Homework Poster Presentations

A lot is being written about the value of assigning homework.

I explain the assignment (usually a first draft reading), and make sure my ELLs have everything they need in order to successfully complete it.  I often tell them how much time they should set aside in order to compete the task.  Next lesson, the students deepen their understanding by sharing their ideas in the form of chat stations, guided discussions or answer an open question using a backchannel such as TodaysMeet.

We are going to read A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah;  and  in order to give the students background knowledge, I assigned an Upfront article on child soldiers.  The goal of the reading was to notice big ideas and confusions.

This time I tried one of Larry Ferlazzo’s TOK homework presentations.  In class I grouped the students, and each group had to clarify one section of the text by designing a thought-provoking poster using each other’s notes.

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Then each student in the group was responsible for deepening their peers’ understanding by presenting her/his poster.  The goal of the presenter was to infer, question, and add to their “first draft” knowledge.

The students collaborated well, produced interesting posters and some insight.  The audience, for their part, had to generate high level questions.

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Needless to say, this was a great way for me to check their understanding as well as their ability to go beyond the text. However, we need to continue practicing crafting high level questions.

I will be using more of Ferlazzo’s homework presentations and hope they will engage my students as much as this one.

Fahrenheit 451: Censorship #1

“It was a pleasure to burn”.

That’s how Ray Bradbury opens his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451.

Ilana, our librarian,  designed an interactive presentation to provide my ELLs with background knowledge to help them make sense of one of the central themes in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.  

She began by showing the students a powerful video.

After a class discussion about the big ideas in the video,  Ilana continued with the main activity.  She had selected several books that had either been banned or challenged.  On the table were strips of paper with the reasons for the challenge.  Each student selected a few books and tried to match them with the reasons by reading the blurbs.

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The students were intrigued by the various reasons given for banning or challenging books.  They were surprised that books they loved as kids such as Winnie the Poo, Where’s Waldo or Where the Wild Things Are, had been challenged.  Banning Orwell’s 1984 made more sense.  In the first follow up discussion, one student remarked that perhaps a government should control what people read in order to prevent them from getting strange ideas that might harm themselves and others.  “What about Mein Kampf?” he asked. Our conversation moved on to freedom and personal safety.

This discussion will be continued next week when Ilana reads a recently published children’s book that has been challenged.

I am looking forward to the ‘ahah’ moments.