Monthly Archives: April 2013

English 9 Regents: Part III- Organizing Evidence-Based Claims

The next part of the Evidence-Based Claims unit is Organizing Evidence-Based Claims.  As I looked over this particular worksheet, I noticed a similarity to work that I have done previously when we worked on the research papers.  The Organizing Evidence-Based Claims worksheet allows for an expanded claim that includes two points, and then the two points are separated out so that evidence may be given in support of each point.  This is like the thesis statements we created during the research project.  Students had to make a claim (take a position) about a topic, and then back it up with two reasons (signposts) why the reader should agree with them.

What I have here is the progression of two students from Forming EBCs, to Making EBCs, and finally Organizing EBCs.   You can see the growth in the train of thought as they worked through paragraphs 7-12 of Plato’s “Apology.”

Jessica’s progress: Forming EBCs

Jessie 1

I questioned Jess’s use of the word “unique” in her claim.  What was it she was really trying to say about Socrates at that point?  I also asked for pronoun clarification.  Who is the “they” she is referring to?

Jessica: Making EBCs

Jessie 2

While the first claim may be an improvement over “Socrates is unique…,”  the evidence she offers does not support her new claim.  Neither evidence #1 or #3 really support how people can “benefit from his teachings.”  I asked Jess to go back into the text to come up with stronger evidence if she still wanted to make that claim.  The second claim was confusing because of the spelling error (“believes” instead of “beliefs”).  I thought this was stronger than either of the original claims, so I asked her to think more deeply about Claim 2.

 Jessica: Organizing EBCs

Jessie 3

By the time Jessica got to this page, she had re-thought her claim and was able to come up with an expanded version that had to clear points that she could defend.   Her textual evidence is also stronger than it had been in the Forming EBC stage.  She is now ready to write.

___________________________________________________________

Lauren’s Progression:  Forming EBCs

Lauren 1

Lauren’s claim is confusing because of the pronoun usage (“them” and “they”) and wordiness.   Her thinking and evidence are fine, but she needs to be more concise and precise in her claim.

Lauren: Making EBCs

Lauren 2

Lauren amended her claim in the first set, yet I encouraged her to use stronger diction than “killing him would not be a good idea.”   She obviously put a lot of thought into her second claim because you can see that she used WhiteOut to make changes.   This demonstrates that she is thinking and making adjustments as she is working.

Lauren: Organizing EBCs

Lauren 3

Lauren went a bit overboard and tried to incorporate everything from the Making EBC worksheet.  The result is a confusing, wordy claim.  I am asking her to trim down the wordiness and get to the heart of what it is that she wants to say.  I would still like her to rephrase “killing him would not be a good idea.”  Once she does that, then Lauren will be ready to write.

___________________________________________________________

Once they have completed the Organizing EBC worksheets and revised them a bit from my feedback, the students went head-to-head with their partners in a dry run of what they intend to write in a paragraph.  I asked them to work in pairs, giving impromptu “speeches” to their partners using their claims as the thesis, and the points as signposts.  They had to attempt to convince their partner to agree with their claim.

The partners, while they were listening, had to decide whether or not they were convinced to agree with the speaker and then back that up with reasons why (or why not).  They had to refer to the textual evidence given as support for the argument to determine its strength and clarity.  They also had to critique the speaker’s argument for its logic and progression.  Finally, the listener had to write down three clarifying questions for the speaker.  The homework for the speaker , then, was to write a response to the three questions while also revisiting his/her argument in preparation for an essay.

The partners then reversed roles so that everyone left the room with three questions to answer.  When they come in next class, they will be permitted to use the worksheets, their question responses, and their text to write an essay in support of their chosen claim.

Leave a comment

Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 3: Instruction, English 9 Regents

Reflections on Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

4a.  Reflecting on Teaching

As I look back on this 2012-2013 school year, I can see some things that really worked for me and for my students, and I will not be changing those.  For example:

~ Working in cooperative groups for various units.   This tends to work better at the enriched level as opposed to the regents because the enriched kids tend to be more focused and not quite as chatty about things non-related to the task at hand.   As we did close reading of materials, I found that some weaker students benefited from having a strong reader in the group to kind of lead them along.   Quite often I heard phrases like, “How’d you come up with that?” and “Show me where you got that cuz I ain’t seein’ it.”  

