A brief introduction to our look at Literature Circles for "The Catcher in the Rye":
We open class with a welcome and introduction to "The Catcher in the Rye". Appropriately, it's National Dice Day, as tomorrow, students will get the directions for their board game project, the second part of the "Catcher in the Rye" collaborative learning project. As students settle in, I welcome them and remind them of the calendar presented yesterday--today is a day to work, and in two days they will be in their first group meeting to share ideas and roles.
To begin our look at the novel, I share the first four minutes of "Crash Course: 'The Catcher in the Rye' Part I." This provides context for the voice of our narrator, Holden Caulfield, and gives the students another view at why this novel is worthy of study. I specifically only show the first four minutes (to 4:01) so not to "give away" too much of the story, or get into the more "adult" themes. Since we are addressing the development of Holden over the course of the novel's plot and how his interactions with other characters drive that story (RL.9-10.3), this video serves to contextualize concepts we will be discussing next week as we address Holden in contrast to two of his peers (see "Foiling Holden: Comparing and Contrasting Characters").
I also appreciate John Green's comments about living in an "image-driven" society; this is one of the concepts that drive my classes, visualizing on our own rather than relying on a screen to present an image for us.
Students have the bulk of the class period to read and complete their lit circle role assignments for chapters 1-5 of "Catcher in the Rye" at their own pace.
The responses to their literature circle assignments should reflect Holden's development. Students especially focus on how he relates to other characters, develops the plot of the story through his actions, and reveals the themes through his relationships and interactions: adulthood/growing up, elitism/prejudice, and trust (RL.9-10.3).
In order to ensure focus, students are permitted to move around the room, sit on the floor or in a different chair, and read to themselves. Despite the fact they will ask, students are not permitted to put on headphones and listen to music, as often this creates a distraction while reading. Students working on the Discussion Director, Connector, and Character Sorter roles will be seeking strong and thorough textual support in order to support their analysis of the novel and draw inferences from it (RL.9-10.1), students working on the Illustrator role are specifically seeking to draw inferences from the novel in order to illustrate a scene or concept (again, RL.9-10.1) and students who are working on the Vocab Finder role will be seeking to understand words in context, verifying the meaning of terms from the vocab list and using the terms appropriately (RL.9-10.4). Students will be working independently in order to take ownership for the material and seek ways to come to their own understanding of it.
Students are working independently to ensure they gain ownership of, and take responsibility for, the material assigned. Every student works at a different pace, every student appreciates reading in a different manner. Providing students this time to work allows them to work at their own pace and comfort level, but also to have me available if they have any questions or need any clarification.
In addition to having access to me for clarity or direction, students are given an entire class period to read and work on their literature circle assignments to ensure that it will be completed. With comprehension and meaningful understanding of the novel coming from group participation, it is imperative that every student is prepared to participate. This time allows me to "police" the students' completion and ensure they are gaining what they need, so their group peers will as well.
As students work, I will circulate the room to offer advice, answers, clarification, or focus as needed.
At the end of class, I ask students to return to their regular seats. I remind them that we will be addressing the directions for the board game project tomorrow, and in two days, they will get into their literature circle groups and discuss their role assignments. I also warn/remind them that there will be a reading check quiz following the literature circle discussion. Homework is to complete anything that was not finished in class today.