December 6: A Day


1. Freewrite.

2. Focused freewrite. Students wrote for four minutes to this prompt: If a character from The Outsiders walked into Grafton High School today and you were assigned to be their buddy, to show them to their classes and make sure they didn’t sit alone in the cafeteria, what would you tell that character? How would you act toward them? What tips would you give them?

3. Oral Quiz on Chapter 7.

4. Sentence corrections focused on subject-verb agreement.

5. Press conference. Students were assigned to be either characters or reporters. Characters came up with a three sentence statement for the press. Reporters came up with three questions to ask characters.

6. Chapter 8 read-aloud. We finished reading Chapter 8 in class.

HW: Read Chapter 9 and find five examples of your motif in chapters 8 and 9 combined.


1. Freewrite.

2. Annotation practice. As a class, we annotated this passage:

Mr. Baggins saw then how clever Gandalf had been. The interruptions had really made Beorn more interested in the story, and the story had kept him from sending the dwarves off at once like suspicious beggars.   (124)

3. Next, students came up with some assertions we could make based on this annotation. I then modeled how to write a strong paragraph using the ACE-IT model. Here is the paragraph we came up with:

The interruptions in The Hobbit aren’t pointless; in fact, they are crucial steps to reaching the climax of the story. When the dwarves first arrive at Beorn’s house, they have entered slowly, two at a time. Tolkien writes that “[t]he interruptions had really made Beorn more interested in the story,” rather than making him think they are pointless (124). Since these interruptions make Beorn “more interested,” the reader can infer that they are essential elements of the story. Of course, what is a story if the listener or reader isn’t “interested”? Just like the dwarves interrupting Gandalf’s story, the various events in The Hobbit leading up to the climax create interest for the reader. If the reader misses the fact that these interruptions are interesting, she might skip over them, further missing the heroism of Bilbo Baggins.

4. Students received Hobbit motif writing to help them use the ACE-IT formula for a passage they selected from the text related to their motif.

HW: Read Chapter 8 and 9 and annotate for motifs by Tuesday. Read Chapter 10 by next Thursday.


1. Freewrite.

2. Focused freewrite: Why is Bilbo even on this journey if he doesn’t need the money and it has nothing to do with his ancestors? We read our answers and discussed this question briefly.

3. Oral Quiz on Chapter 7. 

5. Analysis of the dwarves’ wind song. Students received this printout (the wind poem ch 7) to help them analyze what this song is actually about. Since dwarves are seldom as direct as Hobbits (and people) wish them to be, we often have to read into their songs to understand what this mission is all about. I suggested the wind was not just wind but something else. Students worked in teams to analyze the poem and illustrate each stanza. Here is a great example of what we came up with:


6. ACE-IT Paragraph model. Based on our assertions about the poem, I modeled for students how to apply the ACE-IT paragraph structure (Assertion, Context, Evidence, Interpretation, Transition). Here is the paragraph I came up with on the spot, much to the delight of my fascinated audience (they did give me a round of applause, of course):

Tolkien suggests that the dwarves’ quest will be successful by including the wind song. In the very last line of the poem, recited after dinner at Beorn’s house, the dwarves sing that “stars were fanned to leaping light” (127). Tolkien describes the end of the wind’s journey as one of “leaping light,” suggesting that everything has worked out for the best and the dwarves have moved from their dark business of revenge into the light of success. Additionally, the use of the word “stars” implies that this “leaping light” of a success was intended by fate: the stars had destined the dwarves to be successful. It is important to understand that the song implies success because this is foreshadowing the end of the novel.

7. ACE-IT applied! Students chose their own few sentences from Chapter 6 or 7 to annotate on their own and write an analysis paragraph using the ACE-IT formula. Here is the sheet we used: Hobbit motif writing. If students didn’t finish it in class, they should finish it for homework.

HW: Read Chapter 8 and 9 and annotate for motifs by Tuesday. This is a lot of reading, but we need to read it before going to our movie next week. That’s why I’m assigning two chapters for Tuesday. Read Chapter 10 by next Thursday.