of more quiet students, I review their filled in (or not) final review packets as I circulate the classroom, and this time is also used for individual conferencing, either student-initiated or by me asking individual students what they may have questions on.
As part of the "Write Your Own Study Guide" assignment (see Lesson: "Reading Drama: Small-Group Reading of Act I, Sc 2"), students have created ten questions that assess understanding of specific details about setting (RL.9-10.1), character development and interaction (RL.9-10.3), symbols that shape the themes of the play (RL.9-10.2), and the connection between Hansberry's own life and work (students have read the biography from the "One Book, One Chicago" program).
Today, students return to their "family" groups (see Lesson: "Family Conflict: Understanding Theme in 'A Raisin in the Sun'"). Students pass their self-written questions to another member off the group and respond to the best of their ability. While the obvious objective of this assignment is to check students' understanding of the play through both the (as noted above), but it also serves to inspires a students to ask questions of their peers, as the student here asking for clarification of a term, as well as the meaning and intent of the questions their peers ask, as well as the play's primary themes that develop over the course of the Act (RL.9-10.2):
1. Specific details refining the connection between the description of the apartment and the overall mood of the play, connecting with our look at the theme of "home" (see Lesson: "Concepts of Home: Claude McKay's 'The Tropics of New York").
2. Specific details that portray how the conflicts between the family members play out in the interactions with other characters, and reasons for it (also RL.9-10.3).
This activity calls upon students to come to discussion prepared, having read the play and prepared their questions and to draw on that reading and the answers they have in mind to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas (SL.9-10.1a). The assignment requires students to pose and respond to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas and to clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions their peers have in response to their questions (SL.9-10.1c). As students discuss, they respond to diverse perspectives, especially interpretations of their own questions, and justify their own views and understanding, make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented by their peers (SL.9-10.1d).
As students answer and discuss, I circulate the room responding to their discussions and providing clarification (and focus) as needed.
Students who are unprepared or who were absent are moved to a new group and given an opportunity to complete the assignment.
Tomorrow, students will debrief and evaluate themselves on their questions, answers, and participation, and how effective their communication was.
With two minutes remaining, I ask students to wrap up their conversations, put their desks back into rows and return to their regular seats, and spend some time tonight informally thinking about the effectiveness of their questions. By reflecting on these questions, students prepare for tomorrow's activity, in which they'll be evaluating their questions, responses, and participation in the small group discussion today.