What Should Our Response Have Been: WWII Seminar Prep (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT draw evidence from informational text to support analysis and research by working with small groups to answer questions about Night.

Big Idea

To prepare for a historical and literary seminar about WWII topics, students will speed-date big ideas from Night.


10 minutes

We will start class with ten minutes of reading time. I will read with the students during this time. 

Night Seminar Prep: Speed Dating

25 minutes

Later this week, we will be doing an integrated history/ELA seminar on WWII where students will be responsible for demonstrating their understanding of historical concepts and the ways these events and ideas are presented in poetry and Night

Students were supposed to finish reading the book by today, and I told them I was going to give a quiz over the book. The more that I thought about that, though, I decided it wasn't necessary. Instead, I am going to ask them to participate in a series of short, text-based discussions to gather evidence and generate thinking for their seminar based on their reading/comprehension of the text as a whole (SL.9-10.1a). 

We have used quite a few discussion structures in my class over the course of this year, so today, I am going to try a new technique. I call this technique speed dating, as students will only talk to their partner for three minutes before switching to a new partner. The point of a discussion like this is to keep students on their toes and to limit their opportunity to take the conversations off track. It also makes it easier for students to gather multiple perspectives on the topics under discussion since they will talk to six different people over the course of this activity (SL.9-10.1). 

The set-up is easy. My desks are already in rows, so I will have one row turn around to face the students behind them. I will do the same with the two rows behind that so that I have two very long horizontal rows of students facing each other. After each three minute round, the students who didn't have to turn their desks will move one desk to the right. I will remind them where to go each time that I tell them to move to a new partner. 

The students have a seminar prep sheet with four big-picture questions. For the first four rounds, I will have students discuss one question per round. For the last two rounds, I will let them discuss any question they feel like they need more thinking/idea generating time to complete. As they talk, I will encourage them to write down ideas so they have something to work with for the next section of class. All of this discussion will focus on textual evidence/ideas from their reading of Night (RL.9-10.1). 

Night Seminar Prep: Individual Investigation

15 minutes

Once the students have had a chance to talk about each of the questions provided, I will ask them to get the room back to normal and then have them return to their assigned seats. 

For the remainder of the period, I will ask students to look over the evidence that was generated in their discussions and annotate their notes for two things: 

  • What points/ideas require textual evidence to prove their validity? What quotes/passages could I use to support my claims (W.9-10.1b and W.9-10.9)? 
  • What points/ideas require more research? What, specifically, do I need to investigate in class tomorrow with the help of online databases/search capabilities (W.9-10.7)? 

Once they've identified where they need to beef up their support, I will encourage them to use any remaining time to start looking for text. 

I think it is important for students to have a combination of collaborative thinking time and individual thinking time in most lessons, but it is especially important today because I want students to have an opportunity to process what they heard and formulate new/individual ideas that they can then bring to the seminar later in the week. 

Wrap Up and Next Steps

5 minutes

I probably won't take a full five minutes to wrap things up, but I will make sure at the end of class to lay out the due dates for the rest of the week, reminding them that their seminar is on Thursday (we don't have school on Wednesday so the juniors can take the ACT test).