~ Using Visible Thinking Exercises.  This technique has been the single greatest tool I have gotten in the past several years through Professional Development.  I wish I had been introduced to it much earlier!   Using these exercises helps to focus writing, especially the See/Think/Wonder exercise for coming up with Concrete Details (CDs) and Commentary (CMs) for writing.  Students become more observant while examining paintings/photographs/music videos/film clips, and they begin to look for less obvious details as the year progresses.  This skill is transferred to close reading as we examine specific passages from text.   The regents students did it with articles about migrant farm workers, as well as articles relating to Roosevelt’s New Deal in the first quarter when we read Of Mice and Men.  During that time, the enriched students were working with Every Bone Tells a Story, and each group did close readings relating to a particular hominid.  When all classes were working with The Odyssey in some form in the second quarter, students examined passages of the poetry, or analyzed Homeric similes.   Both levels were also given speeches from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to analyze closely, and the enriched kids had to analyze and memorize a 20 line piece from one of Shakespeare’s other plays.  And we use the Visible Thinking technique with Frankenstein (9E) and Plato’s “Apology” (9R) in the fourth quarter.

~ Every Bone Tells a Story as a non-fiction work for English 9 Enriched.    I love how the book was divided into the four hominins, and then each section was divided into: Discoveries (Expository Writing), Deductions (Research), and Debates (Persuasive Writing).  Each group worked with each of the three types of writing as it pertained to their assigned hominid.   This worked very, very well at the beginning of the year as I was introducing the different types of writing that we would be doing during the rest of the year.   Since I plan to keep using this book, I hope that the district can find the funds to purchase copies for the students instead of me having to ask them to buy the books themselves.

~ Plato’s “Apology” and Evidence-Based Claims.  Ok, I have to admit that I dragged my heels on this one, but only by trying it out would I really have the right to complain (hence, following the PARCC framework for the first quarter?).  I was actually surprised at how much the worksheets reflected work that I was already doing with my students.  The Forming Evidence Based Claims worksheet is actually a version of See/Think/Wonder, while the Organizing Evidence Based Claims worksheet asks kids to create a thesis statement with two signposts (something I’d already taught them earlier in the year).   While I would not change teaching it, I WILL do this in the beginning of the year with students and use the worksheets consistently (I found they work well for literature as well because I used them with Frankenstein in the enriched classes).

Things that I will change:

~ no PARCC framework next year.  It’s too much work for a single teacher to keep up with. 

~ “Apology” will be moved to the beginning of the year, followed by short stories.  I began the year with Of Mice and Men, and I really didn’t like the flow.  However, I had been following the PARCC, so I jumped right into a full-length text.  It would have been a better transition to do the Evidence-Based Claims with Plato first, and then transfer that skill to a full-length research project instead of the other way around; however, in my defense, the Plato unit wasn’t available in September.

_________________________________________________________________

4b.  Maintaining accurate records

One tool that helps with maintaining accurate records of dates and times of when work was turned in is the online website that I have for each classroom.  From my own funds, I purchased five networking classroom websites from Spruz.com.  Each class is held privately, meaning that no one may join in or visit the website unless he/she is a member approved by me.  I maintain the highest privacy allowances on the site in an attempt to insure student internet safety, and no one may join the site using a made-up screen name.  This is so that I know exactly who is responsible for posting anything on the site.  When an assignment is completed online, it is dated and time-stamped, so I know exactly when it was done.  There is no argument about late assignments with this tool. 

I also make use of the Infinite Campus grade book online.  Parents may see grades on the portal and keep track of their child’s progress.  I have both positive and negative reactions to this.  On the positive side, parents can see what a child is missing and encourage him/her to turn the work in, or if the child does poorly on a quiz, the parent can intervene with the child.  On the flip side, some parents check the portal constantly and question grading practices for every little point in an attempt to raise their child’s grades. 

_______________________________________________________________

4c.  Communicating with families

All information about the course is sent to the parents over the summer so that they are informed about what their child can expect.  I send expectations, supplies lists, and a list of reading materials for the upcoming school year.

Most frequently, I communicate with families via email.  This gives me an electronic record of the communication, and I always include Mr. McBride (as English Department Supervisor) and the student’s house office administrator in the conversation.   I send emails for significantly late work, failing averages at the halfway point in a quarter, or missing work, and I make suggestions for how a student may improve his/her grade.  I also send emails when a struggling student has improved as a motivation for continued improvement.  If a parent does not respond to my email I follow with a phone call and log the call on Infinite Campus. 

