Today begins the first full week I have with all of my students and my biggest hope is that it’s cooler–last week my room was like a sauna! It lead to a spontaneous outdoor class and an assignment that’s due today. They had to write a fully developed analogy that begins with “Having class outside is like…” The exemplar I gave them started with “Taking a class outside is like taking a toddler to a toy store…” You can grab the assignment here:
Today, with the temperature a little lower, we will get back on track with my “warm up” activities (ha! no intention to be ironic there…) At the beginning of every semester, in both my academic and general twelfth grade classes, I spend several days working on critical thinking and discussion skills. Today we will do my “Rights Balloon Exercise” to help them understand that not everyone sees the world the same way, and then we will start talking about how we make good judgments about things–how do we know when something is “good”? I’ve done full blog posts on each of these lessons. Check them out here.
This week, in these two classes, we will also start using our class blog. I give them articles to read and videos to watch on topics that usually elicit great discussion. They work in groups and have an online discussion about the topic. The first one we will look at is the importance of failure–I want them to be risk takers, and the articles and videos I provide attempt to convince them that failure is not an f-word. Here is one of the videos I use:
If you want the full lesson, you can find it here.
My IB class has already done all of these lessons last year in Pre-IB, but we’re doing another “warm up” activity to get them ready for the analysis we will have to do all year. The biggest focus in IB English is author purpose and technique. In order to dust off the cobwebs that grew in their brains over the summer, I show them one of my favourite movies, Dead Poets Society (bitter sweet this year), and have them analyze the choices the director makes. Once we have viewed the film, I divide them in groups and assign each one a youtube clip from the movie (You can access the clips here). Then, they work on the class blog to discuss the purpose and technique in their assigned clips. They do that for homework, then present their conclusions to the class the next day. It’s lots of fun and they always do a wonderful job. Later, it’s a great reference point when they are struggling with their texts. I can say, remember when you looked at those clips from Dead Poets? The visuals provided by the movie seem to be easier for them to access than verse from Shakespeare. Go figure…
So that’s my week! It’s always one of my favourites as the activities are designed to help us get to know each other as the students work on important critical thinking skills. Let’s just hope it stays cool!