Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Creative Choice in Lit Circles-English 9

For one of my projects this year, I decided to try Literature Circles as a way to meet a number of learning outcomes. I wanted to give my English 10 students choice in picking a novel, the roles they could play, deadlines, and ways to show their understanding of the book.

Students were exposed to a number of novel choices, and voted on the top choices.  The class ended up covering 7 different novels, with groups ranging from 2-6 members.  Each week, the novel groups met and discussed their novel. 

I also wanted to give students the choice as to how to demonstrate their final understanding of the novel.  Students had one required piece of writing, and then could choose 3 other ways to represent their knowledge of the novel.  One of the most popular choices was to impersonate the characters in the novel.   The students had to choose 5 key aspects that they wanted to show about their character and do a brief write-up as to why they thought those 5 things were important. The idea behind the impersonation was to allow for creativity on the part of the student - but also to raise awareness and interest in the particular book around the school.  Surely students dressing up as characters would cause students, teachers, etc to ask what was going on...and so it would allow the students to discuss their novels.

I was amazed and impressed with the level of excitement and interest that the students took in creating their characters.  Some students spent hours getting their costumes ready (going out and getting supplies, researching with their parents how to make a zombie face, etc).  It was very clear that they put a great deal of thought into how they could best demonstrate key characteristics of their characters...rather than simply doing a worksheet on character traits.I have photos from all seven books – the students did a fabulous job.  Here are a few:

This is a group who read the Hunger Games. They picked things like the obvious survival elements of the story (bow and arrow, packs. face paint), but also made sure to include things like the flames on their outfits to represent the importance of fire to the survival of the characters in the story.
Another student who read "A Long Way Gone" by Ishmael Beah-took the time to make a cutout of Ishmael's face, had a cutout of a machine gun an found a relic in a tape recorder (which was a key part of Ishmael's leaning English).

These two students read "The Boy Who Couldn't Die". One student spent hours researching how to make a realistic zombie face-she made her outfit with kleenex, makeup etc. there was no way that she didn't cause a few people to turn their heads and ask "What is up with that?"

This post is courtesy of Jeff Richert.

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