Teachers will use a variety of instructional strategies throughout both components of the unit. Since, in this particular school, class periods last 48 minutes, the general structure for lessons will be allocated as follows: A "Do Now" assignment upon student entry into the classroom, usually written, five minutes; initiation, which could consist of a mini lesson to meet grammar or other learning objectives, 10 minutes; actual classroom activities, reading, writing, listening, and speaking, either all together or separated, 30 minutes; and closure, three-minute wrap up to assess learning.
Response to Literature Group and Independent Work
Students will work through the unit as a whole group, in small groups, and in pairs. They will also work independently. Students will be able to share reading and discussion. Most mini lessons will take place in the whole-group format, with students later breaking up into smaller groups or pairs to read silently or aloud. In completing the literature circle worksheets, students will be required to work independently, bringing what they derived from the reading, as individuals, to the heterogeneous literature circle for discussion. In closure, students return to the whole-group setting to share what they learned that day.
Literature circle worksheets are designed to tap a variety of intelligences and learning strengths. Each lesson, incorporating the literature circle worksheets, enables students to experience before, during, and after reading strategies, such as: tapping background information prior to reading, recording literary aspects and historical facts unearthed during reading, and sharing what was discovered in the reading. Students will, daily, be setting a purpose for their reading, posing questions, making predictions, and determining whether their predictions were accurate. In one of the literature circle roles, a student is asked to draw something remembered from the reading and to describe why this is important, another role requires a student to be a leader, a third role calls for a summarizer, and another position makes a student responsible for assessing individual and group work during discussion. Teachers could expand upon the drawing assignment by asking students to create works of art or models depicting scenes from the two novels. Students could use a variety of artistic media, including paints, crayons, paper collages, and clay, among others, to create what they imagined while reading.
All literature circle worksheets will be assessed and graded the day they are completed, and the next day, when the students move into the discussion groups with their graded worksheets, they will be aware of how they are doing in the learning process. Since the discussion aspects of the literature circles cannot function properly if any student is absent, teachers may take the option of handing out worksheets, originally intended for an absent student, to another student, promising extra credit if he or she completes the worksheet for the absent child. If the absent child returns the next day, that graded worksheet will be handed to that child, so he or she can share in the discussion and not be excluded. Students are more than willing to take on extra work for extra credit.
There are five main roles in the literature circles: discussion director; literary luminary; creative connector; illustrator; and summarizer. A separate worksheet is created for each role and passed out on a rotating basis to students. Each sheet contains the student's name, title of the book, date, the numbers of the pages being read, a description of the role, and an area in which to complete the work. It is the discussion director's job to create a list of questions the group might want to discuss about this part of the book; the discussion director helps the group talk over the main ideas in the reading and share reactions. On the discussion director's worksheet, there is a place to record four possible questions or topics for discourse, and there is a list of suggested questions that could be used by the group. For the literary luminary's role, it may be better if the teacher selects a literary element all the groups can investigate, and this element should appear on the pages students had to read. For instance, one literary element for analysis could be finding dashes that are used to add further meaning or detail to the text. It is the literary luminary's job to find a few sections in the reading that the group would like to hear read aloud, which illustrate or make clear the literary element. This worksheet gives space for up to four examples to be found in the reading, and the luminary writes down the page number, the location of the paragraph, the reason the example was chosen, and the plan for who will read the part aloud. The creative connector finds connections between the book the group is reading and the world outside the book. Creative connectors must connect the text to their own lives, to events within the community or school, to similar events in history, or to other people and problems. When the creative connector finds a passage, there is a space on the worksheet in which he or she can write his or her personal connection to the literature. The creative connector must then write three questions to enable group members to make connections. The illustrator must draw a picture related to the reading; it can be a sketch, cartoon, stick figure scene, flow chart, diagram, or other work of art, but it must depict a feeling or an event from the book. When the illustration is complete, the discussion director invites the illustrator to show the art without saying what it is. Group members must then try to guess what the drawing represents. At the end, the illustrator tells the purpose of the artwork. It is the summarizer's job to write a brief summary of what was read, being careful to include the key points, the main highlights, and the essence of the reading. There is enough space on the worksheet to record the summary and up to five key points. (9)
Because, in this particular class, the completion of homework is inconsistent, and the literature circles could not function without everyone making sure they read all of the assigned pages and completed the questions on their worksheets, the unit is designed to devote 30 minutes of one lesson, on one day, to reading 10 pages silently or aloud in the groups, with 30 minutes of the next day's lesson spent on actual literature circle discourse, using the answers written on the worksheets the previous day. In classes where homework completion is more dependable, teachers could assign a certain number of pages to read at home, ask students to complete the worksheets at home, and then, when the students return the next day, the class time can be devoted to literature circle discourse. One problem with this approach is that the teacher is unable to grade the worksheets prior to students entering the circles for discussion. Assessing the paperwork would, therefore, take place after discourse.
Process in Writing Component
Six lesson plans comprise the
Christmas After All
process in writing work. In each lesson, students write one half page journal entries and then enter heterogeneous peer editing groups of no more than three students per group, to read the writing aloud and to edit the work. In the groups of three, each person receives the writer's journal entry, the piece is read aloud, and then the work is edited, aloud, and marked with pencil or pen to note changes needed. The writer also makes the changes on his or her paper during the peer editing process. Students make Venn Diagrams comparing and contrasting present day Christmas to Christmas in the 1930s Great Depression, in preparation for the writing assignment. They also create a rough draft, edit the work, rewrite the assignment, make a second draft, and then after all editing is complete, students submit the final copy.
In both components of the unit, students should be given an opportunity to enter the school's computer laboratory to write the final copies of their assessment pieces. After printing, the documents may then be stapled in booklet form, using construction paper covers. Students could also illustrate the covers. In schools where facilities are available to bind the books using cardboard and wallpaper coverings, this is another way the work could be displayed in its final form.
As a culminating activity to both novels, students would view the films
It’s a Wonderful Life
. They could then write a review of each film, assessing the films' relationship to the historical moments they claim to depict. Students could compare and contrast how the novels portray the time period with the ways in which the films show the time period. They could also say whether what they saw in their mind's eye while reading the novels was accurately depicted when compared to the historical period viewed on film.
Old time radio programs, recorded and available today on cassette tapes, featuring some of the comedies and serious shows mentioned in
Christmas After All
, and compact discs or cassette tapes featuring a story from World War II, through a program known as
Adventures in Odyssey
, could also be played to the students during the unit. Students could create their own radio shows by writing scripts and then performing the shows in groups. Some tapes available from Radio Reruns include: the 1938 classic, "The Shadow's Revenge," from
; "War of the Worlds, Part I and Part II, starring Orson Wells," the broadcast that brought panic to the world on Oct. 30, 1938; "The Old Jalopy," Best of Series 1939, from
Fibber McGee & Molly
; "A Matter of Evidence," from
The Green Hornet
; and "Pearl Harbor Attacked! A Day That Will Live in Infamy, Dec. 7, 1941," from
Newsbreaks As They Happened on That Day
. In the
Adventures in Odyssey Classics, Star and Spangled Stories
, the radio dramas related to World War II include: "East Winds, Raining," from
At Home and Abroad
, Pearl Harbor; "Rescue from Manatugo Point," from
Terrific Tales, Mysterious Missions
, World War II; and "Operation Dugout," from
Terrific Tales, Mysterious Missions
, World War II. In addition, teachers could expose students to the music, which was popular for young people living during the 1930s and 1940s, such as the Big Band sounds of the Swing Era.