Thursday, 25 September 2014

'Of Mice and Men' - 5 ideas to help make the final two years of teaching this text the best

#1 Crowdsourcing
I'm loving the shiny name given to this idea by @EducatingCCC, so am adopting it as my own! This is an idea that could work as starter or plenary, to generate new ideas or consolidate understanding of previous learning.
Simply give students a crowd outline and a question. They then label each figure with the name of someone in the class and their response. The challenge is to make every response different!
#2 Black out analysis
This idea was developed from the fab 'black out poetry' that was circulating on Twitter earlier this year.
Take one collapsed extract from the text. Not sure how to collapse text in Word? Use the 'Replace' tool to turn spaces into ^p i.e. new paragraphs, then reverse!
Then ask students to black out any word that doesn't relate to a particular theme or effect. In this case we were looking at sympathy, but loneliness, violence, dislike etc. could also work. When this is done, they annotate to explain their choices.
I collapse the text to try to get students to think creatively about the connotations of individual words, before considering them in the context of a passage. Clearly, context will change the meaning of some words, but this in itself leads to useful discussion!
#3 Onion analysis
Born of exhaustion from essay writing practice and exploding quotations, this is again inspired by something I saw on Twitter: revision foldables. The idea goes that to encourage close language analysis, students need to appreciate the 'layers of meaning' within a quotation, of which this is a visual representation.
You identify a useful quotation and then print it landscape across the bottom of a page 8-10 times. Staple these together to create a booklet.
Students then select which words/phrases they will analyse, cutting out the others on that page. They write their analysis of this in the space above it. They then repeat this with a new word or phrase on the second page. And then the third... etc.
In theory, flicking through the booklet will reveal closer analysis of the quotation. Does it work? I'll tell you after tomorrow p4!
#4 The least popular word
This one came out of desperately trying to illicit original ideas from a middle ability set, all too keen to have me provide the 'answers' for them.
Pop a quotation up on the projector in a grid like this: 
Give students a post-it and ask them to pick out one word that implies or suggests something about the character/theme. Crucially, if they are the only person to select their word, they receive some sort of reward (for us Vivos). This should encourage them to think more creatively.
The bonus of this is then when they are given individual copies of the grid and can 'steal' the original ideas of the class - a ready-made CA paragraph if ever I saw one!
#5 Evaluation octagon
Ok, so this isn't one strictly for OMAM, but I five is so much more a satisfying idea than four, isn't it?
This one was inspired by the much-loved 3D essay plans created by a brilliant teacher in my Faculty. No one can resist fiddling with a tactile three dimensional object, not least teenagers.
In this version, questions are used as prompts for students to evaluate their work, with greater scaffolding through sentence starters magically revealed if they pick up the octagon.

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