Friday, November 20, 2015

Week 13: The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius (Week of 11/20/2015)


That's right, we time-traveled back to the 1960s this week as we began "The Outsiders", easily my favorite book ever! I'm so lucky that I get to teach it every year.

Instead of me droning on in an effort to introduce my students to the decade and the author, I gave them a mini research project on Monday. Each of their table groups got one facet of the 1960s, researched it Monday and part of Tuesday (turning their research into a Google Slides show as they worked), and then they presented the information back to their classmates who took notes. If you'd like to see their work, head over to my website and look for the Pop Culture Phenomenon (1960s) (click hyperlink to go directly there). There, you'll be able to see each period's work combined into one mega-slideshow. The kids were really into learning about this important decade in American history. Special shout out to Connor in period one who brought in a Diet Pepsi bottle from the 1960s! How interesting!!!

Not only did this research introduce us to the setting of the story, but it started to help us answer our essential question: how are people affected by their environments/settings? We'll be referring to this question a lot as we read the novel and use it to guide our study of characterization. This week, we started working on a character grid where students wrote down physical and character traits for each of the characters we meet. We'll be referring to this grid a lot over the next couple of weeks as we write character development paragraphs, ultimately showing us if the characters are static (don't emotionally change) or dynamic (go through an important emotional change).

We'll also be looking at the vocabulary of "The Outsiders". I've broken the book into six pieces (two-chapter chunks) and students will receive a list of ten words for those two chapters on Monday or Tuesday of that week. Day 1, I read the words to my classes and they repeat them back to me, I give them the part of speech (they write this down), and they listen to the definition and a sample "show-me-you-know" sentence. They then go through their list and rate their knowledge of the word before they've really worked with it. They also define the words. Day 2 is when students write their own "show-me-you-know" sentences and rate their knowledge of the word after they've studied their vocab more in depth. Thursdays are quiz review days, which means we're playing the ever-popular study game, Kahoot! My students are really enjoying this game and don't even realize that they're having fun while they're studying. It's a win-win! Friday's are quiz days. I'm trying a new way of giving quizzes where students match words with definitions and then to a sample sentence on Google Forms. Once they submit their quiz, an extension called "Flubaroo" grades it for them (and me) and emails students back their score with each question noted as correct or incorrect. This instant feedback gives students either a pat on the back for good work or reminds them to spend a little more time studying and asking questions.

I can't wait to continue with this amazing book after Thanksgiving break as we dive deeper into the world of "The Outsiders".

On Monday, we braved the cold outside as we shared our 6-word memoirs. I have 19 students, so I joined in on the fun and shared my own memoir. We did this "gallery walk" in concentric circles with the inner circle facing outward and the outer circle facing inward. Each partnership got two minutes to read their memoir, tell the story behind it, and then repeat with the other partner. The entire activity took 25 glorious, but freezing, minutes and we learned a lot about each other.

Tutorials this week were really great! I'm really loving the work and thought my students are putting into their work as they help their classmates find success. My in-class aide and I get the fun job of checking in on groups and helping when needed. When we're not needed, we join the groups and listen in or ask questions of our own. I learned a lot about what the math, science, and history classes are doing this week!

Questions for the drive home or the dinner table:
-What is your favorite fact about the 1960s that you learned this week?
-How do you think people in the 1960s (and the characters in "The Outsiders") were affected by what was going on in America at that time?
-What do you like about "The Outsiders" so far?
-What work for your Independent Book Project do you plan on doing over Thanksgiving break?

I hope you have a restful Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, and good cheer. We'll be taking a break from the blog next week but will be back in December with more updates. Happy Thanksgiving!
Kevin Laffin

1 comment:

  1. The students definitely enjoy reading "The Outsiders". It's fun to help them draw comparisons between that novel and things we're studying in History. Well done.