Friday, October 2, 2009

Get them moving to get them thinking!

What a great day the 6th grade Mohawk Boys Read and I had together today! Working with boys is challenging, but it is also fun and energizing if a teacher can keep in mind what a boy needs, cognitively and developmentally. We've been reading and talking about the survival in class. I've been using an excerpt from the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place as an instructional read-aloud. For their guided and independent practice, half the boys are reading Stone Fox and half are reading Call It Courage (though we are considering substituting Tracker as CIC seems to be too difficult for the boys to read silently.)

After reading the first chapter of their guided books, we engaged the boys in a discussion of character traits. The boys were able to come up with adjectives to describe their main characters as well as find evidence in the story to support their decisions. The next day after putting those adjectives on slips of paper, my co-teacher led the boys in a game of charades. They boys had to decide what adjective was being acted out and which character it was attributed to.

The next day, I finished the instructional read-aloud story and they had had an opportunity to watch the author talk about his ordeal. They were very invested in this reading! I had them do a rally table, recording the character traits of Aron Ralston.

Today was exciting as a teacher! I created a triple venn diagram with the three main characters. I recorded all the adjectives the boys had listed for all three characters on sticky notes. In class, each boy got a sticky note. In table groups, they discussed the words and where to place them on the venn. After they were all placed, the boys checked to see if they would change where their classmates had placed words. If they thought a word should be moved, they had to explain why and the original poster could argue why their posting was correct. Watching boys race to pick up a book, find evidence and defend their answers was so cool.

I took their finished venn and created a master on the computer using Class Tools. We will refer back to this venn as we continue in our guided reading groups, moving and adding words as necessary.

There is another site that I am going to use to assess the boys' ability to think about character traits in the next week. At this site the boys can manipulate a double venn diagram by dragging and dropping words where they believe they go. I will also require them to orally explain their evidence for their decisions. That site is called Word Magnets.

This lesson was so motivating for the boys. They were able to be social and to get up and move around. They loved challenging each other's thinking and defending their own answers. The discussions were very high level thinking. They are definitely moving towards proficiency in the learning target of analyzing characters!

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