After reading the inspirational post on The Learning Spy I decided to give this a go.
My year 10 class are doing Macbeth and this is a challenging play for boys who have not ever done Shakespeare before. We have watched the Polanski version of the film and have collected quotes and created scene summaries. The lesson before this one I gave students each five post-it notes and asked them to write a quote on each. When they had done this, they had to stick them on an appropriate poster named for each of the themes. This took some discussion but certainly showed me that they had an understanding of the ways that the play deals with themes and ideas and an ability to link that knowledge to selected evidence.
It was time to take it a step further. This was a slightly shorter lesson than normal because of a talk they’d attended previously, but there was enough time in 50 minutes to complete the activity and for a short discussion.
I gave students blank hexagon sheets and asked them to choose 6 characters, 4 themes, 6 quotes and 4 plot events. They were to write these on their hexagons. They were then instructed to only join hexagons to others where there was a clear link and the idea was to join as many hexagons as possible. A cluster, with many hexagons together, showed multiple links between ideas, a line, with single links, showed less knowledge of how to connect the ideas.
The boys went at this very animatedly and there was much discussion as I moved around the room, of the links that they were trying to make. Boys were quoting Shakespeare at one another and using these quotes as justification for their point of view. Negotiations were made based on the strength of their arguments. Once they had finished putting these together I asked the groups, who are quite competitive, to choose two hexagons from another group to join to their own. One group refused, as their work was ‘perfect’ as it was and there was much discussion about the fairness of this. I argued that it showed wider links and an ability to add new ideas and they gave it a go. They were able to successfully incorporate the new ideas into their ‘constructed knowledge’ and to synthesise the whole thing. There was some short time for fine-tuning, and some groups worked a bit longer on making the whole ‘beehive’ strong.
This was clearly the most energetic I have seen them and I praised them on their work and told them how much knowledge I had seem demonstrated by this work.
This was definitely a great way of getting them to show their understanding. Kinaesthetic, energising, and great scope for demonstrating multiple connections and synthesis.
There is a web site which I may try, ThinkLink, but from what I observed with my boys, the kinaesthetic option would be better for some classes.
Via Scoop.it – English Classes
This article is about how teachers in many schools in the D.C. area are foregoing empty praise of the “Good job!” variety, in favor of giving students solid information that will do them some real good. That information concerns how their brains work and how their intelligence and skills develop, and it’s knowledge that should be made available to every child in the country. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck conducted the groundbreaking research showing that praise intended to raise young people’s self-esteem can seriously backfire.
This report came through my email just now and I felt I had to comment. Apparently is is revolutionary to teach students to think. The Independent reported on a school in England who were hiring prominent uk thinkers Julian Baggini and Tony Buzan (of Mindmapping fame) to work with their students and teachers, who the head teacher feels are being pressured too much by exams and hence, rote learning, and not doing enough actual thinking.
If we can’t teach students how to think, not what to think, then we’re really in trouble as a society. While not all schools will be able to afford to hire such prominent experts, teaching philosophy would be a good start. This can be done from primary school onwards and is a low cost way of ensuring that our students, and future generations, are thinkers.
This blog here says it all really. Why bother using technology in the classroom? If we can’t get students thinking then there’s not any point to using it.
This is an insightful synopsis of why we should be using technology in the class room. I’ll let you read this instead of repeating it here.
I’ve just finished creating a few more intel tools for the classroom to use with my year 12 English class. There is a new assessment area that allows you to create and print rubrics based on your individual needs and to learn about assessment strategies and use rubrics already created.
I created a visual ranking tool for the year 12s doing Area of Study three, using language to persuade. The issue we’re discussing is dredging so I created this tool with a set of reasons for why we shouldn’t dredge Port Phillip bay. Students then have to rank them in order of importance and add short notes explaining their reasoning. They can then check their reasoning against the other groups and are given a correlation score.
I have also created a Showing Evidence tool for the same issue. Students need to provide evidence for the claim that we should not dredge the bay and then justify their reasons for choosing that particular evidence. This assists them in writing their analysis, as they can evaluate the arguments used and then print out their own arguments and those of the rest of the class.
Students are doing a Point of View piece about a current issue, they were encouraged to do this on the dredging issue, but we also wanted them to do their best and so we thought we should let them choose an issue. It will be interesting to see how many choose the issue that they’re analysing as this will give them a much greater understanding of the issue and should help their analysis to reach the necessary depth. We have very little time on this so students will have to be independent. I wish the VCE year was longer!