Jessica Keigan Horizon High , Thornton, CO
10th Grade ELA : Unit #9 - Literary: Analysis of Narrative Style in A Tale of Two Cities : Lesson #4

Style Study: Tale of Two Cities Book 3 Chapters 1-2 Quote Anlaysis

Objective: SWBAT apply knowledge of how language functions to comprehend their reading by analyzing specific quotes for syntax and figurative language.
Standards: L.9-10.3 L.9-10.5 L.9-10.5a L.9-10.6
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 SSR - 10 minutes

We will return to our SSR reading structure today with our typical ten minutes of reading time at the beginning of class.

We broke this structure briefly a the beginning of the semester to re-acclimate the students to other procedures and to review content from first semester. I also hope that this break allowed students to get a book if they needed to, though I imagine that most of them will continue reading A Tale of Two Cities during this time, at least until we are finished with the novel in a little over a week.

2 Style Anlaysis Activity Overview/Instructions - 10 minutes

After spending a few days reviewing and getting ready to dive back into academic reading, we will continue study of the novel, shifting our focus to Dickens' style. In books one and two we focused on character development and plot structure, which will not disappear from our study of book three, but will take a back burner to looking at how Dickens uses techniques such as parallel sentence structure or metaphoric language to convey his message/meaning.

To do this, I am going to provide some scaffolding with these early chapters that will hopefully help students build the academic vocabulary necessary to have a deep conversation about stylistic choices (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6). This is a tough strand of standards for me and I am going to work really hard to make sure this is not a dreary and boring process for me or my students.

As such, rather than lecturing on terms and devices, which they have likely heard about before, I am going to have them do close analysis of quotes from chapters one or two of book three. I will provide each Faulkner square with a quote and literary device that apply to the quote. I will have them use copies (totally outdated in many regards, but useful for this =) of Writers INC: A Student Handbook for Writing and Learning to help them with definitions and ask them to analyze how each term applies to their quote and what impact the use of each device has. If you don't have style manuals like these, there are a number of great resources online for figurative language and syntax reference. 

All of the groups will have syntax as one of their terms. I want my students to begin to identify different kinds of sentences and different purposes for these sentence types. 

In addition, each group will be assigned a specific example of figurative language, which I will ask them to define and analyze. I want my students to be able to both demonstrate understanding of figurative language (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5) and to interpret how these devices are used (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5a)

Generally speaking, the purpose for this activity as a whole is to start building a stronger understanding of how language functions (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3), but I am also going to ask them to use some of these techniques so that I can assess them later in the unit on their ability to write using these same techniques.

3 Style Anlaysis Poster Creation - 20 minutes

We are on a short schedule today because we had to give a health survey to our students for the county, so I don't actually know if we'll have time to make the posters today. In an ideal world, the students would be able to complete all of the steps below with their Faulkner Squares in the time allotted:

  1. Read and analyze the quote given to their group using their books to find context and their groups to decide meaning. 
  2. Define the terms assigned to each quote using the Writers INC books. I will remind them in this step to make sure the definitions are in their own words.
  3. Determine what kind of syntax/sentences Dickens is using in this passage and add to their term definitions these specific examples of syntax.
  4. Create a poster that includes their quote, their definitions and brief statements/annotations that indicate how all of these things connect. 

Next week, I will have the students use these posters to begin building a toolbox of writing tools that they can use in their own narrative writing (the final assessment for this unit).

Gauging Student Success

So, this activity ended up being really hard for them. We did not get to the poster creation part of today purely because they had such a hard time with the syntax/sentence type analysis of the activity. I had to remind them to use their novels for contextualization help and had really great conversations with students about what a definition in their own words might look like (i.e. defining clauses so that others would be able to understand what they meant by an independent clause).

I have to admit that at first their struggles were pretty discouraging, but after reflecting with my teaching partner after class, I realized that struggle just needs I need to spend more time with a concept and think about ways I could reteach the concept so that it becomes less of a struggle. For this particular activity, I am going to ask them to make their posters on Monday and extend the activity by asking them to find a quote from chapters three and four that is similar in style to the quote I provided for their analysis today.

Additionally, I am going to have them practice writing different kinds of sentence and talk about the impact different styles of sentence have on meaning or message.

Hopefully, after a few more weeks and a few more practice sessions with this, they will be better prepared to put this particular part of language into their toolbox to be used on a variety of writing assignments moving forward.

4 Wrap up and Next Steps - 5 minutes

This section probably won't happen, but if we have a chance to debrief, I will use it to check on comprehension of the chapters as a whole and to remind them to read on over the weekend.