It was fitting that my final ELL Reading lesson should be taken from What’s the Big Idea by my long distance mentor, Jim Burke.
I followed Burke’s discussion plan. We held a lively ‘Conversational Roundtable’ on the relationships in Romeo and Juliet as a review for the final exam. The students could easily relate to the relationships: parent-child, romantic, friends and mentor-child. We looked for what rules were common to all the relationships. We discussed the differences. However, the harder question was how these relationships shape our identity. By then the students were getting a little tired, looking forward to their summer break.
I also used question prompts such as:
Does X have a right to …?
Why did Y behave as she/he did?
This is a gallery walk of chat; a great activity to deepen understanding of a text, or as Kelly Gallagher would say, ‘2nd draft reading’. In addition, this task promotes group discussions
I got the idea from Jennifer Gonzalez from the Cult of Pegadogy, a direct approach to student engagement.
My ELLs are in the midst of our ‘text tour’ of a unit on survival. One of the texts is on the survival skills of the cockroach (an idea I got from Jeff Wilhelm). To deepen their understanding of this complex article, I generated a few questions. By the way, I copied several questions from this excellent blog post.
We then reviewed the protocols for respectful group discussions. (I have written about this in more detail in a previous post).
I then simply followed Gonzalez’ clear directions.
Next time, after learning about generating high level questions, the students will come up with their own questions.
“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.
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.
I am always looking for different creative activities that act as a hook for a new novel or text.
I decided to try Dave Stuart Jr’s Pop Up Debate – a form of discussion where each student gets at least one chance to make a claim and support it.
They responded to an essential question about the role of technology in their lives. (We are going to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury). Since this was the first time my ELLs were doing the activity, they had time to think about their answers through todaysmeet – a very user friendly back channeling tool. The students have used this often in class and are familiar with commenting protocols etc.
We then moved on to the Pop Up Debate. Stuart gives excellent directions and I created a document with his guidelines. Students don’t know how to contribute to a formal, academic discussion, so Stuart suggests giving the students certain prompts from They Say/I Say. The ‘debate’ is conducted cordially with the students monitoring who speaks when. Essentially only the student standing may speak.
They really enjoyed the activity and gave positive feedback. The ELLs felt the formal debate gave them practice articulating their ideas in English. They explained that it was interesting listening to other people’s point of view. In fact, they wanted the opportunity to stand up and talk more than twice.