Context and Overview
Today, we move forward with the story of Charlotte's Web by reading the chapter, "Last Day." We will analyze the chapter with text dependent questions and by looking closely at a particular quote.
We will also meet in a Socratic Seminar for discussion. Then, students will have the opportunity to respond in writing to synthesize their understandings. Last, they will have a chance to share those responses with their peers.
After sharing the objective from the rug, I turn to my students and ask, "What Makes A Good Friend?" This the heart of the matter in discussing this chapter today, and it's a key theme in the book as a whole. I have them partner up with their carpet partner first before a few of them share out loud.
I take their responses and record them on a Chart. In this way, I am validating their knowledge and making it public. I can also reference the chart if I need to during the lesson.
Now we are reading the chapter, "Last Day," with Text Dependent Questions. These questions hone in on Wilbur's transformation in his perception about Charlotte and what Charlotte now means to him. I make sure to make this explicit: Why Would Wilbur Give His Life For Charlotte?
Wilbur's character is that of a child relying on Fern and Charlotte as mother figures for guidance and protection. It is Charlotte's love and guidance that helps him see past Charlotte's exterior: Charlotte Saves Wilbur's Life...Wilbur Changes His mind
I stop reading and asking questions on page 165. I don't want to overwhelm my students with too many questions. I want to make sure they are still experiencing joy in reading. For the rest of the chapter, the students read along with E.B. White.
I gather the students on the carpet again to discuss the friendship between Wilbur and Charlotte. I review the rules for participation and remind of the process to hand-off to one another in discussing this idea.
I proceed by drawing my students' attention to the quote on page 164. Wilbur asks Charlotte why he did what she did for him, and this is what Charlotte states: "You have been my friend."
I take a few moments to analyze What does Charlotte mean?
While this quote is not fully understood by my students, I am impressed by two students who attempt to tackle it. In analyzing text, it helps to be prepared with follow up questions, so instead of replying to the second student with the question, "Do you think Charlotte wants to die?" a better question would have been "Why do you say that?" Additionally, "What have you read so far that makes you think that way?"
Questions that ask students to probe their thinking and redirect them back to the text are helpful to keep the conversation moving.
For my students to feel comfortable about this process, I have posted in my classroom two charts my students can reference if they need to remind themselves of our expectations:
I am attaching a document that details fully how I implement Socratic Seminar in my classroom in case you'd like to know more: Socratic Seminar Rules.
We continue to further analyze the text. Now students are seated at their desks with the quote from page 164: "You have been my friend..." I want them to continue looking at it closely as I strive to make this concept more concrete for them and give them other/more opportunities for critical thinking. Also, I want them to become comfortable with analyzing text on this level.
My students need as much practice with academic language as I can give them, so, after they finish highlighting, I ask them to pair share with each other about what they what they highlighted and why.
As they keep on reading and highlighting, I walk and monitor their engagement and ask them about what they are finding that is of interest to them and why. Here is the response of one student: Highlighted, You Have Been My Friend.
I am taking the lines, "You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing." from the quote and I am having them respond to it in writing in this way:
The students are pasting the quote in their journals and then responding to the questions. I am walking making sure they are setting up their journals properly by writing their response underneath the quote. Then I walk around and give support in asking questions, in giving support with spelling, lending support with rereading part of the quote and/or restating the objective again.
Here are some work samples:
Now my students get the opportunity to share their work with their peers on the carpet:
Then students provide feedback to the speakers. I have taught how to give speakers feedback about the content of their work using the following framework:
This time on the carpet also helps to revisit the objective and declare whether we met it or not.