I had a great few days in AP Lit this past week. They happened in my more challenging room -- the one where I have English class in the physics lab, the one where the big lab tables are oddly arranged and way too heavy to move. What has happened is that we have all just turned our stools towards the empty middle of the room and sat with our Othello texts and pencils in hand reading/acting/miming our way through the second act. The students have been more engaged in the TEXT (not the story -- that always grabs them -- but the actual book in their hand) than most all of my prior classes.
Pushing close reading even more has been a recent goal of mine. I have worked to remember to ask a student with every response to point us all to a place in the text, and what has happened is that this particular class has already internalized that. They start their responses with the text. As a result, they have seen and shared really cool things and made connections that other classes have not made -- or at least never expressed out loud.
It is an interesting thing to see happen -- reminding me of how one teaching goal can spawn unexpected results. I have ended up being able to change my discussion prompts. On Friday, all I did was to tell them to have pencil in hand and that those who did not have parts to read/perform were particularly responsible for marking new things they learned or "ah ha" moments. When the reading was done, all I had to say was, "So what did you notice?," and off the discussion went. I have tried this before with lots of silence in response. But this time, it was different -- and invigorating. I had a class marking all over the text and debating with each other, not through me. A good end to the week. A good end to what ultimately is a class training exercise I suppose. I am pleased with the results of course and now am still trying to figure out all of the reasons why it worked this time!