After last class period's discussion of historical context in this time period, I came the stunning realization that most of my students had no concept of many of the guiding features of the era, including the Cold War, Space Race, & Cuban Missile Crisis. Since I want them to engage with another piece of stunning informational text today, John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, it's critical that they get a clear sense of the time period. Without understanding these key historical developments, students simply cannot appreciate the grace, beauty, and imagery in this speech. Because of my student's demonstrated needs, I created today's assignment using a fabulous interactive platform: DocsTeach. See my reflection about this application, which is an absolutely amazing resource for finding and using informational text in your classroom!
Since today will be a day full of critical thinking and reading in an independent setting, I will "hype" the lesson to get students motivated to take on the hard work ahead of them. I'll bring up the following features of the activity to pique their interest:
After students' interests are sufficiently piqued, I will direct students to our class's DocsTeach Activity page. (If you like this activity, you can download it from DocsTeach!) While they view the page on their Chromebooks, I will project the same screen for the entire class. Though the platform is not difficult to use, I've found that it's always a good idea to give them a preview of what they're doing, especially on an assignment that requires multiple steps. I will walk them through the collected resources & questions, taking special time to point out the lines that show what order to complete the steps in, the squares that give students directions (rather than documents to evaluate), the squares that require a response on their separate Google Document (which I will ask them to name "DocsTeach Activity"), and the squares that contain questions that need to be answered within the platform. Ultimately, I will have an email from every student with answers on it, a Google Doc with answers on it, and a final Inaugural Address C/C Activity document that compares Obama's Inaugural Address to Kennedy's Inaugural Address. (To consolidate the sample student answers in the Resources section, I included a DocsTeach Activity sheet from a student that included her answers to the in-platform questions on her Google Doc as well.)
After all students understand what is expected of them, they will begin working through the documents. The activity starts off by giving background on the Space Race, looking at the issues facing the nation both before the election of JFK (using a debate between Nixon & JFK) and after he is elected, and determining the credibility and purpose of texts surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. After they develop a more clear understanding of the historical context, they will pull in some modern context by comparing and contrasting JFK's Inaugural Address and Barack Obama's Inaugural Address using the Inaugural Address Compare & Contrast Document.
While students should have plenty of time to complete this activity in class, they CAN finish it at home if they did not complete it in class. (I will NOT tell them this before they start, however, because they tend to drag their feet if they know that they have time!) Before students leave today, I want to remind them AGAIN that they should actively be studying for their final exams! These finals will not be curved, and I will not be offering any extra credit to "balance out" a poor quarter. (I'm crazy about this throughout the year. I'm very opposed to extra credit in any sort of real quantity!) I will also post some suggestions to help students study actively and to apply their skills, rather than just memorizing terms. These are listed below just as they were delivered to my students. Also, as finals approach, I will be soliciting review materials (like those on Quizlet or practice tests that students have made) to post on my website in order to generate a large body of test-preparation materials that can help ALL of my students succeed!
Next class period, which is our final class period before we have our final exam review day, we will have our last lesson on Post-Modernism! Students will have a chance to ask any remaining questions about Post-Modernism and how it differs from Modernism, and we will look at another amazing speaker in depth: Martin Luther King, Jr.