I will begin class with the prompt, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
and the instructions, "Write possible answers to this question. To answer the question, you may draw from your personal experience, other things you have read, conversations you have had, etc. "
I ask students to write to this prompt because this half of the unit deals with death, torture, genocide, and the Holocaust. These topics are tough to teach, but I want students to know that while they are uncomfortable topics, it is necessary to evaluate why they happened and literature can be our way to learn about history.
I will ask students to write for 5 minutes, which is about half a page (W.9-10.10).
I will begin class with a very short mini lesson. I will ask students to create a KWL chart on their paper and I will create one on the board. In the K column, students will record what they know about Judaism and The Holocaust. After a brief table conversation, students will write questions in the W column, discussing what they want to know. I'll explain that while we are watching the Oprah and Elie Wiesel interview, we will be answering questions that we discover the answer to and posing new questions we discover as we watch. We will add our new questions or insights to the L column indicating what we learned. I will show the first 5 minutes of the Oprah interview and will add insights and questions to my KWL chart on the board. I want to write while the video is playing because we have worked hard on annotating our thoughts and I want students to apply that annotation technique to a visual text.
Students will watch the next 15 minutes of the interview and will complete their KWL chart. This is a short research project where students pose a question and are examining visual rhetoric for the answer. The Standards are sprinkled with mention of visual text so it's important that I give my students lots of opportunities to practice that skill.
The CC Standards tell us students need to analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (RI 9-10.7). Reading Wiesel's account of The Holocaust and watching the interview will allow students to compare the information while building their knowledge of our themes.
After the interview, I will ask students to look at their charts and identify three questions they still have. Students will group themselves by fours and roundtable those questions. Students will work on propelling conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate to the four themes we are identifying in various texts (SL 9-10.1c). Roundtable discussion explanation video explains this process.
With a few minutes of class left, I will ask students to identify one question they still have about Elie Wiesel, The Holocaust or Auschwitz. Students will post their question on a post it and place it on the board. I love asking students to write questions to end class. I always ask that they not be yes/no questions, but rather questions that will help deepen their thinking or the thinking of a peer.
Asking students to reflect on their learning by posing a question they still have is an excellent way to gather formative data, connect to former learning and take ownership in their learning. I often use questioning as a way to bring closure to class.
I have a question board in class. I chose one great question and post it on that board with the student's name. Students are then given an opportunity throughout the week to add a thoughtful response to the question. Students add their name to the response post-it, which gives them ownership in the classroom. I take moments throughout the week to read some of the responses and praise students for adding to that board. It has been great for building a positive classroom culture.
Today's questions were great. Jordyn's question is the one I will add to the question board. I'm choosing this one because it connects to one of the themes we have been focusing on for the last couple of weeks. She asks why the world was quiet and I can use that question to connect to students prior knowledge about the theme of silence in current world events.
Brian's post-it is a great indication of students connecting English Curriculum to History Curriculum and Current Events. I will keep Brian's post-it and use it as a warm up question for next week.