main idea

Hidden Stage Directions and Summarizing

English I Honors students began 1.5 by looking at all the various stage directions that Shakespeare embeds in his text.

We finished up with the tirade Tybalt goes on when he discovers Romeo’s presence.

English 8 students continued with the new unit, which will focus on summarizing and outlining, which in turn relies on determining the main idea of texts. To this end, we reviewed and practiced summarizing.

Homework

  • English 8 Studies: complete the final summarizing practice.
  • English I Honors: re-read 1.5 from “She doth teach the torches to burn bright” to the end.

English 8 students finished up their practice of determining the main idea of a text. English I Honors students worked on their first lit circle, debriefing in a forum afterward to make sure things improve the next time.

Homework

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • read chapters 5 and 6 for tomorrow;
    • begin preparing for the next lit circle (choosing the job and preparing the material).
Calypso Redux and Main Idea/Text Structure Combo

First and fourth periods worked on Calypso again and comparing the song to the poem. We worked with partners to identify differences in the relationships and Calypso herself, looking Samuel Palmer’s 1848–9 painting The Departure of Ulysses from the Isle of Calypso in the conclusion.

Samuel Palmer (1805–1881) The Departure of Ulysses from the Isle of Calypso, 1848–9
Samuel Palmer (1805–1881)
The Departure of Ulysses from the Isle of Calypso, 1848–9

We finished up looking at the work we’d done and completing some informal writing planning based on the notes we’d created.

First and fourth period notes
First and fourth period notes

Second and seventh periods combined the last two skills and worked on determining both the main idea of a text and its text structure.

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Homework

  • English 8 Strategies: complete the text structure identification work we began in class (available here for download).
  • English I Honors: read 1043-1059 of the Odyssey. (Students without a book will need to do the reading in the morning.)
Calypso and Main Ideas

First and fourth periods worked on Homeric Similes and compared a Calypso song to her part in the Odyssey. We broke off into groups and analyzed the two pieces.

Homeric similes thus far
Homeric similes thus far

Second and seventh periods worked on determining the main idea of a text.

The Rorschach inkblot test is a psychological test to determine a person’s personality by the person’s interpretations of ten abstract designs. The test is named after Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922) who developed the inkblots, although he did not use them for personality analysis.

The test is considered “projective” because the patient is supposed to project his or her real personality into the inkblot through the interpretation. The inkblots are purportedly ambiguous, structureless entities. The patient is supposed to give a clear structure by explaining what he or she “sees” in the ink blots. Those who believe in the effectiveness of such tests think that they are a way of getting into the deepest recesses of the patient’s subconscious mind. Those who give such tests believe themselves to be experts at interpreting their patients’ interpretations.

Rorschach testing is inherently problematic. The patient provides an interpretation of the ink blot, but the therapist is going to make her own interpretation for the ink blot. This means that the therapist is interpreting himself as well as the patient. But who is going to interpret the therapist’s interpretation to make sure it’s true?

The Rorschach enthusiast should recognize that inkblots or dreams or drawings or handwriting may be no different in structure than spoken words or gestures. Each is capable of many interpretations, some true, some false, some meaningful, some meaningless. It is an unprovable assumption that dreams or inkblot interpretations issue from a source deep in the subconscious which wants to reveal the “real” self.

Adapted from http://skepdic.com/inkblot.html

Homework

  • English 8 Strategies: none.
  • English I Honors: reread the Calypso part of the Odyssey looking for differences between the poem and the song “Calypso” regarding the relationship between Odysseus and Calypso and regarding Calypso’s personality.

All periods had an extended quiz today. First and fifth periods had a quiz on main ideas in texts, commonly confused words (i.e., homonyms), and using quotes from sources in one’s own writing. Second and fourth periods had the act three quiz for Romeo and Juliet.

After the quiz, second and fourth periods looked at the use of subtext in “The Conversation Piece” by Ned Guymon. We’ll finish up tomorrow and then apply what we’ve learned to Romeo and Juliet.

Homework
  • First and fifth periods: none.
  • Second and fourth periods: read 4.1 from Romeo and Juliet.
Review Squared

All periods worked on quizzes that they have coming up Monday.

The practice quiz for first and fifth periods is right here. Their quiz on Monday will cover determination of the main idea of a text, use of direct quotes of sources in writing, and commonly confused words.

Second and fourth periods will have a quiz on act three of Romeo and Juliet.

Homework
  • All periods: study for Monday’s quiz.
  • Second and fourth periods: complete the project paragraph on “Decoration Day” for turn-in Monday.

First and fifth periods continued working on “Flowers for Algernon.” We’ll be returning to embedded quotes tomorrow, using our work today as a springboard. Both periods will have a quiz later this week on:

  • Determining the main idea of a passage; and
  • Embedding quotes from a source into their own writing.

Second and fourth periods began their presentations of their redacted versions of scenes two through five of act three. We’ll be finishing up act three on Wednesday or Thursday, which means the quiz on act three will be Friday or Monday.

Homework
  • First and fifth periods: none.
  • Second and fourth periods: 
    • read 3.3 and 3.4;
    • complete the “Parallel Speeches” short writing;
    • “Decoration Day” paragraph due next Monday.

First and fifth periods finished up the work on determining the main idea of a text. We’ll be touching on it more throughout this final unit, but for now, we’re done with the explicit instruction and practice for this skill.

Second and fourth periods began working on their major projects for the Romeo and Juliet unit. As promised, we began the planning for the first third of the project in class. Notes from second period and fourth period are available.

Homework

None.

