8 February 2017

Making Connections in Texts

I had a fantastic two lessons with both my Grade 7s today; we were all excited and the light bulb moments popped everywhere!

We are currently studying the novel Skellig (Almond, 2000) and I have written before about using drama to bring to life their understanding of the opening and setting of the novel; now we have moved on to looking at understanding the allusions and symbols used, and how a deep knowledge heightens our appreciation of literature.

We learned about symbols and symbolism in the first unit of the year, and this unit builds upon that knowledge and moves into an understanding also of allusions. We explored the terms and then I assigned ten topics for research to either individual learners or pairs.

I created a blank presentation using a Carnival Slides template on Google Slides and then created a copy for each class. All information from each learner's research will be contained in the one presentation for that particular class.

To model the task requirements, I included definitions of the key terms in the layout style and formatting I wanted learners to adhere to in their presentation.

For example, the Symbolism definition shows that I want text and an image, and demonstrates how to use referencing to cite sources, which is also something we are working on in this unit.

The presentation also included the instructions for the task overall, which is repeated on each individual slide as well.

The next slide had a blank table showing all research topics, which I populated with student names in the class copies.

The following ten slides were for each assigned research team to complete with the required response to each question. As stated, each slide had a particular topic and question for each team and it repeated the task instructions to:
Include from your research to the above:-

- a small amount of interesting and important information to answer the question
- an interesting picture
- MLA references (use EasyBib)

Here is an example of a completed research slide for this topic:
Learners peer assessed each other as presentations were delivered AND made notes on a sheet called MAKING CONNECTIONS, as the Key Concept for this unit is Connections. After each topic, I gave them time to write and then we talked and shared our thoughts about possible connections both between topics and the topics and the novel as a whole.
Learners were buzzing and engaged as they began to see links and ideas forming between the research and their understanding of the novel so far.
It was a dynamic and informative, fun lesson where I learned lots both about the topics and what a great exercise this has been in helping build these essential connections in order for them to fully appreciate the themes of the novel - which is where this is going.
Next up in the unit is a practice essay on symbolism, a formative assignment that will prepare them to delve deeper into a summative piece that explores how literature uses symbols and allusions to create themes. I have found teaching theme a challenging concept, particularly in younger grade levels.
 I think this exercise would transfer well to higher grades and really helps them see how ideas in writing are interconnected and our appreciation of them helps us understand the purpose (a related concept in this unit) of a piece of literature.
View the whole of the unit on the It's a Kind of Magic website for this MYP Language and Literature unit.

Thanks to Mr Hutton and his English Site for the initial idea for this lesson.

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