Genocide Background and Presentations

First period began the project we’ll be working on while reading Anne Frank. Students will create a 10-12 entry diary modeled on Anne Frank’s diary. Today, they chose one of the following locations/historical events as their setting:

  • Rwanda (Jean Kambanda, 1994)
  • Cambodia (Pol Pot, 1975-79)
  • Uganda (Idi Amin, 1969-1979)
  • Yugoslavia (Slobodan Milosevic, 1992-96)
  • Chile (Augusto Pinochet)
  • China (Mao Ze-Dong 1958-61 and 1966-69)
  • Turkey (Ismail Enver, 1915-20)
  • Afghanistan (Mullah Omar and the Taliban, 1986-2001)
  • Darfur, Sudan (present day)

Fourth, and sixth periods are finished up the anticipatory lesson today, drawing on students’ prior knowledge of the Holocaust and making it personal through a series of reflective writing exercises. We finished the slide show I created about the Holocaust.

Ruins

Barracks

Gas Chamber Ruins

Second period continued working on To Kill a Mockingbird. We should be finishing up Monday.

Homework
  • First period: none (except for research on project).
  • Second period: chapters 24-28.
  • Fourth and sixth periods: complete the reflection exercise we began in class.
Tom's Character and the Holocaust

First, fourth, and sixth periods are starting a unit on The Diary of Anne Frank. As such, we had an anticipatory lesson today, drawing on students’ prior knowledge of the Holocaust and making it personal through a series of reflective writing exercises. To do this, we looked at a slide show I created about the Holocaust, starting from the rise of the Nazis and ending with some photos I took in 2005 during my own visit to Auschwitz.

Walling up the Ghetto

Working

Leaving the Ghetto

Electrified Barbed Wire

Second period discussed Tom’s testimony in To Kill a Mockingbird. We also looked specifically at his character and how he is drawn: direct versus indirect characterization. Other students examined the character Dolphus Raymond and what we learn about him directly and indirectly.

Homework
  • First, fourth, and sixth periods: complete the reflection exercise we began in class.
  • Second period: complete the types of characters handout.

First period worked on proofreading, including an eight-step checklist. Final drafts due Monday.

Second period did group work on a few questions:

Miss Mayella’s motivation

An important part of understanding any character is understanding motivation. Re-read chapter 18. Take notes on what you learn about Mayella. They may be things you are told directly (direct characterization – for instance, her age) or they may be things you can infer by analyzing what she says, how she acts, or what others say about her. As you take notes about your observations, think about what motivates Mayella. It is clear that Atticus is trying to get her to admit that she lied about the attack. If she did lie, what would motivate her to do that? As the last entry in your notes, offer an explanation for what would motivate her to tell such a horrible lie.

Children in the courtroom

Jem, Scout, and Dill were obviously not supposed to be in the courtroom that day. Even today we do not encourage children to be in the courtroom during sensational trials. Why, then, does the author allow them inside? What is Lee’s purpose in seating them in the balcony? Why does Dill break down and cry? What do the children symbolize in this society? Think about these four questions before you submit your response to the drop-box. I expect more than a couple of sentences. THINK – what is her purpose in letting the children in to hear the testimony and observe the crowd?

Small Towns – Small Minds

Small towns thrive on gossip. A sensational trial like Tom Robinson’s will only add to the talk. Several of the older women in the novel categorize other citizens by social standing, heritage, etiquette and manners, yet they rarely mention true moral or ethical values as a criterion for judging someone’s character. As a way to evaluate your own feelings about these characters, place them in rank order from the most moral to the least moral. Then write a paragraph explanation of why you placed him/her in the two extreme positions.

  • Mr. Dolphus Raymond
  • Miss Maudie
  • Aunt Alexandra
  • Reverend Sykes
  • Judge Taylor
  • Bob Ewell
  • Mayella Ewell
  • Heck Tate

Create a class consensus ranking the morality of characters in the novel.

Fourth and sixth periods worked on crafting leads for their memoirs.

Homework
  • First period: choose a lead and create a final draft.
  • Second period: grammar work (online).
  • Fourth period: create two leads for your memoir.
  • Sixth period: complete the lead handout.

