Students will come in today having answered a series of questions on James McBride’s essay “Hip-hop Planet;” I gave them all week to do this, telling them on Monday that these questions would act as a summative assessment of their ability to closely analyze a text at this point. So the expectation is that the answers they wrote will be thorough responses.
This piece, while a modern text, is nevertheless quite complex and has multiple central ideas working simultaneously. So it provides a great opportunity to work on standard two for reading informational texts, which explicitly says students in eleventh grade should be learning how to recognize multiple central ideas working together in a text. This piece is the anchor text for the Popular Culture unit in The Language of Composition 2e textbook, so there were over twenty questions to choose from; many of the nine I chose for students to answer (1,2,4,7 from “Questions for Discussion” on pg. 796, 1,3,7,8,10 from “questions on Rhetoric and Style” on pg. 797) focused in some way on author purpose and arguments (Here is a video explanation of the choices: hip hop questions mp4.mp4).
Because I want to conference one on one with individual students regarding their memoir essays, I will have students work in groups today as we jigsaw the questions for discussion, as explained in the next section.
Today I will have three groups of four students each, and will assign each group three questions (each group will get one of the first three questions for discussion because those three are more in-depth; I will then distribute the others more randomly). I’m having them work with three each so the discussion is of quality—too many questions will end up with superficial discussions. Also, giving each group different responsibilities for the full class discussion later will help increase the rigor in their responses, because they can’t rely on anyone else. I will also emphasize that groups will have to provide evidence for their responses.
Students will work in groups for about forty minutes as I conference with students for about five minutes each. When it seems that the groups are done (I will ask them, or will be able to tell by the increase in conversations not associated with the questions!), we will convene as a large group. We will go through the questions somewhat chronologically, with the group responsible for the question giving their answer and evidence, followed by open discussion or probing questions by me to dive deeper into the topic (I will particularly focus on asking about more evidence, and other parts of the essay not mentioned by the presenters, so students can see how all the evidence builds throughout the piece to develop multiple central ideas).
Next Steps: We will likely not finish today, so we will pick up with our discussion tomorrow.