Tag Archives: of mice and men

Group Magazine Project

21st January 2016

Societal Issues My Honors Sophomores are currently reading Of Mice and Men using a critical lens and are working towards writing their lens analysis essay. I am currently working on their next assignment. I am planning on having them examine literature through mainly historical, cultural, and economic lenses in order to answer the quarter’s essential question: What role does literature play in the examination of recurring societal issues?

My goal is to create a collaborative magazine that answers the essential question using literature we have read so far this year and the students own research.

Here is what I plan on asking students to do individually:

  1. Choose one piece of literature we have read this year that you feel examined a societal issue closely.
  2. Analyze this piece of literature through a historical, cultural, or economic lens and determine how the author used said lens to comment on the societal issue of the time period.
    1. You must choose an excerpt of the piece and annotate it digitally through your chosen lens.
    2. Explain the author’s argument on the societal issue you have selected through a 2 WWH paragraph analysis.
  3. Then, choose one piece of current media that examines a different societal issue (than the one chosen above) from today.
    1. You must show evidence from the piece (annotations or commentary) with correct MLA citation from the media you choose that best shows the author/director/producer’s argument on the societal issue at hand.
    2. Explain the media’s argument on the societal issue you have selected through a historical, cultural, or economic lens through a 2 WWH paragraph analysis.

Then, as a team they will collaborate and create the following:

  1. Using Jilster.com, an online magazine creator, synthesize your individual findings from above into a team project which includes:
    1. A magazine cover that:
      1. Has a clever and witty title for the magazine
      2. Words or phrases that synthesizes the magazine’s pages
      3. Largely displays the one sentence argument answering the essential question: What role does literature play in the examination of reoccurring societal issues?
  1. Graphics that represent the literature and media analyzed throughout the magazine
  2. Digital excerpts of piece analyzed (with annotations) and the WWH analysis paragraph of excerpted pieces (What is the lens? where is the evidence of that lens in the content? how does that lens identify the societal issues of that time period?) Statements with correct MLA citations.
  3. Four “filler” pages relating to your lenses and the literature included to entertain/amuse readers. Select from the following list, or add your own filler after getting it approved by me. Just remember all fillers MUST RELATE your magazine’s overall argument on the essential question.
    1. Paparazzi photo – catch a character/person in “the act”
    2. Horoscopes of Characters from pieces included in magazine
    3. Crossword puzzles/word searches/riddles
    4. Classified job section for Characters from pieces included in magazine
    5. Comic/cartoon/illustration created by a group member
4. MLA work cited of all literature/media discussed

I am hoping this assignment will get them thinking critically about what we read in school and what they view in the outside world, as well as, how these exposures reveal varying perspectives about societal issues. 


Teaching Lens Theory

3rd January 2016

OMM Pinterest Title Image

After the first semester, my honors sophomores have a pretty good grasp on the four types of essay writing I concentrate on in my class the most: narrative, analysis, argument, and synthesis.

After winter break, I begin to focus them more on how to put a “spin” on each of these essay types to ensure greatest success in developing a thesis and overall originality while staying on prompt: two key traits needed for their path in AP Language and Composition. For analysis, I teach them an overview of Critical Lens Theory. I divide up the following lenses to each of my eight learning teams:

  1. Cultural

  2. Historical

  3. Psychological

  4. Economic

  5. Feminist

  6. Rhetorical

  7. Race

  8. Biographical

I go over this Prezi with them and have them take notes on each of the lenses, paying specific attention to their table’s assigned lens. After the Prezi, I have the students mix up to different tables so there is a different lens present at each table. They then play Apples to Apples appealing to not their friend anymore, but their friend the feminist (insert lens accordingly). It is a fun activity and it gets them thinking about wearing a different “hat” or perspective than normal.

Lens Theory Prezi

Once they know which lens they are assigned for their analysis of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, I send them into the lab for a day to research 2-3 articles online that will help them to analyze the novel through their lens and to help them familiarize themselves with their lens a bit more.

