As students enter the room, I welcome them at the door and hand out a copy of the "Catcher in the Rye" Literature Circle calendar and directions. As they settle after the bell, I wish them a happy "National Apple Pie Day," and ask if anyone has any guesses why this day may be in December--apparently there are two (the other one is in May). After students share a thought or guess, we move on to discussing the Anticipation Set from "The Catcher in the Rye."
As always the Daily Holiday serves as an ice breaker and a community-builder in my classroom. By asking for more "off-the-wall" thoughts on why National Apple Pie Day is in December, I hope to encourage students to take risks with their thoughts in class.
In order to introduce the "big ideas" of "Catcher in the Rye," students completed five statements of belief that reflect Holden Caulfield's attitudes in the novel. In order to get students thinking about these ideas, I ask them to complete the sentence, without explanation, in class. My intent is to also not comment on the students' responses, and simply let them sink in to the class. Students should be able to share their ideas without feeling judged for them, hence why there is no comment. By sharing their ideas, students can gain understanding of the opinions and beliefs of their peers, providing them with frame of reference for the upcoming literature circle discussions. Here's an example of my students Completing the phrase "I hate...".
Once students have shared their ideas for all five Anticipation Set items, I ask them to go back and explain their responses, one at a time, for each item, in order to provide some context if they feel they needed to do so.
After the students' explanations, I, in turn, explain how each statement connects to one of the three big thematic motifs in the novel (e.g. "I hate..." reflects to Holden's use of the phrase, "I hate the movies," "I hate the word grand," etc.; this in turn shows Holden's struggle with identity, as he is trying to establish what he cares about and what bothers him). The purpose of this section is to provide understanding how Holden Caulfield's characterization is shaped and developed by the themes of the novel and how the themes are drive by Holden (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2; students need to establish the themes before we can explore how they develop. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3, as we are ultimately focusing on characterization. ).
I present the calendar which I handed students as they entered the classroom today, to give them a glimpse of what is coming up before Winter Break.
For the remainder of class, I ask students to read along--in order to engage the visual learners--and listen--in order to engage the auditory learners as I explain the five roles for the literature circle (I also ask the kinestetic/tactile learners to please refrain from interpretive dance, but rather to jot notes down as we go through the discussion). We are studying "Catcher in the Rye" in literature circles in order to give students the opportunity to explore the novel on their own, building to mastery of CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1; collaborate and draw on each other in order to set goals and group norms, building to mastery of CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1b; and understanding unfamiliar vocabulary, building to mastery of CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4d. In these literature circles, students are responsible for a different, specific assignment at each group meeting, taking on a different role in the group. Roles are explained in detail on the attached group directions.
I am reading through the directions with and to the students, as past experience has taught me that despite the clarity of the directions, there will be ideas misinterpreted. This allows me to address questions immediately, as well as provide multiple modes of presenting the information to the students. If students are disengaged, or if they need energy channeled, I ask students to read aloud as well.
Once I have presented the directions to the students, I project the groups (pre-made, in order to head off any grouping issues) onto the board, and ask the students to get into their groups, introduce themselves, and assign roles to each member of the group for each literature circle day via the Lit Circle Roles Sign-Up sheet.
As completed role assignment sheets are the "exit ticket" from class today, this will run until the bell.