Poem A Day:
“Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday. I asked students to try and figure out what the “strange fruit” is and write it in their notebooks. I also asked them to underline the lines in the song that led to their thinking. About 80% were able to figure it out.
This unit will explore sensitive but pertinent issues. I try to quickly communicate the fact that the book deals with serious issues- I remind them that they may not always agree with their peers but that it is important to stay open-minded and, at the very least, to show their peers the respect they want from their peers. After the gravity of the song- this is an easy sell.
Anticipation Guide. For this activity, I have a thick band of red tape running down the center of my classroom, on the floor. One end of the tape means “agree” and the other end of the tape is “disagree.” The tape acts as a continuum. Students can stand anywhere on the tape, and they can move around as they think and come to new understandings, or see new perspectives. Students love to move around the room, and they love to think out loud with each other in this activity. Every time we do it, my students spend the next few weeks asking when we will do it again. It is a perfect way to begin a unit that ends with a Socratic seminar. Fostering positive, open discourse is a central goal of this unit, and this activity sets it up perfectly. By the end of this unit, students are comfortable thinking, and sharing those thoughts with their peers.
I pose the following statements to the students and they get out of their seats. (you can ask any question that applies to themes you want to emphasize in the novel, or tie to current events. These were particularly timely in our culture right now (1 month before Trump’s election), and students were very enthusiastic when answering them. This activity is great as it naturally leads them to making connections between new ideas and what they already know). Also, it gives the teacher a good idea of where students are in their thinking.
-Adults understand things more accurately than children do
-People are born generally good
-If you are innocent, you should not fear the judicial system.
Notebook Response: Is Racism still alive in America today? Give at least three specific details that support your answer.
Assign novels, and begin reading if time. Assign chapters 1 and 2 for homework.