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Grade: Senior
Subject: Literature

#4256. "A Pair of Stockings" and Reader Response

Literature, level: Senior
Posted Wed Nov 12 00:08:19 PST 2008 by Jenifer Jones (Jenifer Jones).
Materials Required: 1.A copy of “A Pair of Silk Stockings” by Kate Chopin (distribute this excerpt and prompts 1-3 found
Activity Time: This lesson is designed for a 60 minute class
Concepts Taught: reader response

A Pair of Stockings Lesson Plan
Grade 10

Standards:

Strand: I. READING AND LITERATURE: Students will read and understand grade-appropriate English language text.

Sub Strand 1. Comprehension: The student will understand the meaning of informational, expository or persuasive texts, using a variety of strategies and will demonstrate literal, interpretive, inferential and evaluative comprehension.
Relevant Benchmarks:
7. Make inferences and draw conclusions based on explicit and implied information from
texts.
Sub Strand 2. Literature: The student will actively engage in the reading process and read, understand, respond to, analyze, interpret, evaluate and appreciate a wide variety of fiction, poetic and nonfiction texts.
Relevant Benchmarks:
7. Evaluate a literary selection from several critical perspectives.
14. Respond to literature using ideas and details from the text to support reactions and
make literary connections.

Objectives:

Students will examine their own personal reader characteristics that they bring to each individual text.
Students will respond to a piece of literature by using ideas and concepts from the specific text to support conclusions and establish connections.
Students will recognize the importance of context as it relates to comprehension and interaction of any given text.
Students will compose a formula to explain “meaning” in the context of reader response theory and critically evaluate this formula to assess its credibility.
Students will identify reader response as one of the valid lenses used when examining and dissecting literature from a wide variety of genres.

Materials Needed:
1.A copy of “A Pair of Silk Stockings” by Kate Chopin (distribute this excerpt and prompts 1-3 found under “Class Introduction” the day before this lesson).
2.Plenty of white boards for writing and class notes.

Duration of Lesson: This lesson is designed for a 60 minute class period

Class Introduction:Teacher: The day before this lesson, students will have been given a copy of the “A Pair of Stockings” excerpt and the following prompts:
1. List three characteristics of yourself that influence your interpretation of the text.
2. Identify two things about where you were when you read this text.
3. Find one place in this text that is illustrative of the main character's thought processes.

Students will have returned to class with these materials for the lesson. Before class, put the warm up writing prompt on the board:
1.Think of a time when you received an unexpected sum of money (money for birthday present, found money on a street, etc). What did you want to do with this money? What did you do with this money? What should you have done with this money?

Cover this prompt with the projector screen. When class begins, have students produce their responses to the assigned literature prompts (1-3).

Teacher: Introduce the idea of reader response as one of many lenses used to dissect and analyze literature and introduce the plan for the day: to devise a formula explaining the elements of meaning using the reader response lens

Warm Up facilitated by Group: (5 minutes)

Teacher: “In order to start thinking about reader response, we're going to do a short writing activity. Please take the next few minutes to quietly write down your response to the following scenario.”

Teacher: lift up the projector screen and show the students the pre-written writing prompt. Give students time to write down answers. At the end of the three minutes ask students to share answers.

Teacher: “You've been given a scenario similar to that which Mrs. Sommers finds herself in. Would anyone like to share what they have written in response to the writing prompt? Facilitate a brief discussion:
Any funny scenarios involving how you struck it “rich”?
How did you feel about the way you spent the money? Was it worth it?
What does your spending say about yourself? Do your actions mirror your personality?

Transition: Teacher: “Now that we've started to connect ourselves with today's text, we're going to examine this further by breaking down reader response theory into three distinct, important parts. Each of these parts, when combined, create our formula for reader response. This formula will be used in many of the discussions we have in this and other English courses. The first of these three parts asks us to examine something we're pretty familiar with: OURSELVES!”

