Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Speed dating

This is my adaptation of the popular speed dating activity for the classroom. (Just search for the term and you'll find plenty of information.) My idea originated with a video on the Teaching Channel website. The video shows a creative way of using paint chips to encourage the use of new vocabulary in class discussions. I took speed dating and paint chips and came up with the following activity to review concepts in 1984:

I developed groups of questions around important concepts in the novel. The questions were of varying levels of difficulty, covering the range of Bloom's taxonomy. On paint chips (I used Olympus chips with three colors, but you can use any brand*), I arranged three questions in increasing order of difficulty. Here's a snapshot of what the cards looked like:

(For some cards, I cheated and had only two levels because I couldn't think of a synthesis or evaluation question. That's something to work on for next year.)

I arranged the desks into two concentric circles with the outside circle facing the inner circle. (I have 24 students in the class, so the pairing worked out evenly. I only had to create 12 cards.) The inner circle stayed put, and the outer circle rotated at the end of each round. To start, each pair was given a card to discuss for 4 minutes; as they answered the questions and talked about the topic, they took notes about how knowledgeable their partners were and what new insight they gained from the discussion. At the end of the round, the outer circle moved one seat clockwise, and the inner circle passed the card one seat counterclockwise. This ensured that the both partners in the new pair would get new questions. They continue in this way until the 6th round--it gets tricky here because the outer circle will get around to a card they've already seen. I just had the inner circle pass one more time, which seemed to get them back on track with new cards.

At the end of the activity, I asked students to review the notes they took and fill out a ballot telling me who would be their "ideal date"--e.g. who was the most knowledgeable and provided you with the most new insight. We went over all of the questions as a class. The students turned in their notes at the end. I looked over the notes to see if there was any misinformation; otherwise, I gave them credit for participating and taking notes.

Reflection: The students said this activity was really helpful because they got to share their ideas in a safe environment. The quiet ones did not feel intimidated because they only had to share with one person at a time, and the dominant speakers had to learn to share the time with their partners. They enjoyed being able to discuss more intimately with classmates they normally didn't talk to.

If you try this, please let me know how it goes!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

World War II Evacuations

Help students build background knowledge for the novel Lord of the Flies by investigating the evacuations from Britain during World War II. The knowledge they acquire will help them understand the setting and the boys' situation and also explain the plausibility (maybe?) of the ending.

The WebQuest directs students to examine primary source documents to learn about the evacuation procedures and the effect on children involved.

Students can access the WebQuest here. If you have your students complete the WebQuest, please let me know how it worked!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Odyssey Lessons

Use these activities in your study of The Odyssey.

1. Create Your Own Monster: This activity requires students to consider the significance of the Cyclops's character--i.e. what facet of humanity does he represent? From this, students create their own monster to reflect characteristics of humans in modern society. The characterization students write must demonstrate thoughtful analysis.

Click here to view and download the file.

2. Travel Brochure: This activity assesses students' ability to process details and demonstrate persuasive writing skills. Students design travel brochures for one of the places Odysseus stops on his journey; the brochure must include details about the location (geography, climate, plant/animal life, inhabitants, points of interest, accommodations, etc.) and use persuasive language to make it seem attractive.

Click here to view and download the file.

Lord of the Flies Lessons

Use these lessons for your study of Lord of the Flies. All page references for Perigree/Penguin paperback edition.

1. Chapter 5 Symbolism: Students use a passage from the novel (pp. 77-78) to draw and analyze the organization of the platform. They examine the significance of the shape and organization of the meeting space. Click here to view and download the file.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Loving Story

This story is particularly meaningful to me, as I am married to someone outside of my race.

This is a great piece of history to include in a study of African American history. Introduce the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the interracial couple who helped strike down laws against miscegenation. (All links will open new windows to external sites.)

News & history:


For Teachers:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Books and Media to Share

Here are some books and media I think you should recommend to your students. Enjoy! [This list will be updated.]

General Fiction
  • The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
  • The Alchemist by Paolo Cuelho
  • Boy Meets Boy by David Levitan (any of his novels!)
  • The Realm of Possibility by David Levitan
  • Are We There Yet? by David Levitan
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (trilogy)
  • Soldier X by Don Wulffson
  • The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Graphic Novels
  • American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • Maus and Maus II by Art Spiegelman

  • You Can Get Arrested for That: 2 Guys, 25 Dumb Laws, and 1 Absurd American Crime Spree by Rich Smith
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Sloot
  • The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins
  • Overachievers by Alexandra Robbins
  • Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
  • Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas
  • Little Princes by Conor Grennan
  • Join Me! by Danny Wallace - learn more about the movement here
  • The History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

Film & Media
  • God Grew Tired of Us (National Geographic Films) - the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan