Series: Inquiry-Based Teaching

ELA.RL.9-10.3

Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RL:  Reading Standards for Literature 6-\x80\x9312
  • 9-10:  9th & 10th Grades
  • 3: 
    Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting
    motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters,
    and advance the plot or develop the theme.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Inquiry-Based Teaching: Discussing Fiction Texts
Lesson Objective: Facilitate rich discussions about fictional texts
Grades 9-12 / ELA / Discussion
ELA.RL.9-10.3

Thought starters

  1. How does the discussion reflect the conflict in Humbert's character?
  2. What strategies does Ms. Kosoff use to challenge students' thinking?
  3. How does Ms. Kosoff present ideas so that students form their own opinions, considering evidence and the perspectives of others?
6 Comments
THIS IS AMAZING! The students are thinking, engaged and actively reading the text rather then just riding the coat tails of their classmates.
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It strike me to plan short discussion for my grades 5,6 students on social studies topics
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Good ideas for fiction.
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My goodness!! I found this video encouraging even though the students are older. I believe that all students are interested in sharing their ideas if teachers are willing to open the door for them to do so.
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I like the "seminar feel" to the discussion. I like your point about the teacher needing to over prepare for the discussion to keep the ideas and questions flowing without directing them.
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Transcripts

  • 00:00:03;23

    00:00:31;05

    00:00:59;22

    00:01:35;09

    00:02:11;27

    00:02:37;06

    00:03:01;28

    00:03:28;00

    00:04:00;11

    00:04:33;22

    00:05:06;04

    00:05:33;02 WNET / UCH Urban Academy
    “Exploring Powerful Ideas Inquiry-Based Teaching: Discussing Fiction”
    Lolita 6 min

    STUDENT:
    Can I please say

    00:00:03;23

    00:00:31;05

    00:00:59;22

    00:01:35;09

    00:02:11;27

    00:02:37;06

    00:03:01;28

    00:03:28;00

    00:04:00;11

    00:04:33;22

    00:05:06;04

    00:05:33;02 WNET / UCH Urban Academy
    “Exploring Powerful Ideas Inquiry-Based Teaching: Discussing Fiction”
    Lolita 6 min

    STUDENT:
    Can I please say something?

    SHEILA:
    Yes. This is actually your turn now.

    STUDENT:
    She’s dominating him.

    SHEILA:
    What do you guys think of that, that he sees her as a pet?
    (interview)
    My name is Sheila Kosoff. I teach literature. I’ve been teaching literature about almost seven years here at Urban Academy.
    (in class)
    Hi!
    (interview)
    This semester, the course I’m teaching is Psych Lit. we are focusing on the text Lolita by Nabokov.
    (in class)
    Alright. So you guys just read part two, what do you think so far, what are your thoughts? Yes? James?

    JAMES:
    As it goes on, we see a lot less of him trying to seduce the audience with his language and we see a lot more of his insecurity coming through.

    SHEILA:
    So James is saying that he’s not trying to seduce us anymore. Do you guys agree? Do you think it’s over? Do you think the romance is over between us and Humbert?
    (interview)
    In setting up the course, I was thinking that we would look at this character that’s seductive but is doing really vile things and thinking about how the psychology of the character plays out in the text.

    LANGSTON:
    I think you see desperate side of Humbert. I think it’s like, it’s much more… It’s no longer the romanticized kind of relationship he’s having with Lolita. It’s more like him being very possessive and trying to keep Lolita.

    SHEILA:
    Okay. Lee?
    LEE:
    I agree with Langston and I feel like a big part in our perception of Humbert changing is that he kind of embraces the fact that he’s crazy instead of trying to like, I don’t know, you know, take away from that idea. He says, “Yes. I’m a madman”. I’m crazy and he has this sort of desperation and he’s really frantic with the way he acts around Lolita and acts towards her as well.

