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.

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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.

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Filed under Domain 3: Instruction, English 9 Enriched

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