One of the most meaningful experiences I had this year was when a student came up to me to discuss a quote he found in his novel, The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. He was curious to find out more about the Burqa and whether or not wearing it took away ones equality and freedom of choice. He took it upon himself to dig further and seek multiple perspectives on this topic so that he could communicate these perspectives on his blog. Seeing this level of engagement and curiosity in my students made me excited to share our grade 6 Novel Study on the ConnectBlog.
Ultimately, we wanted students to be able to recognize and communicate the similarities and differences between social and political structure in the novels and our world today using the 4 pillars of democracy. We also wanted students to choose a book that challenged and engaged them so that they would be invested in the blogging experience.
One of the ways we tried to cultivate motivation and engagement was through novel and project choice. Assignment PDF
Here is the student created rubric: (click to enlarge)
Successes of this project:
- Each student found at least one book that they really enjoyed reading. Students appreciated the freedom to choose their book(s) based on interest and reading level.
- Students were able to support each other because each book had multiple readers. Because of this, many even created their own book talks in order to gain stronger understanding of the ideas and themes in the novel.
- The blog was a great way to get the students reflecting and documenting their understanding.
- This project allowed for more one-on-one time with each student.
"I like that it was an Individual study instead of a literature circle. This was great because you could read at your own pace."
"I liked how we were allowed to share feedback and brainstorm ideas with a small group."
"I liked that I had a choice in how I showed my understanding and what book I chose to read."
- Making sure students were moving forward with evidence of the 4 pillars and their understanding of the text and not getting caught up on the project element of the assignment.
-More challenging to monitor progress of each individual student.
-Each final project was so different, it was important to continuously go back to what it was we wanted learn from this project in order to asses their work.
Student Feedback on Challenges:
"Finding strong specific examples on the pillars"
"Some of them were just not present as much as I thought they would be. I ended up spending a lot of time on this."
"Thinking about a creative way to present understanding was difficult. We get to choose how we share a knowledge for a lot of projects, so coming up with something new was hard."
"It could be difficult to read and write the blog at the same time. It was really time consuming, but it allowed you to look back at your thoughts and ideas."
Visit our blog space for the project: http://grade6novelstudy.blogspot.ca/