Thursday, July 19, 2007

Jane Eyre, Part III: For Teachers

Following is a sample of unit assignments designed to go along with classroom study of Jane Eyre. These assignments are specifically selected with the high school student in mind, but can easily be adapted to work with middle school and lower-level undergraduate courses as well. Although the assignments are designed as a cohesive unit plan of study, each will also work well on its own.

I. Reading Journal

1. Reading Journal. At the end of each reading session, jot down a few notes on the following questions in your journal*:

  • What did you notice?
  • What did you question?
  • What did you feel?
  • What do you relate to?
  • What do you predict?
  • What did you observe about the writing?
Your answers to these questions will serve as the backbone for class discussions.

*Questions taken from Rockford, 2002

2. Character study. Once you have read the novel, jot down a short response to each of the following questions in your reading journal*:

  • What character(s) do you particularly like? Why?
  • What character(s) do you particularly dislike? Why?
  • Do any of the characters remind you of someone you know?
  • Are you like any character in the novel?
  • What fears or concerns do you have for the characters?
Choose one of your answers and develop it into a well-written, three-page essay. This essay will undergo the writing process and you will read it aloud to the class once it is completed.

*Questions taken from Bushman and Haas, 2006

II. Exploration of the Novel

1. Found Poem. Choose one page from the novel that particularly appeals to you or that holds a deep significance to the story. Create a poem from the text on this page by eliminating words and phrases. Once you have completed your poem, create an image to go along with it and incorporate the poem within the image. Write a paragraph summary that explains what your poem is about, how it connects to the story, and what it means to you personally.

2. Discussion Circle. In your group, each student takes an assigned role: Discussion director, Passage master, Connector or Investigator. Complete a different role for each of the two(three) weeks we spend studying this book. Bring your completed role (2 pages maximum) to class for group discussion. (See below for further explanation of discussion circles, including grading rubric).

3. Web research project. Again working in your discussion group, complete the webquest for this novel(see webquest link below).
Web Quest

Using your webquest research as a starting point, write an 8-10 page research paper exploring some aspect of Victorian life as it relates to Jane Eyre. Be certain to follow MLA guidelines on this paper.


Discussion Circles

At the beginning of the unit, I will assign you to a discussion circle. Each week, you will choose and be responsible for a role in your group (role responsibilities are outlined below). On Mondays, you will meet in small group sessions to discuss the reading, using your role assignments as the basis for the discussion. At the end of the sessions, we will come together as a class to discuss your findings. This will enable you to see a variety of responses to the reading and to clarify your own thinking in preparation for journal and essay writings.

Group roles

Discussion Director: The discussion director is responsible for coming up with four questions based on the reading. One question must deal with a literal aspect of the work in question: character, symbolism, theme, setting, etc. The second question should deal with a more interpretive aspect: what does the author intend for us to see via his/her use of various literary techniques? The final two questions should be application-based: how does the author relate this work to real-world scenarios and events? How is this work still relevant for modern readers? Your questions should be carefully developed in terms of the work you are reading, should help your group members come up with a better understanding of the text, and should indicate your own reading. Write or type your questions and bring them to class on Monday.

Passage Master: The passage master is responsible for identifying four to six passages from the text that you feel are significant to the reading. These passages may reflect key events, provide insight into the characters or themes, or in some other way contribute to the overall importance of the work. Write or type out your passages and bring them to class on Monday.

Connector: The connector is responsible for writing a two-page, personal connection to the work being read. You should discuss a personal reaction to the reading. What personal memory/memories does it bring to mind? How does it relate to other literary works, films, television programs you have encountered? What important social, political or cultural events does it remind you of? Choose one subject for your response. Write or type out your response and bring it to class on Monday.

Investigator: The investigator is responsible for writing a brief report on some aspect of the reading. You can choose to write about the author’s life, a historical figure found in the text, or a topic or issue that is relevant to the work being read. You may gather your findings from books, articles, internet sources, or other sources of credible information. Your report should be no more than two pages long. Write or type out your report and bring it to class on Monday.

Discussion Circle Rubric

Discussion circles will center around the work you bring to class on Monday. Each group member is responsible both for presenting his/her own assignment and for responding to the work of other members of the group. The grading for discussion circles is broken down below:

Role Responsibilities /Scores

Scores : 5 / 4 / 3/2 / 1 / 0

1. Creates a quality role assignment.










2. Responds to each group member’s work.










3. Stays focused and on-task

All of the time

Most of the time

Some of the time

Does not stay on task

4. Contributes to overall understanding of the work

Contributes a great deal

Contributes a lot

Contributes somewhat

Does not contribute

5. Completes assignment on time

Assignment is on time

Does not complete assignment

Total: possible 5 pts. per category:

TOTAL: ______________