Connecting to the Text: Day 4

1. Diagnostic Test results. Students saw how they did on the diagnostic test we took last week on Friday. They received both the test and their scantron with their answers. Then, students analyzed their strengths and weaknesses though breaking down how well they did on each set of questions using this sheet: Diagnostic Test Results. Students then determined which area they were superstars in and which area they needed work in. You can ask your child about this.

2. Storytime. Ms. Garvoille told a story about how much she hated English class in high school because she felt like she didn’t understand any of the readings, especially Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” in The Outsiders. Finally, when she was a junior in high school, Ms. Garvoille took an English class in which the novel Crime and Punishment was assigned. As she read the book, she felt suddenly that the character was just like her. It’s not that she wanted to kill an old woman like Raskolnikov did, nor was she a young Russian intellectual. It was much deeper than that: she felt like she though the same way as this character. Not just that, the minor characters in the novel reminded her of friends she had: this one was Rob, the other Jill, that one Jon. Finally, she began to like literature because she learned how to connect it to her life

3. Connecting to the Text. Students took a minute to describe the main character of their summer assignment book to their partners. Then, we started finding deep, not superficial, similarities between ourselves and the author of the memoir. We used this sheet to organize our thoughts: Reader Response. We first filled in the center boxes — what kind of similarity do you have to the author? a similar experience? outlook on life? similar values? Then, students filled in the left-hand boxes with details from the memoir and the right-hand boxes with a description of a specific moment in time from their own life that they felt showed that value, outlook, or experience. When we say moment in time, we mean this: if your life is one really, really long movie, a moment in time is a clip from that movie. It might be five minutes, fifteen, even an hour. But it’s not a month, a year, or a few years. This is something that happens in one instant. Finally, students chose one of the three events from their life to write about for one page. Tell the story of the event like I’m there, like it’s happening before my eyes, like you’re reliving it. This writing is due tomorrow and must be finished at home.

Here’s an example of the beginning of your writing. I told students about this story in class. Here’s how I would write it:

Under the dim blanket of clouds, we crunched across the gravel path between the Phoenix and Mott. I held the slim volume with one hand––The Interpreter of Maladies––swiping the stifling air with it as I spoke, slapping it against the palm of my left hand as if I could beat the stupid out of it. For our English class, we were supposed to be leading a discussion on one of the stories. But I couldn’t get over how dumb this one was. The Michigan pines towered over me. I glanced over at Jon. We had been talking about the story for a while now–how to lead the class, how to interpret it–but I was still hung up on Twinkle.

NEXT, I would add some dialogue here and then maybe explain what I was thinking about as I looked around and we walked. Perhaps I’d describe how my puffy vest jacket felt against my arms, what Jon looked like at the time. Finally, I’d get to a point in my inner thought process that I throw the book on the ground and walk off. Then I might explain how I really felt about the character, Twinkle, and why I hated her in the first place (she reminded me of cheerleaders, who I didn’t like in high school, but I knew that I should like everyone because I was a better person than that). I would end the piece with that moment of internal conflict.

HW: Write one page (or more for Honors) telling the story of one of the three experiences you wrote about on your Reader Response sheet. Tell it in your own voice, using description, dialogue, slang, whatever you want. There are no rules. This is just about you and your past, so do not mention the author of the memoir you read. This can be handwritten on notebook paper or you can type it.