Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interdisc: North v. South & Ralph v. Jack

In History, we are on the 'Road to the Civil War' and have been considering the foundational divide of the Union and the Confederacy. As we explore the underlying issues, concerns, priorities, and ideologies of the populations on each side of the Mason-Dixon line, I wanted our students to dig deeper into what, exactly, begins to split Ralph and Jack by the end of Chapter 3. It's easy to stop at a simplistic dichotomy for both feuds: slaves v. free blacks, bully Jack v. humanitarian Ralph. However, both conflicts are more complex, rooted in and influenced by issues of humanity, autonomy, and ultimately, power.

Flipping through 'Deeper Reading' by Kelly Gallagher, I came upon a metaphor graphic organizer called 'Open Mind' (created by John Powers) where you draw a picture of an empty head and then fill it with the character's thoughts, etc. As a brainstorming tool, this allows students to 'get inside the character's mind' and use that shift in perspective to consider their choices/actions. However, I didn't want the students to merely recap each position - to be effective the organizer needed to also evaluate the conflicts themselves.

We use a basic journal notebook to keep and collect notes/connections/etc. Across two pages the class drew two sets of profiles. We started with the North v. South which was a nice review of the last two weeks of their notes. Then, BETWEEN THE PROFILES, they had to answer the following question: 'Why can't these two sides co-exist?'. From there, we moved to Lord of the Flies, re-capped the concerns of Ralph and Jack established in Chapters 1-3, digging into the text for quotations and analyzing characterization. I then asked for the center question 'Can these leaders co-exist?'. Overall, a very successful lesson - it hooked both those loving and struggling with the reading, connected in an interesting way to our broader themes, and students effectively evaluated the significant factors contributing to the growing divide of both conflicts.

No comments:

Post a Comment