_______________________________________________________________________

4d.  Participating in a professional community

I serve as a member of the Webster School District Policy Board where we work to design and bring about meaningful professional development opportunities for our teachers.  Our biggest push this year has been for putting together Creative Collaborations where teachers can work together on a common goal.

I participate in a PLC with another 9th grade English teacher, but I also discuss curriculum and other school business with other teachers as well.

For the past three years, I have served the school as the head yearbook advisor, maintaining accurate financial records and helping students and my co-advisor create a quality product.  I have also served as a ski club chaperone for the past eight years, and I was a class advisor for three years from 2007-2010.   Our committee planned the 2008 Junior Prom and the 2009 Senior Ball.

This will be the fifth year that my students will have published an anthology of short stories that follow the Hero’s Journey pattern outlined by mythologist Joseph Campbell.  Each year, the short story project dovetails one of the units that we have worked with.  In the 2008-2009 school year, we read real-life stories of heroes.  Because of the popularity of the television show Heroes at the time, we patterned our story after the television show by giving ordinary people super-powers and creating our own superhero tales in In The Footsteps…  In 2009-2010, we read Douglas Adams’ The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul in which humans created immortal characters/gods in their cultures and then later forgot about them.  Because the characters were immortal and could not die, they became the forgotten and lonely street-people.  Our task was to “rescue” an immortal by taking the time to learn and tell the story of a student-created immortal who was on the brink of being forgotten forever in We Remember…  During the 2010-2011 school year, we read The Hobbit, and so students created quest tales that included a long journey.  The culmination of that project was Forged Through Trials.  Last year’s project was also inspired by a television series and went with our Cultural Mythology unit.  In the spirit of Once Upon a Time, students selected a myth or fairy tale and modernized it.  The end result was Altered Reflections.  Each book was published online and is currently available worldwide.  This was the project followed by the Joseph Campbell Foundation that led to my participation in the international Symposium on Mythology.  This year’s project surrounds a non-fiction work, Every Bone Tells a Story.    Students selected one of the four anthropological discoveries from the text, and they researched the region/culture in which the person may have lived.  From there, they are putting flesh on the bones and creating stories for the hominins.  Lapedo Child and Turkana Boy might have rite of passage tales or a coming of age story.  Kennewick Man might have a long-journey story, while Ice Man just might be a murder mystery.  All might include Land of the Dead tales.  The possibilities are many, so students have the opportunity to be creative all the while honing their research skills as the settings must reflect the region and ancient culture.   The students then vote on the top stories to be included in the anthology.   At the end of the project, I present the students’ published work at the 9th grade awards ceremony, and we have a book signing celebration in the school library, complete with a cake bearing the book’s cover.

____________________________________________________________________

4e.  Growing and developing professionally

I am a member of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, which correlates with my work in teaching cultural mythology and The Hero’s Journey to my students.  In 2012, I was selected to present at an international Symposium on Mythology in Santa Barbara, California about the work I have done with my enriched students over the years, particularly the long-term short story project that we do annually, which culminates in the publication of an anthology.  As a result of my presentation, the Joseph Campbell Foundation has asked me to serve as one of the lead teachers on a committee that will create an international curriculum on mythology to be funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

I have taken advantage of the Webster Central School District’s professional development offering on Visible Thinking activities in the classroom.  This practice has really added depth to my classroom discussions and to student sharing/writing.  There are examples of Visible Thinking exercises posted for your perusal. 

______________________________________________________________

4f.  Demonstrating professionalism

I work hard to maintain my integrity in my chosen profession.  I take my charge to educate students very seriously, and I am consistent in my dealings with students.  While I may be strict, I believe that I am extremely fair and that I do whatever is necessary to see students succeed. 

I offer credit recovery options for students who are missing work.  Because I believe that all assignments are important and should be completed, I have given students “incomplete” grades on report cards until all work has been done. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities, Reflections on the Danielson Framework

Reflections on Domain 2: Classroom Environment

2a. Creating an environment of respect and rapport

On the first day of class, I give students a course expectations sheet.  On it, I outline classroom procedures, materials/supplies needed, class rules, grading and assessment practices, and a list of units of study for the year.  I also include contact information for parents and students alike. 

One thing that I absolutely insist upon in my classroom is that we all respect one another.  I do not allow teasing or bullying of any kind, and I when I hear kids “joking” with one another in what may be considered a disrespectful way, I make students apologize to one another.  As part of classroom respect, I insist that gentlemen do not wear hats indoors, undergarments are UNDER clothing, electronics are where I cannot see them, and food is left in the cafeteria. 

