This week, my teacher partner Gina (@_missginab) and I, decided to get creative. On the weekend, we came across an article in The National Post about Gangnum Style: the song that our students cannot stop singing and dancing to. This article prompted us to search for other articles on this popular song, and we actually found quite a few. We narrowed our collection down to three articles, and we created a media literacy and critical literacy activity that would allow the students to analyse the articles and explore the key themes.
I’ll admit that we wondered if we were expecting too much from our Grade 6′s. These articles are in-depth ones with some challenging vocabulary and ideas. We figured though that the topic is one that highly interests the students, and as Debbie Miller has mentioned before, sometimes students can read and comprehend beyond their independent reading level depending on the topic. If need be, we would support the individual groups of students with more focused discussion and some background knowledge.
There was no need to worry though! The students were thrilled to read these articles, and used group discussion time to clarify ideas, make connections to the text, and infer deeper meaning.
While we were pleased with the discussions, the great part was that the students could take information from these discussions and use it during their follow-up writing activity. Here is just a small selection of student work from our class blog:
Students then took what they learned from the articles to create a drawing/poster, which acted as a visual representation of the main ideas from the text. Many of these drawings are on our class blog, but here are a few of them as well:
It’s great to see students showing what they’ve learned in multiple ways. This project wasn’t an easy one, but the students were actively engaged and working hard throughout the multi-day activity. I think of the student-directed learning often discussed as part of the new Full Day Kindergarten Program, and looking at the results of this activity, I definitely see the value in appealing to student interests.
This same quality work was seen during our Order of Operations/Media Literacy Project. Students worked individually or in small groups to create a media text showing their understanding of order of operations. The completed media works are all posted on our class blog, but here are some of them as well:
Our focus in Grade 6 is to increase communication in math, and I think these work samples show how much the students have already improved in this area. My teaching partner and I could have assigned textbook questions and problems to review this skill, but would this approach have allowed us to see the understanding of the material that we got from this assignment instead?
Giving choice, allowing for collaboration, and providing engaging, open-ended activities, resulted in students really showing us what they know. We will definitely be doing this again. How do you make curriculum content exciting and relevant for students? I would love to hear your ideas!