Connecting Themes, Authors, & Our Lives: Class Discussion

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SWBAT determine how the themes in "Catcher in the Rye" reflect in the lives of the author and each other through a brainstorm and open-forum discussion.

Big Idea

Three themes, one author, and a whole lot of issues: what holds "The Catcher in the Rye" together?

Introduction & Welcome (Back): It's Edmond Rostand's Birthday!

5 minutes

I've scheduled extra time for today's introduction as students are returning from a week off of classes and I want to address a few welcome back ideas.

1. For today's "Daily Holiday", it's Edmond Rostand's Birthday, author of "Cyrano de Bergerac," one of my favorite plays.

2. Mashed Potatoes are the overall favorite part of Thanksgiving Dinner.

3. The rewrites of the argumentative paper are due tomorrow.

4. "Tell Me Something Good": What good thing happened over break?

The extra time is to address any questions or comments the students may have as we readjust to being back in class.  

Living Simply and Deliberately: Discussing Thoreau

20 minutes

While they were out, I asked students to read an excerpt each from Henry David Thoreau's "Walden" (the chapters "Where I Lived and What I Lived For" and "Conclusion") and "Civil Disobedience", and complete a set of questions, reviewing and asking for their thoughts on the readings. To review the work of Henry David Thoreau and the readings the students have completed, I ask the students to consider two questions while they read over their answers to the assignment along with Thoreau. 

1. "What do you think about Thoreau's choice to go live in the woods, 'simply' and 'deliberately'"?

2. What do you think about Thoreau's attitude toward government as as tool for the people to use?

We will discuss these ideas as a class, enabling students to determine the central idea of and analyze its development over the course of each text (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2) and determine how Thoreau's purpose is developed in each text (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6). Students direct this discussion, but we will fall back to the assigned questions if Thoreau's intent is missed.

We wrap up the discussion by passing in the homework questions worksheet. 

Thanks to the University of Virginia Library's Electronic Text Center and The Thoreau Society's "Thoreau Reader" for making these texts available online.

Introducing "Catcher in the Rye" A Pre-Reading Discussion

20 minutes

Students attentions are drawn to the the motifs identified on the Pre-Reading assignment for "The Catcher in the Rye" that we will be discussing in class. I explain what each means, and ask students to read the J. D. Salinger's Biography handout and identify how the three motifs may appear in the author's life. I stress there are no right or wrong answers here, but that they are to connect these themes in order to analyze their development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details both within the novel and from Salinger's own life (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2). Students will share their ideas with the class in order to continue forming their own thoughts and impressions; the whole-class conversation allows for students to hear a variety of impressions and ideas, as well as allow me to share my own with them.

I also ask students to brainstorm brainstorm a list of issues facing students today, as the issues facing the main character of "The Catcher in the Rye" drive the novel. Students need to be able to identify both the stresses on the character and themselves in order to understand the impact the novel had on society. These issues, and the motifs list, also help determine the themes of the novel, which we will analyze in detail (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2), and students will evaluate at the end of the unit. By asking students to share out their ideas, I can harness some of the uneasy energy they with undoubtedly have returning to class after a break. 

Wrapping Up: Homework and Reminders

5 minutes

For homework, students are to complete the "Catcher in the Rye" Anticipation Set on the same sheet as the motifs. I remind students we will discuss these tomorrow. I also remind students (again) about upcoming due dates and scheduling for our reading of "Catcher in the Rye".