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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Flowers for Algernon - Part I

This is my third year teaching eighth grade (after eight years teaching every possible reading/writing variation of seventh grade we have had). When I left seventh grade, I was teaching writing, and eighth grade is predominantly focused upon reading. One of the biggest issues I have had has been pacing. After two years of trying to manage every listed reading assignment in our curriculum, I threw it all out the window and decided to simply teach - and it is paying off. Unfortunately, there are still requirements. 

One of the eighth grade required readings for eighth graders is the short story "Flowers for Algernon." When I say requirement, I mean requirement. Oops. Missed this for the first two years! Year three, I got this...I think. So here goes. 

Progress report for March 5

  • Although my students should pick up on the indirect characterization right away, I am going to start with direct characterization. This will be a short and sweet review to introduce us to Charlie. 
  • We will be working on computer annotation skills (Google Drive), starting with some basic underlining/highlighting skills. I am trying to get them away from highlighting everything on the paper. I have been teaching annotation all year, but that has not cut down on the highlighter abuse. 
  • Since we will be using Google Drive, we will also work on adding comments to take notes. I have created a sentence stem (slide 3) to guide their reflection of the direct characterization. 
  • I am also going to have the kids rewrite the first entry in proper English. Well, as proper as they can make it, I suppose. I haven't quite figured out how to grade this. It might simply be a participation grade for them, but I want them to get some editing practice. 
  • For the second entry, we are switching gears to indirect characterization. I want my students to start putting together what we are learning about Charlie through his writing. 
  • Since we have been working on Notice & Note signposts throughout the year, I am going to review Again & Again. With our Again & Again lenses (I am combining the N&N signpost with a text evidence strategy from Falling in Love with Close Reading), we will be looking for patterns in Charlie's thinking that help us understand his traits. 
  • Click for larger copy
  • The hard part here is getting them to focus on the text evidence. For example, what does the "rabits foot in my pockit because when I was a kid I always faled tests in school" tell us about  Charlie? (It was really hard to type all of that incorrectly.) Using a modified version of the frame provided in FILWCR, I am going to have the kids write a character traits statement about Charlie.

This is as far as I have gotten so far. Now I have to figure out where to chunk the rest of the text so it doesn't take me until the end of May to teach the entire story.