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Grade 6 Government Novel Study

Jody Pereverzoff~ Grade 6 Humanities
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.
This year, my humanities partner Tanya Stogre and I wanted to find a way to engage our students in a novel study that provided enrichment and differentiation opportunities. After hearing about the success of the grade 8 Litspiration project, we decided that blogging would be a great medium for our students to reflect and demonstrate their understanding. With the help of the grade 8 Humanities team and a few expert students, the grade 6 blogs were up and running.

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:
Student Exemplar
- This was a very ambitious project for the third term. Students ultimately decided that two books and four projects in one term was an overwhelming amount of work. They were concerned that they would be focused on quantity rather than quality and requested that they focus their time and energy on one book rather than the original two assigned. The were able to articulate what it was they needed to be successful and discussed, as a group, what they could meaningfully and realistically accomplish in the amount of time they had left in the year.

- 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.

Student Exemplar
Student Feedback on Successes:
"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."     

Challenges of this project:
- 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." 
Student Exemplar

Visit our blog space for the project:

1 comment:

Garry McKinnon said...

Jody, you share some great strategies for engaging students in a novel study by providing opportunities for them to blog about their learning experience. Other teachers who are interested in using a similar approach will appreciate your detailed description of the experience and your reflections on challenges and opportunities as well as the student developed rubric and the student exemplars.

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