First period worked on leads. We looked at six examples:

  • The Dramatic Lead: I wouldn’t make it through the night without it.
  • Starting In the Middle Of a Scene: I was sure we’d find the blanket ripped and dirty.
  • Leisurely Lead: When I looked into my Grandma’s linen closet, I was amazed by the patchwork of color. Never had I seen so many different blankets. There were soft, fluffy chenille ones and old worn brown ones. Tucked in the middle, barely visible, with just a faded yellow corner sticking out, was the one I wanted.
  • Beginning At the Ending: I joyfully pulled the tattered corners around me and sighed as I settled into the corner of the chair.
  • Introducing the Narrator: I used to think I was different from everyone else – that I had a secret friend that no one else had. But I’ve come to realize that lots of people had special relationships with inanimate objects. Yes, I admit it. I had a “blankie.”
  • Dialogue Lead: “Only insecure, immature babies need to drag their blankets around with them!”

Students then worked in pairs to create similar leads for the memoirs.

Second period finished preparing for their oral presentations and gave the actual presentations. How many of them figured out that the point of the activity was the preparation and not the presentation itself? I’m not sure.

Fourth and sixth periods worked on diction, particularly improving diction by using specific nouns and action verbs.

Homework
  • First period: two full-paragraph leads for the memoir using two different lead types.
  • Second period:
    • read chapters 16-18;
    • finish online forum discussions;
    • prepare for part of speech test (next week);
    • work on grammar topics at courses.ourenglishclass.net.
  • Fourth and sixth periods: third draft.

First period worked on improving their diction. The first time we did this, we worked on specific nouns; this time we worked on including action verbs.

Second period looked at three questions:

  1. What is Calpurnia’s purpose in the novel? In order to answer that question, you need to think about the attitudes the townspeople of Maycomb express about African Americans. Then ask yourself why Harper Lee places an African American inside the Finch home. Her role there is traditional: she is a servant. But what else is Calpurnia? What is the significance of her taking the children to her church? Share your thoughts about Harper Lee’s purpose in creating Calpurnia for the novel. Include quotes from the text to support your points.
  2. Aunt Alexandra represents another segment of Southern society in the 1930s; the interview with three women who “grew up white in the South” during the ’30s represents another expression of this demographic’s view. Compare what Aunty is trying to teach Scout and Jem with what we read in the interview. Is there an overlap?
  3. Atticus’s decision to represent Tom in court begins to have a negative impact on his family. In other words, his decision to represent a black man angered the entire community, and his children suffer from the racial unrest generated by the trial. Did Atticus make a poor decision to represent Tom in such an emotionally charged trial? Was it the right decision? What does his decision reveal about the society he lived in?

Working in small groups, students discussed the questions and began preparing oral presentations.

Fourth and sixth periods looked at showing versus telling in writing. We examined a few examples, then worked together as a class to tease out some less-than-descriptive passages:

Example 1
Telling (Loaded passage)

I misbehaved.

Showing

My grandmother told me not to get into the cookies, but I love anything and everything sweet: I couldn’t resist. I climbed onto the counter, reached for the cookie jar, and just as I had the sweet treasure in my grasp, I lost my balance. Everything crashed to the floor, leaving crumbs and shards of glass all over the floor.

Example 2
Telling (Loaded passage)

I was nervous.

Showing

My heart was beating so fast, so hard, I was sure the judges could hear. My palms were slick with sweat, and I knew there were beads on my forehead.

Example 3
Telling (Loaded passage)

He was a good swimmer, but a little weird.

Showing (To a degree)

He was a good swimmer, but he had odd ideas about what to eat before a meet and how to act before a race. He said we should…

Showing (Developed as class)

He was a good swimmer, but he had odd ideas about what to eat before a meet and how to act before a race.

“Before every race,” he told us one day, “you should eat green apples, bologna skin, and cereal with water.”

He announced, “Before we began a race, we jumped around.”

Students then worked in pairs, looking for examples in their own memoirs where details are lacking and where the author told instead of told.

Homework
  • First period: third draft.
  • Second period: discussion forums.
  • Fourth and sixth periods: second draft.

First period worked on revising their initial memoir drafts. We looked for content holes and/or loaded content–places where the writer didn’t give as much detail as he/she could.

Second period discussed the use of a socially offensive word in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Fourth and sixth periods began the first drafts of their memoirs, crafting thesis statements and digging into the work of writing a memoir.

