Debates, Havisham, and Newsletters

First period completed their debates. One student volunteered to tally the votes and see whom the class chose as the best debaters.

Second period worked a little more on Great Expectations before watching a PBS version of the film. We watched the scene in which Pip first meets Miss Havisham, and we compared our own visions (sketched out beforehand) with the film’s director’s.

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Fourth and sixth periods continued working on their Charlie reports. Most of them should be done.

After school, everyone was eager to get out — well, almost everyone.

Two first-period students, trying to set a new fashion trend
Two first-period students, trying to set a new fashion trend


Second period: read through chapter 20.

Second period began a small series of lessons on foreshadowing. It’s intended to help students see how authors in general and Dickens in particular use foreshadowing; additionally, students will be learning how to identify clues that could be foreshadowing.

First, fourth, and sixth periods continued their debates. Sixth period finished; fourth period lacks two debates and will conclude after spring break; first period will conclude tomorrow.


Second period:

  • read chapters 12 and 13;
  • work on themes database (you must have an account to access this resource).

First, fourth, and sixth periods began their debates. We just barely got started in first period; fourth and sixth periods made a fair amount of progress. Sixth period, in fact, will most definitely finish tomorrow; fourth period might have to pick it back up after spring break.

Second period discussed the surprises of chapters 8-10 in Great Expectations. The most significant:

All this while, the strange man looked at nobody but me, and looked at me as if he were determined to have a shot at me at last, and bring me down. But he said nothing after offering his Blue Blazes observation, until the glasses of rum-and-water were brought; and then he made his shot, and a most extraordinary shot it was.

It was not a verbal remark, but a proceeding in dump show, and was pointedly addressed to me. He stirred his rum-and-water pointedly at me, and he tasted his rum-and-water pointedly at me. And he stirred it and he tasted it: not with a spoon that was brought to him, but with a file.

He did this so that nobody but I saw the file; and when he had done it he wiped the file and put it in a breast-pocket. I knew it to be Joe’s file, and I knew that he knew my convict, the moment I saw the instrument. I sat gazing at him, spell-bound. But he now reclined on his settle, taking very little notice of me, and talking principally about turnips. (The Free Online Library)

Many more surprises to come, of course.

  • First, fourth, and sixth: complete debate preparation as necessary.
  • Second period:
    • read chapters 11 and 12;
    • work on theme database (using notes from class and readings).
Miss Havisham

Miss Havisham, in art by Harry Furniss
Miss Havisham, in art by Harry Furniss

Second period  went over chapter seven in groups, discussing the themes we’ll be tracing throughout the book. We also began a list of characters, as Dickens’ novels can be a bit on the character-rich side.

We also read aloud the opening of chapter eight, in which Miss Havisham is introduced. “She’s crazy” seemed to be the general consensus.

First, fourth, and sixth periods continued working on their debate preparation. All three periods will begin their debates tomorrow.

  • First, fourth, and sixth periods:
  • complete both outlines of the debate presentation using the Debate Graphic Organizer;
  • complete both speeches (using the outlines to guide you).
  • Second period:
    • complete chapters eight through ten;
    • be prepared to discuss the question: “Is Miss Havisham proud of her broken heart?”;
    • check for a term that means “one who is proud of his/her pain/wounds.”

First, fourth, and sixth periods are taking breaks from their Publish projects. First period, in fact, will be spending no more class time on projects; fourth and sixth will have one more day in the library.

First, fourth, and sixth periods are working on debate preparations. We’re doing a very quick unit on persuasive speaking this week, and students will be debating each other on selected topics. Today, first period began preparations by choosing topics, finding a partner, and filling out a debate graphic organizer.

Second period began teasing out the difficult Great Expectations. It’s like weight-lifting, I told them: you don’t develop any if you never push yourself. This is like putting extra weight on the bar, I explained.

Regarding the Antigone/Lord of the Flies project, I extended the due date to this Friday. I won’t be assessing any of them until spring break, so I gave them the extra time.

  • First and fourth periods: complete the debate graphic organizer.
  • Second period: read chapters six and seven.
  • Sixth period: none.
Last Editing and First Pages

First period completed the Giver projects. They’re not actually due until next Friday, so students can come in early to do additional work on them, but we won’t be spending any more class time on them. dickens_great_expectations_title_page

Second period began Great Expectations.

