TC: Days Four, Five, Six

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Dec
  • 03
  • 2008

Still working at a slow pace, I used these days to pick out details in stage directions and character traits, always taking notes on the Character Chart and the TC Notes page. I introduced a new assignment, one whose discussion took most of Day Six.

Times And Handouts

We only completed about fifteen minutes of reading each day, but full of me stopping the class and asking clarifying questions: What is the Putnam child named? What happened to her? How is she different than Betty? Who is Hale? What is Parris afraid of? What does Putnam want? What happened to Mrs. Putnam’s babies? Why did Mrs. Putnam knowingly send her daughter to someone who can speak to the dead? What evidence is there that “there is a murdering witch among [them]”? What does Putnam want Parris to do? Why? What is Mary Warren afraid of? What is Abigail telling her? What new bit of info do we get from Betty? How does Abigail react?


  1. If students can get one thing from each paragraph in the narrative section about Thomas Putnam, that should work fine. I spend time on “his vindictive nature,” something Miller uses Putnam’s relative’s failure to become the town minister to demonstrate. The students need to know that Putnam likely has it out for Parris, is willing to go far to get revenge, and will play a large role in what’s to come.
  2. Mrs. Putnam’s motivation for sending her daughter to Tituba needs to become clear. Again, spend some time here.
  3. Make it obvious who Abigail is on stage with right before the John Proctor narrative section. Contrast her behavior there with her behavior with Parris. Draw some conclusions.
  4. We now have a fourth version of what happened last night in the forest. Get it nailed down: what happened last night? What’s going on with Ruth and Betty?
  5. During this time, you will encounter the first quotation on the quotation handout. That means that students have homework, to write about that quotation following the directions at the top of the handout. We discuss this on Day Six (it was a minimum day and we picked up our copies of this play from the bookroom that day, so the discussion took the entire period). The discussion looks like this:
    • In small groups (three to four), share out all responses to last night’s quotation. Take notes, writing down anything new, anything that you hadn’t thought of, anything more detailed than what you wrote.
    • As a class, pick one group to start the discussion. That group focuses on providing the context of the quotation. The last thing that group says is one sentence moving on to what the quotation says about the speaker.
    • The next group picks up on what the quotation says about the speaker, also filling in any details missed about the context.
    • The third group goes into more detail about what this says about the speaker. This group also starts to move us into discussion of how the quotation has some kind of universal appeal.
    • Fourth group, so it’s time to dive deep into the discussion of what Miller is saying about life, people, and the world we live in. This is making the quotation universal.
    • Group five has a chance to develop this universal appeal a bit more, adding more detail and exploring other possible interpretations.
    • Each group that’s left, ask them to tell us something new about either the context, the character, or the universal meaning.

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