Homework
  • First period: complete second draft.
  • Second period:
    • read chapters 12-15;
    • answer discussion questions on web site.
  • Fourth and sixth periods: finish first draft.

First period began working on their first drafts. We looked at the nature of a thesis statement and how it can guide writing. We also talked about how it can change. Then we began writing!

Second period worked on the beginnings of a graphic organizer that will show how much Scout has changed over the course of the novel. We also examined the legends surrounding Boo Radley. We did this in divided small groups and then shared the findings with the class.

Fourth and sixth looked at the same question as first period yesterday: how is writing an essay (especially a memoir) like a treasure hunt? We used a graphic organizer to work out our thoughts, working in pairs and then as a class. We then addressed three pre-writing strategies:

  1. Free writing
  2. Brainstorming
  3. Clustering
Homework
  • First period:
    • first draft;
    • memoir planning guide filled out.
  • Second period:
    • chapters 9-11;
    • three instances of the repeated racial slur in Mockingbird that seem to have different conntations.
  • Fourth and sixth periods: use each of the three pre-writing strategies to explore three of the topics from yesterday’s homework.

First period worked on a simple question: how is writing an essay (especially a memoir) like a treasure hunt? We used a graphic organizer to work out our thoughts, working in pairs and then as a class. We then addressed three pre-writing strategies:

  1. Free writing
  2. Brainstorming
  3. Clustering

Second period looked at the question of point of view and its affect on a reader. We discussed whether or not Scout is a reliable narrator in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Fourth and sixth periods looked at the memoir form and compared it to other forms of writing.

Homework
  • First period: use each of the three pre-writing strategies to explore three of the topics from yesterday’s homework.
  • Second period:
  • Fourth and sixth periods: a list of 10-15 events/relationships that could serve as a topic for a memoir (in other words, has a high “so what?” value).

First period began looking at what makes a memoir a memoir: it’s short-story-like quality, its highly-charged emotional feel, etc.

Second period began working on To Kill a Mockingbird. We started working on an anticipation guide and talked about the basic plot. We finished with a reading and discussion about the Jim Crow laws of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

Fourth and sixth periods had class meetings, discussing how we could improve some troubling issues in class and what we might do to make things run more smoothly.

Homework
  • First period: a list of 10-15 events/relationships that could serve as a topic for a memoir (in other words, has a high “so what?” value).
  • Second period: chapters 1-4 of To Kill a Mockingbird.

All classes had MAP testing.

The MAP test is an adaptive test produced by the Northwest Evaluation Association. According to NWEA’s web site,

The assessment itself is unique in that it adapts to the student’s ability, accurately measuring what a child knows and needs to learn. In addition, MAP tests measure academic growth over time, independent of grade level or age. Most importantly, the results educators receive have practical application to teaching and learning.

We will be using the MAP results to guide individualized learning.

Second period finished up the classwork for their memoirs. We discussed proofreading techniques and put some of them into practice.

First, fourth, and sixth periods began their memoir project. We looked at the importance and fragility of memory, reading a passage from The Giver and Judith Ortiz Cofer’s short essay, “The Last Word.

Homework
  • Second period: final draft of memoir.
  • First, fourth, and sixth periods: essay. Topic: “A time I remembered something differently than someone else.”

Second period worked on improving their diction in their memoirs, specifically focusing on creating more specific nouns and verbs. I spoke individually with several students about their drafts and ways to improve it. The class is slowly coming to realize that writing is a long, time-consuming process.

First, fourth, and sixth periods had a selection test on the excerpt from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. We took a little time to study, took the test, then went over it at the end. Add to that the starter and that pretty much wrapped up our day.

Homework
  • Second period:
    • fourth draft of memoir;
    • ten synonyms for “go”, “say”, and “think”.
  • First, fourth, and sixth periods: none.

First, fourth, and sixth periods ended units on an excerpt from Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. We’ll be having a very short selection test tomorrow.

Second period worked on editing their second drafts. We spent a little time concentrating on the lead, but we also looked at content gaps again.

Homework
  • First period:
    • study for the selection test.
    • re-write assignment on a personally influencial book.
  • Fourth and sixth periods:
    • questions 1-7 (pg 470);
    • “Autobiography” side of handout (sixth period only; fourth period completed in class);
    • study for the selection test.
  • Second period: complete edits and create third draft.