I had read the book by Mark Haddon when it was first published in 2003 and went to see the powerful award-winning play in London last year. I was inspired.
I have read so many studies of how students are feeling less and less empathetic. What a great chance to raise the students’ awareness of other people’s views of the world, of those who are “different, not less” (Temple Grandin).
One of my favorite activities is the gallery walk because the students have to move and think. They are all engaged. So I decided to use this strategy to “frontload” ( a term coined by Jeff Wilhelm in one of his oh so teacher friendly resource books Action Strategies for Deepening Comprehension) . In small groups, the students walked around the classroom, responding in words and images to 4 significant quotations written on poster paper. In analyzing the quotes, the students predicted the attributes of the main character as well as the themes and conflicts that may emerge. Once the groups responded to all the quotes, they returned to their original prompt. Each group synthesized the main ideas of the final quote, and reported out to the rest of the class. We then held a general discussion.
The second activity was a drama workshop where the students practiced non verbal communication. After a few exercises, the drama instructor divided the students into small groups. Two of the groups presented a short scene highlighting conflicts that arise at home through lack of communication. One group enacted a scene from the novel.