Huswifery – A Brain Break with a Poetic Discussion

So far we have spent a solid two days on everything we have read. There is no way we can legitimately cover all of the biggies from American Literature in one tiny little semester. Such a tragedy in trying to narrow through the texts to find the biggest bang for the bucks. As an added bonus, if we skip too much time we have to teach students about the historical gaps because they don’t have the background needed to really comprehend the literature and the affect of the literature without a idea of the historical standpoint. Of course, I’m not sure I would have had all I needed to know either at that point in my educational journey, but at least we had a year to get through the curriculum.

Alas, if a module is 4 1/2 weeks, we are only a week behind. That can be justified since we did a Common Core Workshop during the first week to really take time to introduce expectations to the students (materials are free at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/American-Literature-Common-Core-Workshop-Reading-Info-Text-and-Writing-Task-844323; the blog entry is found at https://kirkscorner4commoncore.com/2013/08/24/english-iii-hybrid-tn-eocccss-course-what-is-it-to-be-american/).

So, we decided the students needed a break with a short task which could be accomplished in one day’s lesson. As an added bonus, we needed another practice with Accountable Talk stems. Huswifery, as old as it may be, provided exactly what we needed. What, then, did I do to prepare and how did it go?

First, I read the text and made notes. In my notes I noticed I was paraphrasing each part, so that became the reading skill for the students. This lesson was based on Accountable Talk, so I only needed to provide a quick reading support to build content knowledge and then scaffold a discussion. Just in case the conversation lulled, I knew I needed to have some discussion questions. Since I also want students to build critical thinking and self-directed, high-level questioning, I wanted them to created questions as well.

At first, students read the poem and took notes on what it made them think of and what they thought it was about. Next, I had them watch a video with a few images and the text of the poem. Here lies one thing I would change: If I were to do it again, between the individual reading and the video I would have the students share out with a shoulder partner to build knowledge and confidence. But the imagery served the purpose just as well. (You can find the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIod7xpO7jc.) After reading, paraphrasing the first stanza was modeled. Then, students were asked to summarize the paraphrase to get the main idea of the text. As a “We Do” the class was guided through the paraphrase process through questioning before completing the stanza summary. Students independently paraphrased and summarized the final stanza. To verify their thinking, I had students share out their ideas and then synthesize the point of the poem as a whole. From here, each student was given a post-it to create a short answer question pertaining to the text.

I collected all post-its and secretly pulled out the weak ones and added in a few I prepared in advance. All students were then given a post-it to start the discussion. I put Accountable Talk Stems on the board and set a timer for thirty minutes. From there, we had a great conversation about the text. A few students were taking notes on the poem, and I need to find a way to make more students do that.

After our discussion, we reviewed the process of close reading and paraphrasing/summarizing stanzas only to lead into a short answer writing question pertaining to the poem: What does Huswifery tell you about life during the time period? Apply what you know from previous readings to this response.

Nice.

So how did the answers turn out? I think I need to do a short lesson on how to formulate a constructed response this week. Oh… And we are going to focus on support and elaboration for the writing aspect.

If you replicate this process, please let me know how it goes for you!

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