Students will create a dialogue between Mr. Kelada and the narrator that doesn’t actually exist in the story Mr. Know All (by W. Somerset Maugham). The timing of this conversation would be immediately after Mr. Kelada stated publicly that he had been mistaken and that Mrs. Ramsey’s pearls were fake – BEFORE the narrator learns the truth at the end of the story.
Using Inquiry, Acknowledgement and Advocacy, the students will learn how to conduct effective conversations that aim at helping them better understand others.
I’ve also developed an extension activity which focuses on the concept of personal identity. It is aimed at more advanced students and for teachers who want to make their students more aware of the use of negotiation processes in daily interactions.
The main activity will teach students how to use Inquiry, Acknowledgement and Advocacy statements when conducting challenging or potentially uncomfortable conversations. Students will utilize these tools in attempting to UNCOVER the characters’ MOTIVES, hence deepening their understanding of this HOTS. Furthermore, since this is a dialogue activity, it will promote direct practice with speaking skills. The will also learn what it means to be an active observer as opposed to a passive one.
The Extension or Alternative Activity is designed to get students to explore the process of negotiation more thoroughly. Using Mr. Kelada’s sense of personal identity, students attempt to develop a shared understanding of the character. The goal is not coming up with an agreed-upon identity, but rather dissecting the negotiation process to understand it more effectively.
Lead-in / Preparation
The students will need to have read the story “Mr. Know All” already, and understand the motives of each character’s behavior before they try to act out those parts.
Each of the students will have the Pathways' lists of Inquiry, Acknowledgement and Advocacy stems.
Copies of the “Observer’s Worksheet” for each student – attached*.
For the Extension or Alternative Activity: a list of words to write or project on the board (provided below).
A student reflection page - attached*
Estimated Class-Time Required
TWO-THREE class sessions (not counting the time it would take to read the story beforehand).
Depending on the level of the class, it should take 45-90 minutes to teach the concepts of Inquiry, Acknowledgement and Advocacy and practice them. Students could use the 'Your Personal Case' worksheet we used in the Summer Institute (attached), analyze a personally difficult conversation they had. Then, using the same conversation, they should also consider what personal traits they projected during that difficult conversation.
Teachers should use a separate period to apply the learning to the dialogue activity described in the next segment.
The Extension or Alternative activity would require a period of its own.
Description of Activities
Once the story has been read and discussed and the class has learned about Inquiry-Acknowledgement-Advocacy, invite two student volunteers to act out a dialogue between Mr. Kelada and the narrator. Be sure that they understand the timing for this conversation – AFTER Mr. Kelada paid Mr. Ramsey $100, but BEFORE Mrs. Ramsey returned the money. In other words, the narrator does not know that Mr. Kelada lied. He still assumes, like everyone else, that the man had painfully admitted to being wrong. Mr. Kelada, on the other hand, knows Mrs. Ramsey’s secret, but what he probably doesn’t know (or realize) is that the narrator doesn’t like him (or why).
Have the students sit facing one another – preferably in the middle of the classroom with their classmates surrounding them. The teacher needs to set the scene (as described above) and provide the actors with “goals” and “limitations” for the conversation. The narrator wants to discuss Mr. Kelada’s annoying behaviors as a “Know All,” without recognizing his own prejudices, and Mr. Kelada needs to maintain Mrs. Ramsey’s secret at all costs while trying to hold onto his identity as an “expert.” The teacher may choose whether to divulge these goals to the whole class or simply to the two actors in the modified Fishbowl activity. Either way, the rest of the students are each given an observation worksheet and instructions for how to fill out the first part of it.
Conduct the Fishbowl dialogue (3-5 minutes).
Ask the rest of the class (the observers), to share one or two examples of comments they heard that fit each of the three conversation elements they learned earlier. If there were none, then discuss why not. (5-7 minutes)
Next, divide the class into smaller groups of four. Have two of the students repeat the modified Fishbowl activity while the other two play the role of the observers and then switch. This time, students will hopefully be even more successful at utilizing the conversation strategies they learned – knowing that the observers are listening for them. (15-20 minutes)
Use the remaining class time to discuss as a full class what happened in the smaller groups. How did the dialogues change the second or third time around? Were there more examples of students using the conversation tools? Did students find the “stems” helpful? Don’t hesitate to return to the story and discuss the implications of having a conversation like this between the characters. How might it have altered the story?