My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.

I give Pirrip as my father’s family name, on the authority of his tombstone and my sister – Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones.  […]

Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.

“Hold your noise!” cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among the graves at the side of the church porch. “Keep still, you little devil, or I’ll cut your throat!”

We began with a few tips on how to read Dickens:

  1. Dickens tends to write dialogue with a touch of colloquialism. “Varmint” might be “warmit”, as someone living in rural England might have pronounced it in Dickens’ day.
  2. Dickens’ writing tends to have a conversational feel to it. As such, he uses a lot of compound-complex sentences with diversion piled on top of diversion. At first it’s difficult; after a while, it’s much easier.
  3. Dickens is, in some ways, the king of sarcasm. He likes to describe things (particularly social injustices) with a tone of false high moral rectitude. The obvious hypocrisy is intended as sarcasm.
  4. Dickens demands to be read out loud. Students who can get access to an audio book are encouraged to do just that and follow along.

We also divided up some initial themes to be aware of (and search for) while reading the initial chapters:

Pip and the Convict
Pip and the Convict
  • economics
  • family units
  • education
  • housing
  • penal system
  • law enforcement
  • social classes
  • gender roles

Fourth and sixth periods spent another day working on their Charlie reports. Students are learning how to use Microsoft Publisher like pros, including how to use styles to modify all content at once and how to improve and modify text and graphic layout.

  • First, fourth, and sixth periods: none.
  • Second period:
    • read chapters 1-5;
    • continue working on Antigone/Lord of the Flies presentation.

All students in all classes took the spring 2009 MAP test today. It’s a good way to measure progress from the beginning of the year, but it does take one day of class time. Then again, nothing’s free.

After completing the test, students worked on their individual projects: first period, the newsletter for The Giver; fourth and sixth periods, the Charlie Report; second period, the Lord of the Flies/Antigone presentations.

Media Center Work

First period continued working on their Giver newsletter projects. They’re almost all complete; Friday will be the last day for everyone to finish up.

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens

Second period worked on web quest to begin the new unit on Dickens’ Great Expectations. Students looked at several web sites, but most popular were the

Fourth and sixth periods continued working on the Charlie/Algernon report. We’ll be completing it tomorrow and Friday. (Tomorrow we’ll be having MAP testing, so we will only have a few minutes to work.)

  • Second period: continue the web quest (who knows — there might be a quiz Friday on it).
  • Fourth period: complete the preposition practice worksheet.

First period today began creating their Giver newsletters. We’ll be finishing it by the end of the week.

Second period went to the Peace Center to see a dramatization of To Kill a Mockingbird. Ann Hicks, at the Greenville Times, was not thrilled with the performance, but the kids all enjoyed it. There was disappointment that the one-hour, shortened version completely eliminated many students’ favorite character: Boo Radley.

Fourth and sixth periods worked on their debate preparation. Today’s task: begin outlining personal positions. We’ll begin working on opposing views at the end of the week.

  • Second period:
    • complete the participation self-evaluation; and,
    • complete the starter self-evaluation.

The quarter is winding down. We have just a few days remaining (two, I believe). As such, it’s a time of winding down: we’re getting participation and starter grades finalized in all classes.

First period additionally worked on compound-complex sentences. The common response was groan but everyone’s slowly getting the hang of identifying subordinate and independent clauses.

Second period spent one last day working on their Antigone/Lord of the Flies project. The actual Power Point presentation development will have to be something they complete at home: we simply can’t afford to dedicate more class time to the project.

More Writing and Planning

First period began creating their Giver newsletters. We typed all the articles and saved them in a centralized location, thus creating a central pool of material for students to draw from in designing and creating their newsletters.

Second period continued working on the Antigone/Lord of the Flies project.

Writing and Planning
Writing and Planning

I provided a Antigone / Lord of the Flies guide for students to focus their discussion and planning.

Writing and Planning
Writing and Planning

We’ll probably spend one more day (Monday) working in class.

Writing and Planning
Writing and Planning

We’ll likely take Friday to present the results of our writing and planning.

Writing and Planning
Writing and Planning

Fourth period worked on typing their Algernon reports in order to create report newsletters. We’ll be doing that next week.

Sixth period didn’t have class due to the student-faculty basketball game.


None, for any classes.