Crime and Punishment (novel)

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Linguist92021, Aug 6, 2014.

  1. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Aug 6, 2014

    I wanted to challenge myself and my students to actually read a high school level novel this fall. In alternative ed, most of their reading level is low or barely at grade level, and most students have been given way below grade level reading material to not make it too challenging. I've been sort of guilty of this, but my level and rigor has still been higher than what they had before and now I feel that this is a must.

    However, I didn't get the actual book until almost 2 weeks ago and when I started reading it I got overwhelmed. I knew the topic and what it was about, but what I didn't know was that it's grade 11-12 (not 9-10 as I thought) and that it's twice as thick as I thought. 400 pages with very small and dense print.
    In the first chapter I found 39 vocabulary words that need to be frontloaded.

    Any suggestions of how to do this? I have a basic plan but I'm always looking for more. Some from my own, others from my P, and a lot of activities I got from the Kagan workshop.

    1. I will have the students sit in pairs. This will be new for all of us, and I will need to make sure it will work. They will have a lot of pair activities. In Kagan, some of these are called Rally Robin, Rally Table, Rally Coach, Rally Quiz, etc. I've found a lot I can incorporate instead of having them sit and I call on only a couple. I can't do groups of 4 yet, but my goal is to do that in 2nd semester.

    2. We will have to chunk a lot of the readings. I will have questions up on the board to keep in mind, after we read for a bit, we'll stop to make sure they understood it. After that we'll answer the discussion / comprehension questions (in pairs, then as a class)

    3. We're going to have to go slow with the readings, but that means I might not have enough time for everything. As my P suggested, I might just want to summarize a couple of chapters to them, the ones that are kind of dragging, because I won't have enough time and they might get bored. I actually found the movie in Youtube, what I like is that it's in Russian, with English subtitles. This way instead of reading, we can use that for a few chapters here and there, they will still be reading (subtitles). There are a few versions out there, this one is old, black and white and really gives the feel of the novel.

    4. Because there are a lot of vocabulary words, I won't assess them on all. My main purpose is for them to know them, so the reading will make sense. I don't even think I will have enough time to have them work with just 10 / week and assess them, because by the time we actually cover all the words, we're finished with that chapter and then move on to new words. I do want to have some vocab quizzes but I need to find out how to squeeze that in.

    5. Because we will have a lot of new students coming in (continuously) I will have a running summary on the wall, as well as in the student's folder. We will do character sketches, etc, so I think I will have a hand out for all new students with the essential information.

    6. I did buy a teacher's guide, and a unit plan on TPT (spent toal of $40 but I can get reimbursed), and they definitely have a lot of discussion questions and activities, so I have enough to go on.

    7. The first 3 days we're going to spend on introducing and practicing the Kagan activities, while I introduce some background knowledge. For example we'll do some fun activities with the Russian alphabet so they can get used to the pronunciation, and an activity with how the Russian names are formed, for example how a student named Cristian Mendoza, with the father of Jorge Mendoza will end up as Cristian Jorhovich Mendozov (or Mendozin), and things like that.


    My concern is that the book is very long with a lot of reading, and even if I substitute parts of the movie here and there, the kids might get bored. I also want to use just a few new routines (from Kagan) so they're used to it but what if it becomes too routine?

    Of course I will include probably just 1 essay, but I would really like 2 shorter essays throughout the book. I'm just worried about getting through it in time. We only have 48 minutes in a class. I want to have follow up activities about crimes and judicial systems around the worlds, crime, conscience, punishment, proper punishment, etc. That would be the real fun stuff, because it would be more relevant to their lives, but we have to get through the book first.

    Any suggestions?
     
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  3. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I am not really offering ideas. I just want to comment that I read that book a couple of years ago and loved it. Having said that, it made me physically sick (I would feel nauseous reading it and would have to put it down) and gave me nightmares. No other novel has had that impact on me.
     
  4. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    This is an awesome novel, but it will indeed be a challenge. I have never read it with HS students, but I remember from my own reading of it in college that it was hard to keep track of all the characters since they often have nicknames or different versions of their names, something that apparently comes from the Russian language/culture. So it might help to provide or have students create a chart with all the characters, their relationships, and any nicknames (like a family tree). Other than that, have fun with it! I am sure you can handle it, and I think it's great that you are challenging your students!
     
  5. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Thank you Irene. I plan on having a graphic organizer starting from the beginning and keeping track of the most important characters, including facts, character traits and nicknames. I want to limit this to 5 at the most.

    Luckily I'm familiar with the Russian culture and the language, I can still read and write in Russian, so my knowledge will hopefully enrich their experience.