____________________________________________________________________

2b. Establishing a culture for learning

Once students know what to expect, I have very few discipline problems.  I keep students on task by asking questions pertaining to the reading/task at hand whenever they seem to be veering on to another path. 

I display their work around the room, particularly their creative work.   I have posted pictures of the posters they have created (and may refer back to as needed when they are hanging up), as well as the “Who’s Who” masks/posters in The Odyssey.   I also display the Visible Thinking exercises for the unit so that we may refer back to things they may have seen or thought about earlier in the unit.

I have a specific shelf for each class’ journals, as well as reference materials around the room for them to use (dictionaries, thesauri, etc).   When a student asks me what something means, they have come to know that my response to them will be, “Get thee to a dictionary.”  

____________________________________________________________________

2c. Managing classroom procedures

Kids know that we have set routines for group work, their packets are set up in a similar fashion, their vocabualry quizzes follow a specific format, as do their reading quizzes.  I create this routine so that they become comfortable in knowing what is coming.  When they see their journals on their desks, they know that we are doing a Visible Thinking exercise.  When they trade papers for peer grading, they know automatically that they have to have a red pen and put their name in the lower right-hand corner.  They also know that they are expected to have the MLA heading on every piece of work that comes in for a grade, and that the heading is checked by peers during written/vocab quizzes. 

__________________________________________________________________

2d. Managing student behavior

If students know what to expect, then there are very few surprises.  The fewer surprises, the more comfortable they seem with a routine, and classes run smoothly.

I expect that students will refer to me as Ms Woodward, and not simply as “Woodward.”  I also expect that they will respect my boundaries and work space just as I respect theirs.  That means that students may not simply walk up to my desk and help themselves to anything they find (such as a writing utensil or a stapler).   I remind them that I would never come up to their desk to help myself, so they may not do so with my desk.  Students seem to understand and respect this guideline.

___________________________________________________________________

2e. Organizing physical space

I change the configuration of my room quite frequently.  While I begin the year in rows (better for me to learn their names from a seating chart), I do form various sized groups for each unit, depending up on how many groups I need.  For Every Bone Tells a Story, I needed four groups, one for each hominid.   When I moved on to The Odyssey, I used eight groups because of the wide array of cultural mythology we were using.   In the third quarter, we were in six groups for Romeo and Juliet; three pairs of feuding families.   In the 4th quarter, we have paired rows where students “go head to head” with a partner.  I mixed students up during the year so that they had the opportunity to work with as many people in the class as possible.

Leave a comment

Filed under Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Reflections on the Danielson Framework

Reflections on Domain 1: Planning and Preparation

1a. Demonstrating knowledge of content and pedagogy

I have taken several workshops in Visible Thinking, and I use it consistently in my classroom.  I have found that the SEE/THINK/WONDER exercise is a wonderful lead-in to the Jane Schaeffer style of writing embraced by the Webster Central School District.

I have an in-depth knowledge of mythology and the Hero’s Journey process through my association with the Joseph Campbell Foundation and as past leader of the Mythological RoundTable (R) Group of Rochester.  I use this knowledge to create lessons that create a greater understanding of Cultural Mythology and The Odyssey

Student work with the Hero’s Journey culminates in the publication of an annual anthology of short stories.  My experience with on-line publishing through the publication of my own books aids me in this part of my work with students.  As such, I have working knowledge of what makes good writing.

As a stage performer who was trained in Theatre during a summer session at Thames Valley University in London, England under the tutelage of Rodney West from the Royal Shakespeare Company, I have much to bring to my students’ understanding of theatre and plays, particularly the works of William Shakespeare.  I also perform with various community theatre companies in the Rochester area.

During the summer of 2012, I did a lot of work studying the PARCC framework in anticipation of it being adopted by New York State.  I also wanted to see how well the framework would fit our schedule, our curriculum, and our classes.  I did the entire first quarter step-by-step according to the PARCC framework, and found it to be something that individual students MIGHT be able to be successful at (if they were already proficient writers), but certainly NOT realistic from a feedback/grading perspective.  In one quarter, I read and graded (not to my usual scale) over TWO THOUSAND pieces of writing because I followed the PARCC framework to the letter.  I was exhausted, and the feedback was NOT what I have been able to provide in the past.  Imagine how thankful I was to learn that New York decided NOT to go with the PARCC framework for its schools!!  I dropped it in the 2nd quarter.

