This Video Clip
"Literary reactions in a whole-group setting are important because students get a chance to gauge the opinions of their peers. They get to see how their thinking rates with everyone else. It also puts them in a position where sometimes they have to defend what they’re thinking."
Dorothy Franklin, Teacher
DeWitt Clinton Elementary School
Students in Dorothy Franklin’s urban Chicago classroom participate in a quarter-long study of Black History, spanning slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and modern events. In order to meet the needs of the diverse student population, including newly proficient ESOL students, special education students, and students reading at or above grade level, Ms. Franklin uses a variety of instructional approaches, including independent reading of books and small book group and whole-class seminar discussions.
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this lesson, students participate in the second part of a
seminar discussion focusing on the short story "Passing" by
Langston Hughes. In part one of the seminar, students discussed
the short story "Guests in the Promised Land" by Kristin Hunter.
This lesson preceded the one you will see in this video clip.
Both stories deal with Black oppression and lend themselves
to a natural pairing. In preparation for discussion, students
independently respond to questions in writing before the seminar,
so that they can thoughtfully offer their opinions and provide
supporting evidence. Ms. Franklin encourages students to express
their unique perspectives, to respectfully disagree with her
and classmates, and to explore possibilities that they may
have not considered on their own. In response to the seminar
experience, students are asked to compare and contrast the
actions and motives of the protagonists in the two stories.
Ms. Franklin hopes to provide students with an opportunity
to examine how two different Black characters responded to
their circumstances of oppression. The students in the seminar
model many of the hallmarks of a classroom community focused
on literature: their ideas are at the center of the classroom;
questions are viewed as central to the literary experience;
it is assumed by both the teacher and the students that they
will build on the understandings they came to class with;
it is assumed that multiple interpretations are both expected
resources that can help you use this clip for teacher professional
development, preservice education, administrative and English/language
arts content meetings, parent conferences, and back-to-school
events, visit our Support
Materials page. There, you will find PDF files of our
library guide, classroom lesson plan, student activity sheets,
and other Teacher Tools.