Extension or Alternate Activity
For this particular exercise, we want the students to consider how Mr. Know-All sees himself. What would he say was the word that best defines his own identity? In preparation for this activity, students need to choose one word from a list that reflect typical personal identities (selfish, generous, kind-hearted, stubborn, etc. - see list below). Students could also come up with a word of their own, if they want. They need to write their identity word on a slip of paper along with their names. They then turn these into the teacher. (5 minutes – at the end of a class)
Before the next session, the teacher needs to create small groups (3-4 students), where none of the students in the group has chosen the same identity word. The teacher returns the paper slips to each student, sends each group to a separate space, and gives instructions for each group to work together to choose the one word that they all agree upon which best defines the character. Be careful to NOT use the word "negotiation" in giving the instructions. (5-10 minutes)
Students then conduct their negotiations and attempt to come up with one agreed-upon identity word to describe Mr. Know All. (10 minutes).
Next, the teacher stops the group work and has the students face their attention to the full group, whether or not they successfully completed the task. The real focus of this activity begins at this stage, where the teacher asks the students to reflect on the PROCESS by which they tried to negotiate with one another. The teacher presents a reflection page for the students to fill out individually and then, as a class, they discuss the results. Try to identify how many students utilized negotiation strategies that they have recently learned. How many "gave in?" How many controlled the process? How many shared ideas equally? Etc.
Note that when asking the students to fill out their reflection pages, the teacher should not be focused on their writing skills. The pages are simply tools to help the students think more deeply about the negotiation process with its benefits and challenges. The discussion that ensues from their reflections is the critical piece of this activity. It is up to the teacher whether or not s/he wants to collect the reflection pages.
***Bonus Question: If there are a few minutes remaining, ask the students to return to the list of identity words and, based on their behavior in the negotiation task, choose a word that would describe their own personal “negotiation” identity. Is it a word that surprises them, concerns them, excites them, worries them? Do not ask them to share. Simply give them the "food for thought" concept as they leave the class for the day.
LIST OF “IDENTITY” ADJECTIVES TO DESCRIBE MR. KELADA’S CHARACTER:
manipulative, loser, realistic, reactionary, emotional, well-prepared, eager, creative, well-intentioned, open-minded, confident, assertive, selfish, generous, kind-hearted, stubborn, ambiguous, fair, genuine, persistent, determined, winner, unrealistic, strategic, risk-taker, self-absorbed, arrogant, intelligent, expert, sophisticated, worldly, valuable, important, honest, trustworthy
You may add to this list or allow the students to add their own.
The Reflection Page – Mr. Know All's real Identity – contains the following questions:
- Did your group manage to find a single identity word that worked for everyone?
- If yes, how did you get to that conclusion. Describe your group's negotiation process. What strategies did you use?
- If not, what happened? Describe what prevented the members of your group from successfully negotiating with one another in order to complete the task.
- We've been studying negotiation elements/strategies for the past…. Did you use any of them in your group work? If so, which ones? Were they effective tools? If not, why not?
Key Vocabulary / Phrases
Using the Pathways negotiation vocabulary list….
The list contains words you may give your students to use for the conversation. Feel free to take off any words you believe your students don't know.
At the end of the main activity, collect the worksheets and read the students' answers – the observers pages.
For the Extension/Alternative activity, the reflection pages don’t need to be collected, since you will have conducted an open discussion based on the students’ personal reflections. The discussion will highlight how successful they were (or weren’t) in using the negotiation strategies they had learned. For students who don’t participate in the class discussion, the teacher may either collect their reflection pages or try to hold more personal conversations with them.
Main Activity: Ask the students to state what they have learned about using the conversation tools while playing the role of the observer vs. acting out the dialogue.
You could also ask them to tell you one conversation that they will try to have using these strategies (with a parent, sibling, friend, teacher, boss, neighbor, etc.). Do your best to follow up and see if the students did, in fact, have those conversations and whether or not they utilized the tools.
Extension/Alternative Activity: The activity itself is based on student reflections and the “bonus” question will help them to continue thinking about the concepts.
Good luck. I hope you and your students enjoy these activities and that it offers a meaningful way to engage with literature.
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- January 5, 2020 Last Updated