    I will also teach 1 geography class (students from my English classes) and will cover Russia, this will be a nice enrichment for those students. In that class I plan on bringing in some Russian food and show them Russian music and dances (from Youtube).
    I might do something like that for my English classes, for example in the novel black bread is mentioned (I've had that in Germany), and I'm sure the local Russian store sells it. Maybe I can just bring that with butter and Russian tea? Just to keep their interest :)
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    That might not be a bad thing for my students, if anything, it will make it interesting :) I know, it sounds weird, but at least they will talk about the novel as weird, strange or sick and crazy as opposed to 'boring'.
     
  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    That's great! I think bringing in cultural artifacts (especially food!) is a great idea!
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I took AP English and we read this book my senior year. It is literally the ONLY assignment of my entire school career that I just flat out didn't finish. I hated it that much! I read about half of it and then read extended sparknotes for the rest. We had 9 people in my class and only 2 actually read it- and these were people that were generally obsessed with getting good grades, doing well on all the assignments, etc.
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I just want to add: we're reading this novel in class, there is no home reading assigned.
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I just thought of something: one of the character's name is Marmeladov - 'marmelad' means jam or jelly in Russian. Maybe I can bring in black bread, butter and Russian Jam :) (it will say Marmelad on the jar)
     
  11. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    That doesn´t sound weird at all. In fact, that´s why I say I liked it. Even though it made me sick and uncomfortable, and wasn´t even enjoyable at times, it greatly affected me. Only great writing can do that. I remember my husband even told me to stop reading it because of how sick it was making me, but I couldn´t.
     
  12. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    As long as no one brings in vodka, I say go for it ;)
     
  13. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    I read it in college. I used Cliff Notes and a couple other study guides to help. Yes, I did read the entire novel, just wanted some additional support.

    There are also a couple of film versions, one is Russian that is excellent and accurate to the novel.
     
  14. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I downloaded the Russian movie, it's in 2 parts, 3 hours total. I'm definitely planning on using that in place of the book here and there. I also found an audio book recording on Youtube, I'll use that as well sometimes, other times the students and I will read.

    The more I hear or read about the novel, the more I hear that it was used in college or in AP courses in high school. Definitely not my students' level, but oh well, it's too late to change it. It will be my challenge for this year to make it work (as if I need a challenge lol)
     
  15. GTcub

    GTcub Rookie

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    The Russian word for Jelly or Jam is varenye (варенье). Marmalad means marmalade (notice it's a cognate) and I am a native Russian speaker.
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Haha, well for me, fruit preserve, jam or jelly are about the same thing, because in Hungarian there is only 1 word for that. So when I learned the meaning of Marmalad from our Hungarian native (not Russian native) Russian teacher, she could probably not explain it right, not having enough words.
    :)
     
  17. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Aug 20, 2014

    So this is week 2 and things are interesting. The book is way above their level but we're making it work. I frontload 10 vocabulary words almost every day (that's how many we need to go over), but I'm not expecting them to learn them, just know how to pronounce and get a grasp of the meaning.
    I use the recording for the reading, the reader reads pretty fast, but we got used to it.
    I stop after about a half a page / 1 page and ask questions, clarifying, inferring and in general checking reading comprehension and that they're actually getting the main point.
    I use Class Dojo for participation points, so everyone must at least offer 1 answer / class, and must follow the reading (can't put head down, have book closed, otherwise they lose points). Then in every week they get a participation grade, but this is in lieu of writing down all the answers, like we used to.

    It seems to work. They're at least trying, and not freaking out by the sheer volume of the book and the text complexity. My P must think I'm nuts to expect them to do this high level of book and suggested that I might want to rethink it, but I at least want us to get through the book.
    I will probably substitute several chapters with the movie.

    I had to adjust a lot of things. I started with Kagan techniques, with 1 class it did NOT work, the others tried, bless their hearts but it was very strange for them. Then when we started to novel it all fell apart, and I made the decision to move their chairs back to rows from the partner seating. They all loved it and feel so much better that they're back in their comfort zones.
    Oh well, I've tried something new, didn't work, it's all about making it work one way or another with the students.
    :)
     
  18. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I think it is wonderful that you are providing high expectations for your students and showing them that you believe they can do it. I also think it's important that you are being reflective in your teaching and accepting that you might not be able to everything all at once and make so many changes on them at the same time. Your students will never forget their "crazy" teacher who made them read this "sick" novel that made them think until their heads hurt!
     
  19. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Aug 21, 2014

    Sounds like you are doing an excellent job of scaffolding and "chunking" the tasks. I especially love that you are encouraging them to reach.
     
  20. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    By the way, I just re-read my last sentence and realized it could be taken the wrong way -- I mean that in the best way possible! This will be something they will remember years later. I remember a teacher that had us read T. S. Eliot in 7th grade, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Well, I did turn out to be an English teacher, so maybe that's why!
     
