Deeper Shades of Local Color: Clarifying Dialect & Mapping Regions
Lesson 5 of 8
Objective: SWBAT incorporate independent research into a collaborative discussion by characterizing and mapping the distinct regions of the United States.
We open class today with a welcome to "Library Lovers Day," and yes, note that it is Valentine's Day. Today's Friday Favorite poll asks students to vote for and justify our favorite Winter Olympic sport category (ski, skate, hockey, sled, etc.).
As with the Daily Holidays, Friday Favorite votes serve to build a sense of community and trust within the classroom, encouraging students to share their thoughts and participate in a wide range of discussions, build on others' ideas, express their own ideas clearly (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1). In addition, the practice developing and supply evidence for their claims--even in an informal situation--should translate to students' writing as we develop more critical and evaluative pieces this semester (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1b).
I get to share one of my passions with the students here, as I am a big fan of the Olympics, the winter games especially. When I can, I share my interests, in an effort to get students to open up about their own, both in writing and in informal discussion.
Today, students will be reviewing the assignment they have completed on Mark Twain's use of dialect in "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", translating the meaning of dialectic expressions, identifying implied, connotative meaning (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4) and figures of speech/figurative language, such as hyperbole, idiom, and simile (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5a). This activity was assigned previously (see "Accent + Diction = Dialect"); today is an opportunity for students to review, hear, and discuss these examples, as they struggled on this assignment when working on their own. Reviewing as a class allows me to reteach the skills for understanding dialect, and check for student understanding as we do.
I return the assignments to the students, telling them they have not been graded, and students will be taking notes to review these ideas. I begin by projecting the assignment onto the front board; we will be writing the correct information and notes into the blanks so students can make their own corrections and take notes (just to note, day-of, my projector stopped working, so I simply added each note by hand).
For each item on the activity, I ask a student to read it, trying their best to reflect the dialect of the piece's setting. Being able to hear the word use always helps students draw connections with dialect.
After reading the item, I ask students to identify what they feel are the key words or phrases in each, especially the words that contribute to figurative language.
Using those key words and examples of figurative language, we work towards gleaning the meaning of each, as I ask, then direct student volunteers to helping decode or explain the meaning of each.
Once we have gone though all of the items, I ask for questions. In order to extend the activity and draw connections to students' prior knowledge, I ask for examples of words they consider "dialect": words that are unique to a region or group (for example, water fountain vs. bubbler, soda vs. pop, the pronunciation of milk, caught/cot, pin/pen, etc.)
As a whole-class activity, I can adjust to meet the students' needs and reactions, as well as call on specific students who need attention or whom I noted specifically struggled or did well on this assignment when it was assigned.
Today, we will be completing the Regionalism Map Project students began yesterday.
Students began in collaborative groups with a blank copy of National Geographic's United States Xpeditions map (available for classroom use). In order to demonstrate and build understanding of local color and Regionalism--the driving elements of Twain's "The Notorious Jumping Frog" and Harte's "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"--students map and label the boundaries of the regions of the U.S., identify archetypal characters and stereotypes associated with each, and place the stories they have read into each region. Both Twain and Harte play on and allude to these preconceived notions of people from their setting in order to give the readers characterization. Drawing on prior knowledge and preconceived notions about regions, students began, and continue, a thoughtful exchange of ideas (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a). Working in collaborative groups, students respond to each others' perspectives, qualify or justify their own views, and make new connections or reactions (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d).
Today, I focus on two things with the students. First, last night, students were asked to research archetypes and stereotypes of each region (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7). This informal research assignment provided them the opportunity to expand on their prior knowledge and incorporate their findings into the product of this project . Second, I am asking them to explaining why they made the choices into archetypes and stereotypes, as well as how the stories they're placing on the maps exhibit local color, as I circulate the room.
In the end, student maps express an understanding of how each region of the United States has its own flavor and character, as they incorporate their prior knowledge and researched information. This activity sets the stage for a later discussion: in the era of instant communication and mass media, do regional differences still matter?
With two minutes remaining, I ask students to return to their desks, and remind them that the biography reading of Bret Harte (featured in today's lesson image) and Harte's short story, "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" is due for next time. As we continue our look at Regionalism, students should take note of specific details that make the story "Western."