    SHEILA:
    (interview)
    I teach literature here using the inquiry method that was developed by Urban Academy. Inquiry is very student driven, very student centered so I can have an idea of where I want them to go, of what I want them to do but I don’t want to come out and say it because if I say it then it becomes a very passive experience for the students. It’s quite similar to the way you run a seminar in college where you sit around a table and have a discussion, where everything is discussion based. It’s very easy, I find, to teach literature that way because you can get into the text and there’s no right or wrong answers and kids can take chances.

    STUDENT:
    When you see someone going, like, if you ever watch the Nature Channel, seeing a lion hunt its prey like its exciting as the tension builds up but then its after, it’s not as exciting anymore.

    SHEILA:
    Alright so you’re kind of tapping to the fact that he’s a predator.

    STUDENT:
    Right. He’s a complete predator.

    SHEILA:
    Yeah, the hunt is exciting. Okay, so you think he’s the prey.
    (interview)
    One of the things with inquiry that you have to do is you have to over-prepare. You have no idea where its gonna go in terms of conversation since its student-driven. So I have to read the text, underline things. I pick out passages I think will help them think about what they’re saying, not to change their mind but just to get them to deepen what they’re saying and to look at this other evidence.
    (in class)
    And you guys think she’s in control right? Go ahead.
    ALISHA:
    I am not a criminal sexual psychopath taking indecent liberties with a child.

    SHEILA:
    Is that true?

    CLASS:
    No. No. Definitely no.

    STUDENT:
    No but she’s going after him. He’s not doing anything wrong.

    SHEILA:
    That’s what he’s telling you. Alright, continue.
    (interview)
    I feel like I’m constantly providing them with ideas to wrestle with. Here’s an idea. What do you think of this idea? When I first starting teaching, that was the hardest thing to learn in Inquiry. Like how to not direct the students in a way where you think- Oh well, this is completely wrong. This is what’s really happening. Because what’s important is that they learn to hear each other, they learn to process and they learn to look at the evidence that is presented and think about it.
    I think in the beginning it was just a dream. He didn’t really think he would be able to get Lolita. And once he got her, he kind of woke up and was like, “Okay, now I have to figure out how to cover myself because I can get in trouble for this”.

    SHEILA:
    Nice point.
    (interview)
    It’s the student’s education. It’s the students reading the books. So a student has to take responsibility I think and be an active member in the discussion and even if they don’t speak but to participate by listening, by watching what other people are saying, by taking notes. It’s really about getting them to think and to talk and to feel comfortable being, you know, assertive about anything that comes up in the text and to feel comfortable with a book like Lolita.

    MEGAN:
    I think its just all part of Humberts manipulation to try to make the reader think that he doesn’t have control over the situation. He can’t control that he loves Lolita. Um, when in actuality, he is just completely possessive over her.

    SHEILA:
    Okay, Lee?
    LEE:
    I would say it’s really, really- I think it’s really important to remember that this is Humbert’s story. I have no idea if his perception of things is what actually happened. I feel like putting the blame on Lolita is kind of rude because like you this is all just his story or a crazy persons story. Like a psycho’s idea of like his, you know, love for Lolita.
    (music fades in)

    SHEILA:
    Class is over. Tomorrow we’re going to continue and we’re gonna look at psychopaths and determine whether or not he is one or something else.

    LANGSTON:
    (interview)
    Here at Urban, it’s much easier to stay engaged because you’re open to sharing your ideas and putting out your own viewpoints and be able to debate them and not have a teacher kind of shut you down.

    JAMES:
    (interview)
    That’s what’s so great about being able to discuss your own ideas because you can say what your interpretation is and that is very important in coming to be able to think critically about a text.
    SUHLIAH:
    (interview)
    If it was like it was in my old school where they just gave us the book to read, I would have no interest in the book at all. I would probably wouldn’t read it. I would probably go on the internet and see what other people said about it but here it’s like I wanna understand why he is the way he is and I think everybody finds a little bit of something that they’re interested in when we analyze it this way.
    * * *END OF AUDIO* * *
    * * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *

School Details

Urban Academy Laboratory High School
317 East 67th Street
New York NY 10065
Population: 154

Data Provided By:

greatschools

Teachers

Sheila Kosoff

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Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Collaboration

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Planning

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Engagement

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12 / ELA / Tch DIY