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Scenario 1: Superficial Predictions and Missed Opportunities

Thirty-six ninth graders enter their English classroom. They notice the change in the physical
environment – there are pictures of the ocean, a large “fish” made of paper, and fishing tackle scattered around the room. One of the windows is covered with paper on which the sea has been drawn. On the board in the front of the classroom is a writing prompt: “Write about a struggle you have had with nature.” Given their usual routine of bellwork, students open their writer’s notebooks and begin writing after fifteen minutes of writing, their teacher holds up a book and reads the title, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952). After a pause, she asks the class, “What do you think this book will be about?” The students look around; Micha raises her hand, “an old guy that goes out to sea?” Javier adds, “maybe it’s about a guy who gets old working out at sea.” The class seems to agree and Ms. James continues. She reads the back cover copy about a man who struggles with nature, who finds himself, and gains a greater understanding of his life. “What do you think now?” she asks the class. Anthony says, “I guess it’s about an old guy who goes out to sea to find himself.” Shawntel agrees with Anthony, but says, “This better not be some fishing story like we had last year. I hated that boring story.” Ms. James starts to read the first few pages. Several paragraphs into the book, she asks, “Now what do you think?” Shawntel, without raising her hand, says, “See I told y’all – boring.” When she finished reading aloud, Ms. James asked the class to discuss their predictions for the next section of the story with their peers. Luis quietly said, “I’m not into this book. I think we’re gonna have to hear about this old guy’s trip.”

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