Reflection: High Expectations The Trial Begins - Section 3: Whole Group Review


First, I confess that I am approaching this reflection with the advantage of it being July.  School is over, and as I revisit this lesson in order to reflect on it, I am thinking of something one of my students told me in a goodbye email: 

". . .  you inspire me to read more, the fact that you like the books your reading (i think) and that you are engaged helps. You discuss the books with the us, and you create a mature, comfortable environment for students.  You seem to care about what we have to say, which means a lot. I have never discussed books like we did with you, except with my parents, but it wasn't the same . . ."

We discuss books and all things written in my classroom.  A lot.  What's ironic is that often when I make the decision for a lesson to include whole group reading and discussion, I feel a twinge of guilt if I haven't created a formal assignment to accompany it:  a graphic organizer, a journal entry, a written character analysis, etc. There seems to always be a nagging voice inside, trying to convince me that "If you don't make them 'work' for it, they will never get it."  This very lesson, in fact, is followed by the introduction of a graphic organizer in the next lesson, so that my students can document their assessments of each witness.  "But what about today's lesson?" that voice still wants to know.

I have written before of how I believe whole group reading, with little to no strings attached aside from discussion, can promote reading for pleasure, a critical mindset that I need my students to maintain as they become high schoolers.  I counter that nagging voice in my head my reminding myself that to task my students with a "job" each time they read might hinder what I so badly want them to accept:  that reading and critically discussing texts is a normal function, and not just something done in English class.  Of course a person would and should have intelligent things to say about a text--why wouldn't he/she?

By now, most of us know that a key shift in the CCSS is that students participate in reading and writing tasks that are grounded in evidence from the texts they read.  From the looks of my student's email, she is ready and willing to make that shift.  Ninety-nine more students to go!

  Discussing The Text
  High Expectations: Discussing The Text
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The Trial Begins

Unit 12: To Kill A Mockingbird Part II
Lesson 1 of 8

Objective: SWBAT review chapters 14-16 of To Kill a Mockingbird through sharing and discussing their focus questions, followed by whole-group reading of chapter 17.

Big Idea: Order in the classroom: students take a front row as the trial of Tom Robinson begins.

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