Daily Objective: Student will be able to identify textual evidence of foreshadowing in chapter three of TKAM.
Today’s goal was to reintroduce the concept of literary foreshadowing using the character of Burris Ewell, or “that dirty kid” as several in my class dubbed him. Instead of instructing the students, I got an excellent lesson in why I should read through a worksheet before I made copies and hand it to the students.
Quick background: Burris Ewell is Bob Ewell, the antagonist’s, son. He comes from a neglectful, poverty-ridden, ill-educated family, and comes to the first day of school each year and then leaves. He ends up making the teacher cry. Scout describes him as,
…the filthiest human I had ever seen. His neck was dark gray, the backs of his hands were rusty, and his fingernails were black deep into the quick. He peered at Miss Caroline from a fist-sized clean space on his face.
The day started poorly when I got into a rather epic battle with the second floor copy machine in an attempt to make 140 copies of said worksheet – that was actually foreshadowing of the future battle with my students, but I was too coffee-deprived to pick up on that.
For every copy that spat out, I had to open three different doors and unjam five other crinkled copies from the Xerox. By 7:40, just ten minutes before class, I had 29 rather crinkly worksheets and 42 pages of recycled jammed paper, the sympathy of four different teachers who came in during my battle desiring to make their own copies, and poptart crumbs down my shirt and, quite possibly, in Tray 4 of the Xerox. To the Spanish department attempting to make copies after me, I’m sorry.
Back in the classroom, we read chapter three aloud doing our audiobook/screen thing, which is still going well. I had to threaten one period that they’d lose the privilege if I caught another kid sleeping, and then they’d have to read the book all by themselves, so they started self-policing.
Tomorrow, one extra sleepy post-lunchtime student will find himself sitting on a masking tape X in the middle of the classroom floor to ensure he doesn’t put his head on his desk; since I already put his name on the masking tape, I’m sure he’ll hear about it from the morning periods well before he gets to English, and I’m hoping he’ll decide to stay awake as a result of peer pressure.
The worksheet I created had four quotes about Burris Ewell that students were supposed to rewrite in their own words, then figure out how Burris might represent his family.
Nothing on the worksheet really had anything to do with foreshadowing, which I didn’t realize until lunchtime when I had a chance to think it through. I spent that better part of my 20 minutes of instructional time teaching them how to rewrite a sentence in their own words, rather than discussing foreshadowing.
On the final question which asked what kind of person Burris was, based on the above quotes, one kids wrote, and I quote, “Burris is an a**$ole.”
While this is technically true, I should have perhaps encouraged the use of more academic language. However, I thought this was so funny and memorable that I shared it with periods six and seven, and lo and behold, I was handed 48 papers that said some variation of “Burris is an a-hole” on them.
SO…not only have I learned to read through my worksheets before I pass them out, if I do think of something particularly memorable, I must not share it unless I truly want them to remember it always. It reminds me of what the bio teacher was telling me last week when she struggled to say “organism” instead of “orgasm.” The kids all remembered that lesson, but all for the wrong reasons…