Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ideas for ENGLISH in Through A Different Lens

A few weeks ago we met as a group of English teachers that work in Through A Different Lens to share ideas and learn from each other.  There were 10 teachers in middle and secondary school that shared ideas on topics such as teaching novels, parody, characters, ethics, and parts of speech.  There were far too many ideas to share in this blog but there are a few short ones that I’ll write here.

            One teacher shared a strategy she uses for building character.  This can be used for pre-writing or just as beginning to understand who the character in the novel is.  Students can focus on different characters in the same book, or a character in their own book.  This strategy can also be used as a pre-speech idea if the students are talking about themselves.
            Students collect 10 items important to their character – this can be pictures or it can be 3D objects, a class assignment or a homework assignment.  This teacher used the website www.theburninghouse What are 10 items you would want to take with you if your house burned down?  What are 10 items that your character would want to take with them?  Why are those items important to them?  What are the connections?  She suggested the items be put on a white board and then they could write brief explanations about each item.    

Here are examples from the website:

            A number of teachers talked about the use of a value line in class discussions, and how it is interesting to do value lines both pre- and post-.  Pre- helps kids think about the topic, but they may be quite unsure what they think about it at that point.  Post- helps them think about how their thinking might have changed by learning about the topic.
            An adaptation to the value line if students are not quite ready to commit to the whole class, is to put the students in groups of 4 and put a piece of masking tape down on the desk and then use different coloured poker chips.  Students place their poker chip on the line and have an opportunity to talk with others about why they placed it in that spot.

            How do you get students to stop using low-level words in their writing?  One teacher had them list the low level words around a gravestone and then they could refer to it when writing to be sure they did not use those words.

            There is a great website called where you can get templates for making trading cards.  These can be used for developing cards on characters in novels, or non-fiction people in content area subjects, or organisms in science. card creator

            Classroom weeblys, twitter in the classroom, using as a wall for classroom conversations, developing units around interests such as zombies, or playing games such as avalanche when teaching skills.

            Comox School District has put together an amazing website with many ideas for reading and writing.  Have a look.  It is filled with ideas.  Go to Comox School website and look under resources for Literacy.

It was a great morning.  Thanks to all for sharing your ideas so freely.

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