___________________________________________________________

1b. Demonstrating knowledge of students

Early in the year, the English Department gave a pre-assessment so as to determine the strengths and weaknesses of our particular group of students.  Through the results, I knew what I needed to focus on at least in the realm of persuasive writing, with my classes.

As a teacher of the enriched program, students are expected to come in with strong writing skills, so I create lessons that involve higher level thinking and reasoning skills, and I challenge their use of effective sentence structure and diction.  I am also familiar with what is popular in teenage literature, and since these are most likely my readers of current young adult fiction, I work to connect the curriculum literature they will be assigned to that which they read by choice.

__________________________________________________________________

1c. Setting instructional outcomes

I use District-approved rubrics for grading writing assignments, particularly those that model state assessments.  I allow students to see the rubrics in advance so that they are aware of the expectations.   For some long-term projects, I show them models of former students’ work (many allow me to keep their projects afterwards) so that they can get an idea of what I am looking for in their work. 

Although I teach similar literature to both levels (English 9 enriched and 9 Regents), I adapt lessons for each level.  There are things I may have to work more on with the Regents kids (like doing more close readings of certain speeches in Romeo and Juliet) than are necessary with the Enriched students.   I also teach an abridged poetry version of The Odyssey to the Regents students, while my Enriched students read a full-length prose version.   I choose the poetry version for the Regents kids to help prepare them for when we read Shakespeare (which is primarily in poetry).

__________________________________________________________

1d. Demonstrating knowledge of resources

For each class, I purchase (out of my own pocket) five separate Spruz websites for online class assignments.  I maintain and weekly update these websites while also monitoring student performance on the online assessments.

When publishing the student short story anthology, I am savvy with using Lulu.  I work with students on creating the cover for the book, and then I do the uploading and final editing for publication.  I also post websites of various writing contests so that students may submit their work for possible publication and honors.

On the classroom sites, I place links to helpful online sources for all units.

__________________________________________________________________

1e. Designing coherent instruction

I create study guides for my students that not only provide background material about the author and topics/ideas we shall be exploring in a particular piece, but I give them vocabulary lists, reading questions, Reader Response questions, and literary analysis questions.   Because I have seen how Visible Thinking exercises have benefited my students’ writing in the past, I work to create thoughtful Visible Thinking exercises to accompany the units of study.  I know that students need to be prepared for the state tests,  so I design lessons and assessments that mirror what they might see in the future.

My curriculum advisor, Jeremy McBride, has copies of all my unit plans on file.

________________________________________________________________

1f. Designing student assessments

All assessments are designed to test skills that students will need to be successful in all areas of English Language Arts, but particularly those that will be presented on state (and soon, federal) standardized tests.  I particularly focus on the areas of:

1.  persuasive writing

2.  literary analysis

3.  close reading of both fiction and non-fiction

4.  research

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Reflections on the Danielson Framework

English 9 Enriched: Parody- Young Frankenstein

How could I ignore Mel Brooks’ classic parody?

Similar to what we did with the creation scenes from the 1931 Universal film and the 1994 Kenneth Branagh version, we watched two video clips, did a SEE/THINK/WONDER for each one, discussed comparisons/contrasts, and then had a short writing assignment.

These are the two clips from Young Frankenstein (1974).

The first depicts Gene Wilder (as Victor Frankenstein) and Peter Boyle (as the Creature) doing a tap dance to “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”  What I want the students to see is the parody of how people become afraid of the creature and also how the creature comes to loathe people who treat him badly.

The second clip is when the Creature (Peter Boyle) comes upon the house of a blind priest (Gene Hackman), and the priest unsuccessfully tries to offer his guest some hospitality.   I want students to make the connection to the blind man in the hovel where the creature has been spying on and learning from the family that lives there.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Domain 3: Instruction, English 9 Enriched, Visible Thinking

English 9 Enriched: Visible Thinking- Frankenstein’s Creation

Students will be evaluating film techniques as well as comparing and contrasting film to text.  for the Visible Thinking part of the exercise, we will watch two different film interpretations of the creation scene in Frankenstein.    They will be looking for a total of ten things they notice (See) in each clip; however, they have to find two in each of the following categories: Characterization, Lighting, Set Design, Sound/Music, Costumes/Make-Up.

The first is from the Universal Films 1931 production starring Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein (notice the name change) and Boris Karloff as the creature (on a side note, Boris Karloff’s– whose real name was William Henry  Pratt– great grand-nephew lives here in Rochester).

