The Things They Carried: Socratic Circles (Part 1: Before)

As part of our discussion of O’Brien’s novel, we will zoom in on three short stories as well as the take a “whole view” analysis of the novel. Each student will sign up (or be assigned) a short story discussion group. On your discussion day, you’ll gather (for the first time) as a group to discuss the story while the rest of the class listens, observes, and takes notes.

To prepare for your discussion, review your short story in greater detail. Consider this your “second draft” reading. As you reread the story, think about what you see now that you didn’t see before (eye doctor analogy).

Specifically, come to class on your discussion day with notes on the following (they will be extremely helpful during discussion):

  • What did you notice in the reading, both when you first read and upon rereading?
  • What patterns or motifs have you observed?
  • What can you say about the writing in this particular story? POV? Diction? Syntax? Details? Repetition?
  • How does this story relate to others?
  • Support all of the above with specific passages and quotations from the text (you should direct the group to specific passages and reread as needed during your discussion).
  • Generate your own list of questions about this story.

You will not know when your discussion is taking place, so come to class ready to go each day. You may want to review Part 2 in this series (above) for what to do during discussion.

After each discussion day, you must turn in a reflection and notes on the discussion (see Part 3 above).

UPDATE: Sarah B., if you are reading this, you have been assigned the story “On the Rainy River.”

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