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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Flowers for Algernon: Part 2 - Characterizing with acrostics

We started "Flowers for Algernon" last Friday. We went through the first two progress reports slowly, discussing direct and indirect characterization. It wasn't a tough lesson, and the kids grasped the ideas quickly. I did note that we still need more work with supporting our ideas with text evidence, but that will be addressed shortly through dialectical journaling. 

I am a very hands-on reading teacher, and I am nowhere near being ready to turn my students loose with this story. BUT, I have the awesome pleasure of getting to hear Jeff Anderson speak tomorrow afternoon, and an honor like that takes precedent over the lesson. So I have put together the kind of lesson of which I am not a fan, reminding myself that one day of lower-than-standard lessons is not going to hurt anyone in the long run. 

My students are going to read the next three entries on their own. I struggle with independent reading in the classroom. Student reading levels range from third grade to collegiate, and we usually do guided reading to manage pacing. They all need to know how to read on their own, however, and they need to build their reading stamina. Maybe this is not such a bad idea after all. 

Once they finish reading, I am going to have them write a characterization acrostic using Charlie's name. Their assignment is to come up with phrases that describe what we have learned about Charlie through either direct or indirect characterization prior to the surgery. And here again, they may end up surprising me. I am going to keep my fingers crossed. 

Next up...irony. Now would be the perfect time for some other guest speakers. 


  1. How long are your class periods? Also, with your higher-level students, how do you stop them from reading ahead?

    I've done this story for years using different approaches each time, but my honors students feel the need to try to plow through.

    Do you read aloud to them? How do they handle it?

  2. I think my classes are 47 minutes. I don't really pay attention. I never plan to fit anything into a period if I can help it. I just make lessons and go with the flow.

    My students do not have a textbook to be able to read ahead. If they really wanted to and looked it up online, I have no issues with them reading ahead. If a kid is that interested in a story, I say go for it.

    I do not read aloud- unless it is really short. I get breathless when I read out loud. I usually play the audio. I do have audio for this story, and it definitely helps the kids understand the character from the very beginning.

  3. Now I am more in awe of you! How do you manage to do it all? I struggle with just the reading and writing in 50 minute sessions. Attempting to review grammar is often a nightmare.

    I love the idea of the audio. I might try that this time around. Do you copy each section/entry/chapter when you do a group read?

    I am always looking for new approaches, and you have some good ideas that I can manipulate for my class! Thanks :)

  4. All of my grammar work is tied into what we do. I got to hear Jeff Anderson speak this afternoon. If you haven't heard of him, look up his books. He makes it really easy to incorporate grammar into reading. I have used his books for years.

    I only make copies if we are working on something relatively short. And I will teach one story/poem to death before moving on to something new. Since FFA is longer, we are using the textbook. First time I have had it out all year.