Irony and Main Ideas

First and fifth periods continued with the scaffolded work on determining a text’s main idea. We turned to a fictional text today, though it’s written in the style of a non-fictional report.

progris riport 4-Mar 8

Their going to use me! Im so excited I can hardly write. Dr Nemur and Dr Strauss had a argament about it first. Dr Nemur was in the office when Dr Strauss brot me in. Dr Nemur was worryed about using me but Dr Strauss told him Miss Kinnian rekemmended me the best from all the people who she was teaching. I like Miss Kinnian becaus shes a very smart teacher. And she said Charlie your going to have a second chance. If you volunteer for this experament you mite get smart. They dont know if it will be perminint but theirs a chance. Thats why I said ok even when I was scared because she said it was an operashun. She said dont be scared Charlie you done so much with so little I think you deserv it most of all.

So I got scaird when Dr. Nemur and Dr. Strauss argud about it. Dr. Strauss said I had something that was very good. He said I had a good motorvation. I never even knew I had that. I felt proud when he said that not every body with an eye-q of 68 had that thing. I dant know what it is or where I got it but he said Algernon had it too. Algernons motor-vation is the cheese they put in his box. But it cant be that because I didn’t eat any cheese this week.

Then he told Dr Nemur something I dint understand so while they were talking I wrote down some of the words.

He said Dr. Nemur I know Charlie is not what you had in mind as the first of your new brede of intelek** (couldnt get the word) superman. But most people of his low ment** are host** and uncoop** they are usually dull apath** and hard to reach. He has a good natcher hes intristed and eager to please.

Dr Nemur said remember he will be the first human beeng ever to have his intelijence tripled by surgicle meens.

Dr. Strauss said exakly. Look at how well hes lerned to read and write for his low mentel age its as grate an acheve** as you and I lerning einstines therey of **vity without help. That shows the inteness motor-vation. Its comparat** a tremen** achev** I say we use Charlie.

I dint get all the words but it sounded like Dr Strauss was on my side and like the other one wasnt.

Then Dr Nemur nodded he said all right maybe your right. We will use Charlie. When he said that I got so exited I jumped up and shook his hand for being so good to me. I told him thank you doc you wont be sorry for giving me a second chance. And I mean it like I told him. After the operashun Im gonna try to be smart. Im gonna try awful hard.

Students worked in pairs to determine the main ideas of the first four paragraphs, then we worked individually for the final paragraphs.

Notes from first and fifth about determining the main idea from progress report 4
Notes from first and fifth about determining the main idea from progress report 4

Afterward, we went over all the work to make sure we’re all coming up with the same analysis.

Notes from first and fifth about determining the main idea from progress report 4
Notes from first and fifth about determining the main idea from progress report 4

Once that was done, we reexamined some of the inferences we’d made and came up with three sub-steps for the process of determining the main idea of a text.

Notes from first and fifth about determining the main idea
Notes from first and fifth about determining the main idea

Second and fourth periods worked on the EQ, “How does Shakespeare use irony in 3.1,” looking at all the ironic twists and turns that present themselves in this most famous scene, the deaths of Tybalt and Mercutio.

Notes from second and fourth periods
Notes from second and fourth periods

After going through the first part of the scene as a class (scaffolding as always!), we divided the first two-thirds of the scene into four mini-scenes which individual groups examined, looking for verbal, situational, and/or dramatic irony.

Notes from second and fourth periods
Notes from second and fourth periods

Hopefully it was clear at the end of the lesson: 3.1 is chock full of irony, with every single exchange containing multiple examples.

Homework
  • First and fifth periods: write a carefully-crafted, one-sentence explanation of the main idea of today’s text (see above for notes and actual text).
  • Second and fourth periods: plan and outline a Schaffer-model paragraph examining the use of irony in Romeo and Juliet 3.1.
Main Ideas and a Quiz

Second and fourth periods were to have a quiz today over act two of Romeo and Juliet. Due to a technical glitch, fourth period will have to take the quiz tomorrow.

First and fifth periods worked on determining the main idea of a text. We used a scaffolded approach, with me demonstrating first before turning the kids loose with their own on a passage from “Flowers for Algernon.” Notes of the process are below. You can click on them to view larger versions.

Homework
  • First period: none.
  • Second and fourth periods: read 3.1 from Romeo and Juliet.
  • Fifth period: complete the process of determining the main idea of a text for the final two paragraphs of the text begun in class.
Short Day

First period worked on determining the main idea of a text by summarizing paragraphs and generalizing from these details.

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Notes from first period

Second period began going over the homework from yesterday when all students were released.

Homework
  • First and fifth periods: none.
  • Second and fourth periods: study for R&J act two quiz on Monday

First, second, and sixth periods all worked inferring the main idea of a text as well as the meaning of unknown words. We’ll continue working on it tomorrow.

Fourth period continued with Great Expectations, looking at point of view and its effect on the narrative.

Homework
  • First period: read the article and write a one-sentence description of the main idea.
  • Second period: complete five more proverb main idea exercises.
  • Fourth period:
    • by Thursday, read through chapter 50;
    • prepare for possible quiz Thursday on chapters 40-50.
  • Sixth period:
    • find two more main ideas from “If-“;
    • complete five more proverb main idea exercises.

First and seventh periods are still working on literature circles. We’re about to finish the first group of chapters and activities. We’ll be focusing on determining a text’s main idea as we work.

Second period continued with Much Ado About Nothing. We began the second act today, though we didn’t quite finish it. We also went through a quick, unplanned review of perspectiving, using Billy Collins’ “Forgetfulness.”

Fourth period began act two from Romeo and Juliet.

Homework
  • First and seventh periods: depends on the groups’ decisions.
  • Second period: none.
  • Fourth period: practice the prologue for act two.