Reader Characteristics Activity facilitated by Jason: (15 minutes)

Teacher: Introduce reader characteristics by providing a short description (very short lecture) of how a reader’s personal characteristics can influence how they view a text. Lecture should include the following concepts:
Personal characteristics of a reader may influence how they view a text
Characteristics that influence interpretation must pertain to text
Example: Being female is a characteristic that may influence interpretation of “A Pair of Silk Stockings,” but being a firm supporter of the death penalty is probably not influential in this text (as it would be in a text like Native Son)
Personal characteristics are the first piece of the three piece formula regarding “meaning” in reader response.

Teacher: “I've asked you to come to class today with three personal characteristics that influenced your reading of “A Pair of Silk Stockings”. Please take these out now. What characteristics did you write down?”

Students will examine their own personal reader characteristics that they bring to each individual text.

Teacher: Have students share a characteristic and write it on the board. After the responses are written on the board, break students into small groups to discuss how their personal characteristics might have influenced the meaning of the text. Facilitate activity by walking around and listening to groups. Flicker lights to get students' attention at end of activity.

Teacher: Open up discussion to the whole class to see what the smaller groups found. Prompt student response with the following questions:

Is it easier to be alike or different from Mrs. Sommers?
Did you share characteristics with other group members?
Any characteristics that kept coming up in relation to this text?

Transition:Teacher: “Reader characteristics is the first part of our reader response formula. We're going to switch gears and move to the next section of our formula. This section deals with text characteristics.”

Text Characteristics Activity facilitated by Adam: (15 minutes)

Teacher: “Next we are going to discuss the presentation of the main character’s internal thought process and decision-making capacities. How did Mrs. Sommers’ unspoken train of thought ultimately affect your sympathies as a reader? First, I want you to recall what passage in the text you identified as illustrative of Mrs. Sommers' internal thought process. Can I see the hands of a couple students willing to share their excerpt? No need to explain your quote, we’re just pulling examples from the text for now.”
Students will respond to a piece of literature by using ideas and concepts from the specific text to support conclusions and establish connections.

Teacher: Draw a T-chart on the board. Label the left side of T-chart “Points of Interest.” Leave the right side of the T-chart unlabeled for now. Gather two to three student examples from the text; quickly summarize them, including page number, on the left side of the T-chart.

Teacher: “I have summarized our points of interest on the left side of our T-chart. Next I would like you to think about what our selected excerpts say about Mrs. Sommers. Do you as a reader feel pulled into a certain understanding of her actions by the thought process described in these quotations? How do these examples characterize Mrs. Sommers? Let’s go line by line here and see if we can’t reach some consensus on what is being implied by her thought process.”

Teacher: Label the right side of the T-chart “What it says about Sommers.” Gather attitudes about each of the quotation summaries on the left and list them to the right of the corresponding quote on the T-chart.

Teacher: “Finally, based off the evidence and consequential inference gathered in our T-chart, what can we say about Mrs. Sommers’ thought process and our feelings toward her actions in ‘A Pair of Silk Stockings?’ Would anyone like to take a stab at synthesizing what we have here?”
What kind of profile do we have of Mrs. Sommers?
Is she a nice person in this text? Would you want her as a friend?
Does the text justify her actions?
Teacher: Copy down the consensus best summary of the effects of the explicit thought process of the main character. Be sure to leave this on the board as this will serve as the “textual characteristic” in the overall formula of reader response.

Teacher Note: Whereas normally the class would consider many textual characteristics, in the interest of time, we only concern ourselves with one, namely the presentation of Mrs. Sommers’ thought process. Also, ideally, students would work in groups on the questions posed by the teacher, rather than the admittedly deficient initiate, respond, evaluate (IRE) approach here (Beach, et al 88). Instructors could facilitate extra class periods to ensure more adequate time for group work.

Transition:Teacher: “Note that this is not only textual characteristic, but merely one of many possible readings of a single aspect of this text. Okay, we now have a textual characteristic to add to our meaning formula. We have reader characteristics plus textual characteristics. But remember, I said there's three parts of this formula. The last part we're going to add to this formula is contextual characteristics.”


