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Thursday, January 5, 2017

There is no right answer.

My kids got a soft landing too.

I planned it that way.

Last semester, we ended by reading "Of Mice and Men."

We didn't watch the movie.

This has happened before.

Every fall gets away from me and I run out of time for the movie.

A couple of years ago, I hit upon a plan that continues to work well.

We save the film for our return.

That way students have something to look forward to and we can ease back into academics.

Plus, to be honest, they really really like the book and the movie.

So today we created Venn Diagrams (square ones--I hate trying to write inside circle slivers).

The kids briefly brainstormed what they recall of the novel.

I was pleasantly surprised at the level of detail students came up with on their own.

Not all of them, but when a kid looks up and says "Ms. Hirsch, did Carlson kill Candy's dog with same the Luger George used to kill Lennie?" I feel pride.

Especially because this kid is a self-proclaimed non-reader who has struggled academically since 4th grade.

It always surprises me when kids recall oddly specific details like that.

I mean, I remember those details, but I've read the book like 50 times.

Once we have discussed the basic bones of the story, we started watching.

I love that film.

Maybe because I am a little tiny bit obsessed with the scrumptious Gary Sinese.

But also because it does a surprisingly good job of capturing most of the essentials of the novel.

Except for the end, of course.

The hallucinations that so tantalizingly complicate Lennie's psychiatry are completely absent.

We haven't gotten that far yet.

Instead, the students are comparing John Malcovic's Lennie to Gary Sinese's reading of the character.

They notice the similarities in the dialogue first.

Inevitably, they also notice that most of that dialogue happens in the "wrong" location.

Candy's missing hand is a bone of contention--it isn't very well done.

Many recognize the introduction of events and characters happen chronologically, without the flashbacks of the novel.

It is just fun.

Students took notes, more or less as they prefer.

At the end of the hour, the exit activity was a call about whether we like the film.

A few arguments inevitably ensued.

When we finish the film, students will have a timed write to complete.

They will be encouraged to use their notes and probably talk to their neighbors.

The goal will be to decide whether they think the novel is better or the fim is better.

There is no right answer.

It is the quality of evidence and argument I am looking for.

The most convincing paragraphs wins a prize and everyone gets a grade.

Since our focus for this semester, in addition to NaNoWriMo revision, is literary response and analysis, this exercise will also give a me a good idea of how proficient students are at using evidence effectively.

So, yeah, that's a good thing.

On top of the soft landing and fun involved, the academics feel like icing on the cake.

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What do you think? Does this good thing remind you of a story of your own? Have a question or comment? Please leave a comment!