I’m in an edmodo group created by the very dedicated ‘high school technology integrator’, Vivienne Tuckerman, called Oz Edmodo. It is such a cool group with educators from across Australia. It’s growing every day – and I should know, I get the constant stream of notifications of new members! In this group people are sharing resources, asking for advice, giving advice and most importantly, sharing stories.
I jumped on to edmodo early this morning to distract myself from thinking about my husband who is going in for surgery today. He has a very badly smashed kneecap – what the emergency nurses refer to as a PFO injury – ‘pissed and fell over’! Anyway, I discovered another new member to Oz Edmodo – yay! He was asking the group for tips on keeping his students engaged with the novel they are reading. Often moving from the class reading of the novel – which all students love if the storyteller/teacher reads in an engaging manner and creates a space of shared imagination (campfire anyone?) – the students disconnect from the story, feeling frustrated by the analytical activities that follow. These often include identifying themes and discussing style. In the worst case scenario this occurs via teacher-centred instruction (campfire) and then student-centred worksheets (cave). There are two super important learning spaces being neglected in this approach – the watering hole and Life.
Below is my response to the teacher’s question ‘Does anyone have any ideas how I might proceed?’ I will add in red the learning spaces each activity requires. I might add aswell, that as I posted this reply I didn’t have project-based learning in my head, but there are clear project-based elements evident in my suggested activities.
Get them to brainstorm themes (THE ‘WHAT’) in groups on a big piece of paper w/ a coloured pen (like blue) then get them to add examples of where this happens (in red) then get them to add quotes (orange). (WATERING HOLE) Get them to present this to class – 30 second presentation. (CAMP FIRE) Then have them select one theme – brainstorm again with group looking at style (THE ‘HOW’) as a group they list all of the ways they think French makes them ‘think, feel or imagine’ things to do with the theme (WATERING HOLE) – list a few on the board as a whole class activity before this stage (characterisation, sentence structure, narrative structure (the framing story), descriptive language, dialogue, setting etc) (CAMP FIRE). Present this to the class – 1 minute presentation. (CAMPFIRE)
Then the ‘project’ is getting them to make a book trailer for youtube to promote the book to a 13-14 year old audience focusing on the theme they have chosen and alluding to 3 elements of French’s style that help convey the theme to the reader. There are heaps of example book trailers on youtube. Just type in book trailer. Show these to the class and get them to generate a rubric (marking criteria) for what I good book trailer does. These become the group ‘goals’. (CAMPFIRE) Give students 1-2 weeks to create their book trailers. (WATERING HOLE) Teach them about copyright – show them the Creative Commons youtube clip. Have students keep a learning journal using the ‘goals, medals, missions’ approach. (CAVE) Kids present trailers to class (or maybe parents and local bookshop owner etc) and post them to youtube. (LIFE) Get them to see how many hits they can get. 50 hits = bad of sweets, edmodo badge, letter to parents, merits etc. Have them compete with themselves, not each other – e.g. ‘I think we can get 500 hits on our video in 2 weeks’ is the challenge not ‘I can get more hits than the other teams.’
Let me know if you need any help with this – I’d love to be in a class where we did a task like this. Last time I taught Hitler’s Daughter my class wrote essays – yucky!!
I have edited the above post slightly adding in more ideas and structure as they came to me through re-reading.
I am so excited that i get to teach Year 7 next year. I’m doing this project for sure. Oh, and I kind already did so I will add my students’ book trailers below when I return from the hospital tonight.
Here’s the most popular book trailer on youtube: