Archive | September, 2016

‘Upgrade U’

26 Sep

Given the success of ‘90 second thesis‘ I decided to create another musical inspired game.  This game is inspired by Beyonce’s song ‘Upgrade U’, and works as follows:

  1. Students dance around the room to Beyonce’s ‘Upgrade U’.
  2. When the music stops students work in pairs to compose a thesis statement that responds to a provided question.
  3. When the teacher yells ‘Upgrade U’ students need to swap thesis statements and upgrade (improve) them.
  4. Improved thesis statements are then discussed as a class.
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Joint Construction

11 Sep

My Year 9 students have been struggling to write clear and coherent paragraphs.  Sometimes their paragraphs read as a laundry list of technique, example and effect.  Other times, they are recounting.  In many instances they are asserting the effect of a language technique rather than explaining how the language used shapes meaning.

I recently worked with a group of students to jointly compose a paragraph.  Before we started, we discussed the essential qualities and structure of a paragraph.  We created a checklist to reflect our knowledge.  We then dissected the question, and discussed the elements of the text necessary to engage with the question.  After this point, we worked together to begin writing.  We wrote on the whiteboard, allowing us to make changes easily.  Once we were happy with a sentence students wrote it in their books.

I found it quite challenging to (a) communicate all elements of my thinking clearly, and (b) to ask sufficiently clear questions for students to bring their knowledge to the task.  I think, however, I eventually got the hang of it.  I found it helpful to shift between open and closed questions, depending on students’ previously demonstrated skill in a particular area.  I also found it useful to refer students to previously created glossaries, and to colour-code elements of our response so that students could visually trace the core argument.  Both my students and I also enjoyed using our ‘workings column’ where we put potentially relevant quotes, techniques and phrases for later reference.  This latter strategy was also a great way of validating and exploring students’ contributions.

Twelve micro-poems

9 Sep

In Twelfth Night, Orsino sends Cesario to woo Olivia  Students struggled to relate to this element of the text and criticised Orsino for not stepping up and declaring his feelings in person.

This precipitated a wider discussion about communication and how, even in the modern-day, we often do not engage directly and in person with others.  For example, we might chat on Facebook or send tweets or like posts on Instagram.

As the end goal in this unit is for students to create a teaser campaign for their own modern adaptation of Twelfth Night, I thought it appropriate to invite my students to experiment with how the wooing of Olivia might take place over social media.  With this in mind, I asked my students to create a series of micro-poems which could be tweeted from Orsino (@DukeO) to Olivia (@LovelyLiv).  Students embraced the challenge, making each word pack a punch.  It was great to see them engage with the need for the micro-poems to flatter Olivia, extol Orsino’s virtues, and persuade Olivia to give Orsino another go.  In fact, if this were real, I think #GiveDukeOAGo would probably have been trending!

Orsino’s soundtrack

7 Sep

At the start of Twelfth Night, Orsino is a bit sad because Olivia is not returning his affection.  In a bid to get students to understand Orsino’s mood, I asked them to work in pairs to create a 10-song playlist that reflected Orsino’s mood and emotions.

It was really interesting to watch my students discussing ideas.  Some students wanted to only include songs that reflected Orsino’s sadness and disappointment.  These students selected a number of melancholy songs as well as some love songs.  Other students picked up on Orsino’s desire to alter his mood, and thus sought to include songs which would help Orsino to take his mind off Olivia.  For these students, a few upbeat songs also found their way into the mix.

I was really pleased with my students’ justifications and the way they tried to get into Orsino’s head and accurately represent his complex emotional state.

Word up!

6 Sep

I had a breakthrough! My Years 8 and 9 kids have finally started using the resources on the walls of my classroom!

Earlier in the year we worked together to create a series of glossaries that helped students to connect ideas/sentences together and also bolstered their analytical vocabulary.

Students have been engaging in independent writing.  During this process, they have been wandering around the room, using the glossaries on the wall to enhance the coherency and sophistication of their writing.

‘See, Think, Wonder and Represent’

1 Sep

I had a lot of success recently using a ‘Hear, Think, Wonder‘ routine (an adaptation of the ‘See, Think, Wonder’ Visible Thinking routine) in one of my classes.  My students really responded well to the stimulus, listening intently and engaging with the language and sounds of the poetry.

With this in mind, I am keen to test drive my latest variation to the tried and tested ‘See, Think, Wonder’ routine.  This time I will be using the routine with a junior class and adding an additional element, represent, as a fourth step in the routine.  The stimulus for this task will be the cover of a novel that students will study.

The first three steps of the routine will play out as per usual: students will list what they see, interpret these elements and note down what they think the text is about and what they think the illustrator is attempting to communicate, and write down all the questions they have.  The final step will require students to give consideration to (a) how they would represent the cover in musical form, and (b) how they would construct a collage to represent the cover of the text.  In relation to (a) students would consider and describe pace, pitch, volume, beat, instruments etc and justify their choices.  In relation to (b) students would consider the materials used with a particular emphasis on the colours and textures needed to replicate/emphasise the key meanings they draw from the cover.

I am hoping that this activity will help students to think critically about representation, providing a perfect lead in for me to discuss the interaction of language, ideas and form in their set text.