  21. Linguist92021

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    Ms. Irene, don't worry, I didn't take it the wrong way :) There are interesting parts in it, so the book has their attention (the man's daughter is a prostitute and the stepmom encouraged it) I know they will remember it lol
     
  22. Linguist92021

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    Today I've experienced something I haven't really seen before (sadly).
    We were reading the novel, and occasionally I stop to ask clarifying questions, and award participation points via Class Dojo on my phone. I was asking 1 student a question, because he needs to earn some points for a decent grade for this week. He didn't know the answer.
    There were 3 kids standing up, one jumping up and down, with their hands raised, wanting to give me the answer!!
    This might not sound like a lot for a lot of teachers, but at my school, in alternative ed, it's a big deal, especially with this type of reading. I sure haven't seen it before. 2 of the kids are pretty high level, but even then, it's just not their style to be so eager. And the other kid hasn't been in school for a year and a half.
    My heart was melting :)
     
  23. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 28, 2014

    Oh, Linguist, thanks for sharing this!
     
  24. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Aug 29, 2014

    That is awesome Linguist!
     
  25. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    This was my big grin of the morning. What a teacher moment!
     
  26. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    Aug 30, 2014

    Linguist, this is just amazing what you are doing with these kinds of kids! I feel a bit ashamed now never having read Crime and Punishments (my mom immigrated to America when I finished 7th grade in Russia, and f friend of mine told me 9-10th grade is when they used to read this novel in Russia.)

    Wow, you are doing it with your kids which, as I recall, are quite behind academically than the regular 9-10th graders.

    Good luck to you all! I hope you finish it and the kids end up liking the experience
     
  27. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Thank you Anna ! (I didn't see this post until now).


    We are done with the book! We actually watched the movie for most of it, it worked out great. After he committed the crime, we watched the movie all the way to the end, and then read the last 2 chapters when he received his punishment. (so they really have read Crime and Punishment,about 30 % lol, and watched everything in between).

    Strangely they were into the movie, even though it was black and white, in Russian (with subtitles), and had a higher vocab (everything was quoted from the book). They got used used to all the Russian, and by the end most of them used those Russian names like a native :)

    I've learned a lot during this process. Participation points on Class Dojo worked wonderfully for most of the students. (I will probably continue that) I gave them a 5-10 point quiz just about every day to keep them on track and to refresh their memory the next day, then we summarized what we saw (and wrote it down).

    We have 1 week left from the quarter, and we'll spend that with some analysis questions and follow up. I could spend a lot more time with this, and it would be interesting, but it's time to end it.

    The iphone project and Facebook project worked well to break it up, at one point I also had them draw a scene from the movie and explain it. We did some interesting things, like picking out all the interrogation techniques the detective used (pretty must the same ones still used today) and drew difference between then and now (no DNA, no fingerprint analysis) and the kids were into it to find out if he would get caught, what would happen to the characters, etc.

    I guess I turned a lemon into lemonade :)
     
  28. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Oct 2, 2014

    Linguist....
    You.Are.A.Rockstar!!!

    I am so impressed by what you took on and were able to do. You showed these students they are capable of so much more than they ever imagined. You took all the so-called "bad" kids and you worked wonders. I wish I could somehow come see you in action someday!
     
  29. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    amazing, Linguist, what you can do when you have enough enthusiasm and trust in your students!

    keep telling us your inspirational stories!
     
  30. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I love that you kept up with this and made it work. It sounds like it was a learning experience for all parties! Congratulations. Like I have already said, I liked this novel but not because it was so enjoyable...it made me sick, literally, but it was so well written and interesting. Very few novels have that kind of power on the reader and that's what makes the difference.
     
  31. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Thank you! You're being too kind :) You would probably be deeply disappointed if you saw me in action though lol
     
  32. Linguist92021

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    Oct 10, 2014

    Thank you guys :)

    Tomorrow is our last day for the quarter, so we were still doing some activities from the book, but I'm glad to be done with it.
    Yes, I did learn a lot, probably more than the kids.

    I learned a few things I can do with novels, that worked with this one, so it would work with others.

    1. Write an alternative ending. This was great. The kids didn't like that he confessed, so this was their chance to have it end to their satisfaction. I wrote all the characters' names and backtracked a bit, for example, "Svidrigailov hasn't committed suicide yet, but he did overhear him confessing to Sonia", etc.
    They did well, and wrote some interesting endings.

    We analyzed several of the themes of the story, so we did at least figure out why it was written. I was wondering and worrying that by the end they would lose so much interest that the original purpose of doing this would be lost.
    We also had a lot of analysis questions at the end.

    Tomorrow I will have them write a summary of a Part 2 of the book (something short and basic). I was debating between a reflection or a book recommendation, but then decided on part 2. The kids are pretty creative, and these types of writing assignments don't have a right or wrong answer, and they always like that. They're used to being wrong, so when I tell them you cannot be wrong, just in keep inline with the characters, you'll do great - they shine.
     

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