NOTE: the YouTube link is to one person’s channel, and the videos all play when going to this link.  The one I used in class is the four minute piece at clip 3.  I am saving Gene Wilder for when we do parody!

The second is from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as Victor Frankenstein, with Robert De Niro as the Creature.

After watching both clips, students shared what they saw in each of the five categories with a partner.  They then went on to write three things they THINK about how the clips reflect events in the novel, followed by three things they WONDER about how the clips reflect the events in the novel.  They must keep in mind as they write what they think and wonder that they are going to be asked to write a comparison/contrast piece for the film clips and the novel.

Students were then given two different colored Post-Its for SEE/THINK/WONDER; one color that related to the Universal film, and another for the Branagh version.   We then shared aloud and posted them in the front of the room on a large poster paper.  Once all students had the opportunity to share, we discussed the major similarities and differences between Hollywood and Shelley’s work.  They then went on to work on their writing pieces.

Alive

Leave a comment

Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Domain 3: Instruction, English 9 Enriched, Visible Thinking

English 9 Enriched: Defending Evidence Based Claims and Elevating Diction

My enriched kids are taking the Evidence Based Claims worksheets further than what we are currently doing in 9 Regents.  In this exercise, I put the following on the overhead:

Forming Evidence Based Claims for Frankenstein, Chapters 1-3

Each pair of rows will have one of the three chapters.  For each chapter, there will be students forming Evidence Based Claims about TWO of the following aspects of the narrative (one from column 1 and one from column 2):

Column 1: Characters                          Column 2:  other aspects

Victor’s character (Ch 1-3)                                 The setting in Geneva  (Ch 2)

Victor’s mother’s character (Ch 1-2)              Victor’s family life (Ch 1-2)

Victor’s father’s character  (Ch 1-2)               Victor’s early education (Ch 1-2)

Elizabeth’s character (Ch 2-3)                          Victor’s parents’ visit to the Lake of Como (Ch 1)

Henry Clerval’s character (Ch 2-3)                The effect of the lightning storm on Victor (Ch 2)

Mr. Krempe’s character (Ch 3)                         Victor’s mother’s death (Ch 3)

Mr. Waldman’s character (Ch 3)                      Victor’s ambitions  (Ch 1-3)

Victor’s university education (Ch3)                                                                                                                                                                           The university at Ingolstadt  (Ch 3)

 

First, I assigned a chapter to each pair of rows.  I gave each pair of students two Forming Evidence Based Claims worksheets, and then I drew class cards so that each student could choose a topic that related to their assigned chapter.  One partner chose from Column 1 for a character in their assigned chapter, and the other chose from Column 2 for some other aspect relating to their chapter.

Once the pairs had their two topics, I set them to work finding textual evidence for the top boxes of their Forming EBC worksheets first.  I told them that claims about characters would involve character traits, and the other claims would be about the significance of the aspect to the novel (either so far or as an element of foreshadowing).  They were to remember the overall setting of the novel: Victor is, throughout the entire book, telling his tale to Robert Walton aboard his ship that is stuck in the ice.  All these are details that Victor has chosen to relate to the captain; WHY are they significant enough for him to mention?

One stipulation, though, was that all claims had to be made using elevated vocabulary.  Since the book we are using contains a huge glossary in the back, and the packet I gave them also includes a vast glossary, they must find stronger, more precise words than “loving”, “caring” (a personal abhorrence), and “nice” (a word the belongs on the Dead List of character traits).  This is a skill we are still working on improving, and I am trying to get them to become more precise in their diction.

Student examples:

Matina Fr 1-3 Victor's Character

Matina attempted to use “vehement” to characterize Victor Frankenstein in Chapter 2.  The class talked about the word choice and thought about whether or not that was a word that really fit Victor’s personality.  We examined her choice of details as well as the claim she was making, and she finally came to choose the word “obsessive” in relation to this work.  I agreed with her choice because that word carried the negative connotation that would go along with the violent outbursts she describes.

__________________________________________________________

James Fr 1-3 Victor's ambition

In order to make a claim about Victor’s ambitions in chapter 2, James used a character trait (“his curiosity”) to formulate his point.  He embedded a quotation from the text as support right in his claim, and his final statement sums up his position well.  What was missing, though, was use of elevated vocabulary.  While I do see that he was getting right to the point of his claim, I would like to have James practice using higher diction that reflects Shelley’s word choices.

________________________________________________________

Leave a comment

Filed under Domain 3: Instruction, English 9 Enriched