June 2016 - Room 213

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Multi-Genre Projects for Deeper Learning

Multi-Genre Projects Create Opportunities for Real Learning
I began my grade ten class this year with guiding questions: What causes intolerance? How can we learn to be more tolerant? Then after every unit we did, or text we studied, I would have them reflect on what they learned from their reading in terms of these questions.

Multi-genre projects get middle and high school students thinking critically
As we got closer to the end of the semester, I assigned the multi-genre project. They had to explore the topic of tolerance further by reading or viewing other texts, then make a final conclusion to answer the guiding questions. Finally, they had to create multiple texts from three different genres to illustrate their learning.

I was thrilled with the end result. My students came to some very thoughtful conclusions about the causes of intolerance and some amazing suggestions for conquering it.  I was also impressed with the creative ways that they illustrated their learning.

You can see pictures of some of their work here.

Because they had to create texts from three different genres, they had to stretch a little, beyond what they normally have to do when we ask them to write an essay on the topic.  There was much more thought and creativity - and learning - displayed than what I usually see with more traditional assignments.  What I liked most about the project, however, is that it required students to dig deep and think, rather than just regurgitate content from the course. That's always a good thing!

Have you had any success with multi-genre projects?  Leave a comment below:

Learning Stations in the Secondary Classroom

Learning stations in the secondary classes do work
Learning stations are perfect for the secondary classroom!

If you're a follower, you're well aware of my crush on learning stations.  I had never used them until this year, as I hadn't even thought of using them with high school students. However, once I tried them both my students and I were hooked! I made stations for independent reading, revision, grammar, literature study and speaking.  I kept making them and my students kept asking for them.

Learning stations for speaking and listening
I've had a number of people ask me lately if I've blogged about how learning stations work in my classroom, so I thought I'd put together a post with all of the links to those posts.  Here they are:

Have you had success with learning stations in your classroom? Failures? I'd love to hear about it and/or answer any of your questions.



How often do you take time to do things just for fun in your English class?

It's the last week of class for us and my grade tens have been working on a final essay and a multi-genre project. I had a couple of buffer days that I had hoped to use for the poetry scavenger hunt I usually do at the end of the year, but it required a nice day, because they need to walk to the park. We could have done it in the cold and the rain, but I decided to have them act out Oedipus instead.

Now, you might think that reading a very old play for two days, rather than running around a park, doesn't sound like fun, but to my surprise, these kids quite enjoyed it. The whole concept of the play is one that horrifies and captivates them: a guy who killed his father and marries his mother? It's so "gross" that they want to read on to see just how that's going to play out.  I also had old bed sheets and taught them how to make a toga -- that was worth a few laughs. But the other thing is that we were just doing it for fun; there were no marks or assessments involved.  I told them that it was a great idea to know about the basics of Greek tragedy because they will read two Shakespearean tragedies in the coming years; having the background knowledge will only help them better understand those plays. Other than that, I wanted them to just sit back and enjoy as they took turns reading the parts. And they did.

It has me wondering.  Why don't we do this kind of thing more often? We study Pride and Prejudice, and Merchant of Venice in my IB class and I've often thought of taking the time to expose these classics to my other students through the recent movies of these works -- but then I don't because I'm worried about taking the time.  Imagine, though, if we did take the time, if we did focus more on just reading (or viewing) for the sheer enjoyment of it.  I mean, isn't that why most of us pick up a book or watch a movie in real life?

The reality of school, though, is that we need to assess.  Some of you have the great pressure of the standardized test pushing you forward.  Despite this, I think we do our students a disservice when we don't give them time to just enjoy reading -- and writing. My experience with my tens this week has me planning to do more of that next year; I'm already planning some lessons to do with some films of classic literature.  I'll keep you posted on that.

I'd love to know your thoughts on this. Leave a comment below!


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