I started my Antigone unit, which is the first one where I really make the kids be independent; their autonomy is important to me. I want to see that my Sophomores are learning how to learn without my guidance. For me, independence is key. However, I do start them with some guided instruction.
First, I did provide the vocabulary for the week. Admittedly, this is a bit guided, but the kids truly do take over once I initiate the day. Here is our usual routine. Here is a bit more on our vocabulary lessons.
The last part through which I guide the students is the background information about Antigone. Since this is the third play in the Oedipus Cycle, I use a PowerPoint in which I tell the history of Oedipus (the story of Cadmus is on a poster outside my classroom), and the students take notes while looking for literary devices employed in the storyline.
Once this concludes (and the students are very excited because of the “eww” factor of Oedipus’ marriage), I ask the students to draw a family tree using the story’s characters. Eventually, they agree as a class after sharing their trees, and they always seem to get it right.
Then, I put the kids into group of four. I pick the groups; the kids do not. This way I get them to mix it up, and I try to spread the dramatically inclined kids throughout the groups. Then I have the students choose to be an A, B, C, or D. This way the students, by chance, have picked their parts in the play. A = Antigone and Haemon, B = Creon and Ismene, C = Chorus, Teiresias, and Eurydice, and D = Choragos, Sentry, and Messenger.
I then have the kids spread the groups throughout the classroom (3 max in class) and into the halls. They have their parts and read/perform the play in their groups. Some take notes while others do not. Regardless, once they finish the play I have study guides for the kids to use to review the play. I walk among the groups during the periods to answer questions and clarify difficult passages. Really, the kids just take over and get to work.
Typically, the kids finish the play in about 3-4 days and need an additional 2 days to complete the study guide questions. They “correct” the study guides by debating in class and asking each other questions. I stay out of the discussion and only intercede if they aren’t being respectful or starting to get off-task. By this time, the kids have identified the literary devices used and have explored the major themes of the play.
Then, I assign a thesis paper or a presentation comparing and contrasting a character in this play with one from The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, or I assign the same paper/project using The Long Walk Home. I generally prefer using the film rather than the Shakespearean play for the paper/project because it leads us to the race relations in our next novel, To Kill A Mockingbird.
This is one of my favorite weeks because I get to watch the kids take over the reading, comprehending, and exploring. Fun times and always a confidence builder for them and me.