Hey, Texasmama, can you give us a "sneak peek" of how a typical class will look? That would be another great help for people to see ways of prompting discussion and analysis!
This would probably be more helpful if I had it planned out more thoroughly.
Keep in mind I have not actually ever done this.
However, because I am a liberal arts, loosy-goosy kind of gal, it will not ever be all planned out. That is the purpose of a discussion type class, right?
I will have about 10 students, ranging from a precocious 4th grader to a couple of introverted 7th graders, one of whom is mine. My 5th grader will also be in this class. I am teaching it primarily for him. I will get a large, flip chart thingie to write on and will bring it to every class. The kids will be in a semi circle around the flip chart. They will bring their 3 ring binders with dividers: "literary terms", "vocabulary", and "books". ("Books" is for their own thoughts/notes as they read during the week.) I will be teaching two literary terms per week using Figuratively Speaking and will give them a definition at the beginning of class which they will write in their notebooks under "literary terms". I will also pass out a list of vocabulary words broken down by chapter of each book prior to the start of each book because I don't want unfamiliar words to hold them back from understanding the story. ETA: I will have written the definitions out. They only need to go over them. We may do some of this in class prior to the reading of the chapters.
During the first semester, we will be reading and discussing From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler
, The Whipping Boy
, and A Christmas Carol,
in that order. This will encompass a wide variety of styles, reading levels and content, obviously. I will ask parents to read aloud A Christmas Carol
with their kids because of the heavy unfamiliar vocabulary. I hope parents will comply.
(I'm a parent, too, so I will be reading aloud to my own boys.) ETA: I will present author bios, also, particularly with Charles Dickens. His life influenced his writings so heavily that the kids will miss much of the meaning without the personal history and context of the author and the time in which he lived. Each week, the students will be assigned reading (i.e. Chapters 1-2 of From the Mixed Up Files
for the second week of class). The first week will be an introduction of the concepts of lit analysis and the class expectations, getting to know each other, etc.
When students come to class the second week, I will present two literary terms from Figuratively Speaking, which they will write in their notebooks. Then we will begin discussion ala Deconstructing Penguins
of protagonist, antagonist, setting, and conflict. I expect a lot of silence and blank stares at first.
An initial goal of these first few weeks will be to create a culture of "safety" in which everyone's opinions/input is valued. I will write on the flip chart as we discuss. I will have read the assigned chapters and will ask Socratic questions to prime the pump, as needed. BTW, no student is required to participate in the discussion. I believe that everyone will participate at some point, but I will respect that not every person is comfortable contributing their thoughts for discussion with others, so they will do so as they are comfortable. I imagine myself asking "I wonder why..." and "I wonder what the purpose was for..." with a thoughtful look on my face. I expect some crowd control issues with kids who monopolize the discussion. I will gently deal with this. I also imagine asking the kids where they would want to run away to, as the main character in the book did.
Every week, I will bring my flip chart and we will review our thoughts from the previous week and add to them, noting the changes as the plot unfolds. I also have one week scheduled for poetry study. The students will have to do no preparation for this. It will be my chance to have fun with poetry and their chance to have no homework.
I think this will be interesting and fun. It will likely be a different experience for most of the kids in the class, though not mine. They are very used to mom saying, "I wonder...".
Hope that helps anyone. It helps me to write it all out.