Reading Context Characteristics Activity facilitated by Rick: (15 minutes)

Teacher: “For about the next 10 minutes we’re going to discuss the role that the reading context perhaps played in how you interpreted this short story, as well as how different reading contexts could yield different types of interpretations. To keep things as simple as possible, Appleman defines the reading context as “the conditions under which the book was read” (36). However, perhaps as you noticed, directly after introducing this idea of reading context, Appleman completely abandons its discussion and does not return to it for the entire chapter. Notice how this is one type of context; you may have also heard of textual context which basically means the overall world that the text and writer inhabited at the time of the text’s creation. In other words, where the textual context focuses on the writer, the reading context focuses on you as the reader.”

Students will recognize the importance of context as it relates to comprehension and interaction of any given text.

Teacher: Number students off 1-4. (there may be a few groups of 5 due to the number of students in the class. Display the following prompts:
Where did you do your reading? Who else was around?
Describe the environment. Was it quiet? Noisy? Hot? Cold?
How did this setting influence your interpretation of the reading?

Teacher: Flicker lights to get everyone's attention.

Teacher: “Because most of us inhabit the same social class, where most likely around the same people types of people, and are all most likely metacognitively aware enough of how we focus to pick the appropriate type of environment (e.g., in terms of in terms of temperature, noise levels, and overall comfort), I would assume that your answers to these questions are all relatively similar. As a result, to best “truly” explore how reading context could possibly influence your interpretation of this story, discuss the following question.”

Teacher: Display / read aloud the following question:
Now, imagine that you are volunteering your time at a poor-urban middle school, and your first time reading this story was aloud in front of a group of underprivileged, inner-city students.
How would / could this setting influence your actual verbal reading of this story?
How would / could this setting influence your final interpretation of the story?


Teacher Note: it would be ideal to touch base with a large group discussion following this portion of the activity, but there may not be enough time for this. However, provided the time, a large group discussion could go as follows:


Large Group Discussion Flicker lights to get everyone’s attention. When group’s attention gathered, display the following prompts:
How crucial was reading context to your interpretation of the text?
How crucial do you feel reading context is in general to interpreting a text?
Why do you think Appleman abandoned her discussion about reading context as soon as she introduced it? Does she think it’s not as important a “variable” to creating meaning as is reader and text characteristics? Why or why not?

Transition:

Students will compose a formula to explain “meaning” in the context of reader response theory and critically evaluate this formula to assess its credibility.

Teacher: “We now have our full equation: reader characteristics plus textual characteristics plus contextual characteristics equals meaning through a reader response theory. We've done a lot of work today and I thank you guys for hanging in there. Sometimes reader response can be pretty complicated, but we've managed to break it down! Good job!”

Full Class Reflection/Closure facilitated by Jen: (10 minutes)

Students will identify reader response as one of the valid lenses used when examining and dissecting literature from a wide variety of genres.

Teacher: “Lets take one more look at this equation: reader characteristics (RC) plus textual characteristics (TC) plus contextual characteristics (CC) equals meaning. Have we accurately summed up meaning?”
What could we be missing?
What role does the author of a text play in reader response theory?
What are the strengths/weaknesses of reader response theory?
Is this a valid lens to use when examining literature?

Closing Remarks:

Teacher: “Today we've examined one of many lenses used to dissect literature. We've examined ourselves as readers and highlighted characteristics that come into play when we are reading a text. Inside that text, we've learned that there are written clues to guide our interpretations of a text. Finally, we've identified characteristics in the context of our reading that could influence us as a reader. Our meaning equation of reader characteristics (RC) plus textual characteristics (TC) plus contextual characteristics (CC) equals meaning will be an important concept that we will come back to often. Thank you for all your hard work today and we'll see you tomorrow!”

Teacher Note: This lesson should be followed up with other lessons describing a variety of lenses used when examining literature (ie. Feminism, Marxism, etc). This lesson is intended to introduce students to the reader response theory, but in no way should this be the only lens presented to students.


Works Cited:
Appleman, Deborah. (2000). Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents. New York: Teachers College Press.
Beach, Richard, Deborah Appleman, Susan Hynds and Jeffrey Willhelm. (2006).
Teaching Literature to Adolescents.New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.