The students must type up an annotated bibliography of their lens research and turn it into www.turnitin.com (this is homework the three days after the lab day).

It is good to note, that I provide my students with their Lens Analysis Essay assignment prior to them beginning their reading of the novel. Armed with their research, notes, and the assignment itself, students are then ready to begin their reading of the novel.

I have them complete a Lens Dialectical Journal as they read the novel in order to ensure they are thinking through their lens as they read and not just through their “student” lens. I tell them as they walk into class each day to remember to put on their “lens hat” for the hour.

This unit usually takes about three weeks to complete as I do other activities with the novel that doesn’t require the lenses along the way.

I believe it is good to expose them to these perspectives and how these perspectives effect an understanding of any text they read and hey, it might come in handy one day on a college essay.

Hope your 2016 is off to a great start!


The Super Rad Socratic

3rd February 2015

Let’s just face it, Socratic seminars are either super rad or super sad. When the students stay focused and discuss using evidence from the text and their own lives, magic happens in the English classroom; but, when you get a class that is quiet, they just stare at each other and all you hear is “crickets”. However, the whole-class graded Socratic seminar is highly rigorous and will keep your students engaged for an entire 55 minute period whether they are extroverts or introverts – I promise!

First, I set my classroom up with three Socratic circles – from the center circle out, there should be a chair behind each student (as the students are going to rotate up and out).

2015-01-30 13.41.01

Second, as the students come into class, I tell them to pick a circle to sit in: inner, middle, or outer and I give them a one word descriptor for each so they can decide to sit based on what they think is their strength in argument writing (i.e. inner – thesis, middle – evidence, outer – TOES (which I use as a short way to say: types of evidence (literature, current event, history, pop culture, personal anecdote, social observations, etc.).

Third, once the students have chosen their seats and I then hand out a class set of directions, similar to the below, and verbally talk them through the directions.

Of Mice and Men Satire

Graded Socratic Seminar

Whole-Class Essay Outline


1. Inner circle will be creating the thesis statement with two “prongs” (i.e. two body paragraphs) that will answer the following prompt (when finished, they will move out of the circle to the back circle, pair up, and will create full circle hook/closure options while circle 2 and 3 go): – 10 min.


After reading “Girl Moved to Tears by Of Mice and Men Cliffs Notes” and examining the satirical cartoon, outline an essay defending or refuting whether satire is an effective way to deliver a message.

2. Center circle will be choosing the (four) 4 pieces textual evidence ((two) 2 for each body paragraph) from the article/cartoon that help support the thesis statement chosen in circle 1. 15 min.

3. Outer circle will be coming up with (two) 2 TOES (types of evidence  (literature, current event, history, pop culture, personal anecdote, social observations, etc.), USING YOUR PHONE if necessary, that will help support the thesis chosen and pair well with circle 2’s chosen evidence in the body paragraphs. 15 min.

  1. 2015-01-29 13.22.22

    Thus, at the end of the hour, the outline below (that I write for them on the front white board) should be completely filled.



Body 1: Reason

Evidence (article/cartoon)

Evidence (article/cartoon)


Body 2: Reason

Evidence (article/cartoon)

Evidence (article/cartoon)




2015-02-02 11.28.45 2015-02-02 11.28.50

Basically, I do not run Socratic seminar, the students do.

Here are some teacher pointers:

  • At the end of the hour, I review the white board with their whole-class determined outline and I talk them through their strengths and weaknesses and then I score it on an AP 1-9 scale right in front of them. The entire class gets the same score in the grade book.
  • Make sure each circle nominates a “scribe” to write their ideas down on the white board (they can still contribute to the discussion from the front of the room).
  • I tell each circle when their time is up (and I literally time them on my phone, when I have not done this they run out of time) and they rotate up and out.
  • I remind them that if they are not in the center circle at that moment then they must be silent and listening to their peers.

Post a comment with any questions,

XO. Brit