Christopher Arnett GENEVA COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL, GENEVA, IL
10th Grade English : Unit #10 - Literacy: The Reality of It All--Realism in the American Story : Lesson #1

Putting Together the Puzzle of History: Jigsaw Reading and Reporting

Objective: SWBAT clearly present strong and thorough textual evidence in order to demonstrate an understanding of an informational text's main idea about historical context of The Civil War and The Gilded Age.
Standards: RL.9-10.5 RI.9-10.1 W.9-10.1b SL.9-10.1 SL.9-10.4
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Introduction & Welcome: It's a Musical Birthday - 13 minutes

Through Musical Birthday Intro, I welcome students to class by mentioning it's the birthday of Justin Timberlake and Marcus Mumford (of Mumford and Sons), two musicians who have certainly had an impact on what is popular right now. For the Friday Favorite vote, however, we return to yesterday's "National Croissant Day," and I poll the students on their favorite breakfast pastry: Croissant, Donut, Pop Tart, etc. After a show of hands, students are given an opportunity to defend/justify their choices. 

As with the Daily Holidays, Friday Favorite votes serve to build a sense of community and trust within the classroom, encouraging students to share their thoughts and participate in a wide range of discussions, build on others' ideas, express their own ideas clearly (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1). In addition, the practice developing and supply evidence for their claims--even in an informal situation--should translate to students' writing as we develop more critical and evaluative pieces this semester (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1b).  


Results and Conversations
Intrinsic Motivation

As noted when explained my rationale, above, Friday Favorite votes are intended to translate to student model and practice supporting and justifying their ideas, effectively encouraging students to go with intrinsic values, and motivation, for sharing in class. Today, the students who volunteered provided a wide sampling of reasons: donuts have variety, bagels can be added to with cream cheese, etc. It appears students are thinking beyond "because I agree," or "because I like it," which is where there supporting ideas were at the start of the school year. 

Incidentally, donuts were the big winner for the poll. 

2 Jigsaw Reading & Reporting: A Continuation - 35 minutes

Students have read a selection on the historical background of the Civil War and the Gilded Age. Because these literary movements are closely coupled to the cultural currents in America at the time of their popularity, students need an understanding of the historical background and context. As students in our school do not study American History until Grade 11/Junior year, I provide a "glimpse" into this background via a jigsaw reading. 

The University of Houston's Digital History program provides good selections to draw from for this jigsaw: The Civil War, Reconstruction, and The Gilded Age, and the literature of these time periods. (The University of Houston's "Digital History" project provides strong readings on this period for students to use in this Jigsaw).

Today, students continue the presentation planning and posters they began. The assignment is: 

1. With a group, read the assigned selection.

2. On a sheet of newsprint poster paper:

A. Give the title of the section

B. Three to five details/important facts

C. Draw an image that sums up the main idea of the section.

3. Present your image and main ideas to the class (Example of information on The Gilded Age ).

4. Take notes on each section during the presentations. 

The three to five details/important facts provide strong and thorough textual evidence for students to come to a conclusion on the the main idea (presented as an illustration) (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1).  By working collaboratively, students draw from each other in order to present their information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow and take notes on this information (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4). The next six short stories we read, as we examine Realism, Regionalism, and Naturalism, all occur against the backdrop of these time periods. By addressing informational/non-fiction texts about the history of The Civil War and The Gilded Age, students gain a deeper understanding of what was going on in the world, and how those events shape and affect the literature of the period.

Tomorrow we will begin a look at Realism, through a look at the figurative language to describe a Civil War battle. Specifically, we will focus on similes used by Stephen Crane in "The Red Badge of Courage". As a literary movement, Realism was directly shaped by the writing of authors and journalists reacting to the events of the Civil War, reporting on the horrors of the war in a clear, accurate style, and moving away from the idealized poetry and prose of the Romantic period (this idea is presented in the students' textbook)

 

Missing Details and Clarity of Presentation
High Expectations

My students know that I have high expectations of them, and usually rise to the occasion, mostly. But, I am certainly willing to assist with explaining when they get confused. In one group, presenting on notable writing of the Civil War, students drew an idea from the reading on the Civil War period, "African Americans were the most powerful", but the students did not provide necessary context. We stopped for a few minutes in order to ensure the missing information could be looked up, and it was a member of the group that located and presented the missing detail regarding African American power, "Slave narratives by African Americans were the most powerful writings of the Civil War period." See: IMG_3006I could have interjected and offered the correct information, but I was able to model inquiry and asking for clarification, as well as encouraging the students to seek the answers themselves.

3 Two-Minute Warning: Wrap-Up and Homework - 2 minutes

With two minutes remaining, I call the groups back to their regular seats, and remind them of the homework posted on the board: a reading on American Literary Realism from the textbook (these two readings provide much of the same information: from Washington State University and The University of West Georgia) and a selection from Chapter V of Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage" (pp. 30-31  in the linked text). Tomorrow, we will establish the traits of Realism and how "The Red Badge of Courage" establishes these. For our purposes, the traits of Realism are:

  1. Complex Characters (Dynamic/Round, not one-dimensional or solely archetypal.)
  2. Setting that is "here and now" to the place and time it is written in. 
  3. Dialogue that reflects how people of the setting speak. 
  4. Narration that tends to be "detached", reporting on the action.
  5. Addresses social themes, calls for change.