by Melissa Godinez, 10th grade English teacher
It was a very important week for MYP English 2 literary scholars at Clemente. While other students across the city are preparing for winter break, Sophomore Wildcats were drafting their English 2 unit final. Over the past seven weeks, students have been reading Harper Lee’s inspiring novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Students’ purpose for reading was based on the idea that belief systems are revealed through the communication of our point of view, particularly our core beliefs about race, class, and gender roles. As students read, they examined each character’s personality traits, experiences that impacted their identity, and how they communicated their belief systems. Through their analysis, it was discovered that characters reveal their belief systems in two ways: verbal and nonverbal communication.
The first character students analyzed was Calpurnia. As an African-American living in the Jim Crow era in Alabama, how did she reveal her belief systems and was it effective? Our budding literary scholars engaged in purposeful, intense conversations that focused on these questions. After lots of debate and examination of evidence, some of our scholars pointed out that we cannot call her communication effective until we truly know her core belief. What does she truly believe about people? They dug deep into the root of Calpurnia’s belief system about class by examining only one short passage from the novel. While this was a challenge at first, they understood why analyzing shorted passages would ultimately prepare them for future close reads in AP and IB DP assessments and college papers.
With this purpose in mind, our scholars set out to find one character that they felt most effectively revealed their core beliefs about race, class, and gender roles and revisited the novel for 1-2 page passages to analyze. Now, they are ready to dig into the text to complete their response to literature before going on break! So this week, when most students have visions of sugar plums dancing in the their head, Clemente scholars have textual evidence, belief systems, and To Kill a Mockingbird dancing in theirs!