Literature Circle Discussion Day: A Focus on Connections (Chapters 17-21)

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SWBAT analyze connections between "To Kill a Mockingbird" and other literature and experiences, drawing from multiple sources, in order to analyze the development of events and theme in the novel through a small-group literature circle discussion.

Big Idea

As Scout learns that all people in Maycomb are connected, students draw connections between the text and their own experiences, reading, and knowledge.

Introduction & Welcome: It's Chocolate Parfait Day!

3 minutes

I open class with a welcome to students and set up National Chocolate Parfait Day (a few recipe ideas after the link), and a connection to "layers" provides an opportunity to review student understanding of the novel as well as a review of Costas' Three Levels of Questioning, a concept I ask them to consider with every assignment (such as "Perspective Makes All The Difference" and their summative Creative Project). As always, Daily Holidays serve to draw students in a build student ownership and a sense of community in the classroom. 

Lit Circle Discussion: Chapters 17-21

45 minutes

Students pull their desks into pods of six with the members of their groups, and take the folder for the group. These folders are used to turn in their assignments and provide a place to hold their literature circle worksheets. I also return work to students in these folders with each group meeting.

Groups check to make sure each assignment is done, and take note of any absences (in case a member of another group needs to be "taken hostage" or borrowed to fill in).

As students discuss today, I circulate the room, providing clarification and focus as needed, and especially listening for how students address the focus idea from yesterday: how and what Scout learns about the three primary themes in the novel: courage/bravery, education, and prejudice, as well as the students' own thoughts on and reactions to these topics. 

Literature Circle discussions begin with the factual, text-based review of the Quiz Maker. 

First, the Quiz Maker writes questions that require students to know strong, thorough, and specific evidence from the text that will be used to support analysis (RL.9-10.1). Members of the group answer the quiz on their Literature Circle Worksheet.

Second, the Discussion Director asks his or her questions, and has the responsibility to be the "group leader." The Discussion Director conducts the in-depth conversation about these questions, and only shares his or her responses once the group's conversation has died out. The Discussion Director's questions and draw evidence from the text to support his or her reading analysis (W.9-10.9a), demonstrating and supporting how ideas develop over the course of the text (RL.9-10.2). 

Third, the Character Sorter shares the three significant characters he or she identified. These mini-character biographies explore how Scout interact with other characters, to demonstrate how those characters and interactions advance plot and develop the key themes of the novel (RL.9-10.3).

Fourth, the Connector shares his or her connections. The connector gathers evidence to support their ideas from a multitude of sources in order to identify significant connections and comparisons between the novel, their own lives, other literary and artistic works, and the wider world (W.9-10.8), highlighting and explaining how key themes develop over the course of both the novel and their connections, summarizing the key events in the reading (RL.9-10.2). The connector also encourages reaction to and discussion about the connections by sharing their connections and asking for input. Connectors share personal connections in the Text-to-Self response, providing an opportunity for other groups members develop and extend with their own experiences and connections, actively incorporating others into the discussion (SL.9-10.1c). For grades, each literature circle assignment is worth twenty points, divided between naming chapters by providing titles for each (five points) and completing the assignment itself (fifteen points). The points are divided among the parts of the assignment, so for the Connector assignment, who provides three connections between the the text and another text, themselves, and the world as a whole, each connections is worth five points for specificity, completeness, and depth of thought, and for meeting the assigned length.  

Fifth, the Illustrator shares how he or she visualized a scene in the novel, sharing their image and write-up on it. The Illustrator portrays a key scene in the novel in two different media, and then analyzes what they chose to emphasize or leave out (RL.9-10.7).

Sixth and finally, the Vocab Master locates the meaning of "new" words and phrases as Scout uses them and explains the impasct of this diction on the text (RL.9-10.4). As with the Quiz Maker, the students in the groups write the terms, their part of speech, and definition on the Literature Circle Worksheet. 

In the event a member of the group is absent, or the assignment is incomplete, a group should ask a member of another group to cover that assignment for them. Students are all informed this is a possibility.

Students are working in literature circles because they are both student-driven and collaborative. Students shape meaning in their interactions, drawing from the novel. The assignments require students to discuss the novel with diverse (teacher-assigned) partners, building a sense of team identity, on a wide-range of novel related topics (SL.9-10.1), including specific details of plot events (RL.9-10.1), and how these details develop themes (RL.9-10.2), characterization (RL.9-10.3), and the narrator's point-of-view influences what we see in Scout's memory of 1932-1935 (RL.9-10.5). Literature circle assignment also require students to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words and their impact on the text (RL.9-10.4). In order to demonstrate and strengthen their own learning, students present their assignments clearly to their peers, in a manner that allows group members to take effective notes on the novel (SL.9-10.4). 

Two-Minute Warning: Wrap-Up & Reminders

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining in class, I direct student groups to turn in their group's assignment folders, pull the desks back in rows, and complete their "Perspective Makes All The Difference" (see above) paragraph for class tomorrow.