Sunday, September 22, 2013

Collaboration in a High School English Language Arts Class

The best part of my day each day is visiting classrooms. Some days I have "no office" days where I spend a lot of time in and out of classrooms, and some days it may be only during one class period where I get to spend time in classrooms. Spending time observing teaching and learning is second only to when I get to call a parent and brag on their child getting "written up" with a Praise Referral

Friday, one of our new teachers invited me to drop by and see what her students were doing in class that day. While I usually tweet the great things that are going on in our classrooms, I knew I wanted to devote a blog post and share about her lesson that she had designed for that particular day.

This is Mrs. Mann, who teaches ELA to 9th graders

Mrs. Mann told me that the students would be taking a quiz then they would start their activity. I visited another classroom, then went to her classroom. When I arrived, the students were already in the middle of their assignments. 

On the screen at the front of the room, Ms. Mann posted these instructions.

The students were engaged in discussion about The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. Mrs. Mann was walking around the room giving encouragement and periodically letting the students know how much time had passed.

Each group had to organize parts of the story onto this large poster.

The students had been divided into groups, and they each received a diagram on a large poster (above). They also received a baggie that contained strips of paper, each with an excerpt from the story.

For the first part of the challenge, the students had to decide the correct order in which to place the strips onto the large poster. 

Once they completed that part of the challenge, they then had to meet as a group with Mrs. Mann for a Q&A session. Once the group finished the Q&A session, she would check their poster. If the strips were out of order, she would tell them to go back to the drawing board and try again. She would then start with the next group that had finished with their strips and they would move to the Q&A session. 

Mrs. Mann made it a competition to tie in with The Most Dangerous Game, and she had candy for the winners. (It's amazing what high school kids will do for a small piece of candy!)

Mrs. Mann is a new teacher this year, and I'm so proud of the learning that is going on in her room. She constantly asks herself, "What can I do to make this lesson one that will capture my students' attention and help them to learn best?"

While she could have led a whole-class discussion or had students answer questions on a worksheet, she chose to find a way that would be concrete, tactile, collaborative, and challenging.  

What is your favorite part of this lesson?

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