The eighth grade was gone all week long. Monday was Columbus Day, Tuesday was a drop block, and Wednesday on the 8th graders were on their Williamsburg trip.
MON: Columbus Day
Another reason why these skits were a bad idea: there was a test to study for! We spent most of the class reviewing the book by going over the characters. We also briefly touched on animals and nature as a motif in Of Mice and Men.
The rest of the class was devoted to practicing the skits. I set the following guidelines for the skits:
- A script was allowed, but I wanted acting, not mere reading aloud.
- No video cuts. The skit was to be performed in one take.
- The skit needed to be rehearsed. That meant working out blocking ahead of time.
- There needed to be some effort to establish setting. (Props, backgrounds, costumes)
Small groups vied for which chapter they got to do. Within that chapter, they needed to pick a critical scene to work on. Next year (if I do this next year), I need to set a time limit on the scene.
Continuing our review for Of Mice and Men, we read and discussed “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns. I played a professional reading of the poem by a true Scotsman and then explained the poem stanza by stanza.
We talked about why Steinbeck would choose to name his novel from a line out of this poem and debated who might be the mouse in the book.
I also quickly reviewed the essential questions for the book and discussed how I expected the students to explain the quotes in the test (by addressing the essential questions)
I suggested that the best way to study for the test was by looking over the wiki, the blog, highlighted passages from the book, the essential questions, and class notes.
THUR: Of Mice and Men Test
Today I gave the unit test for Of Mice and Men. I made one minor change: next to each quotation I put in a hint as to how I wanted the student to tie in their explanation of the quote to one of the essential questions. Students still had a hard time explaining the quotations, though. I think more scaffolded instruction is needed in answering such open-ended questions. Maybe something that can be done on the blogs.
I gave the period over in order for the small groups to rehearse their skits. Some of the wind seemed to have left their sails now that they just took their unit test.