Friday, 30 September 2016

Let's Debate!

Next week, students will be debating the following question inspired by the film The Little Prince:


Be it resolved that children’s exposure to whimsical ideas should be limited in order to effectively prepare them for adulthood.


Use this graphic organizer to get organized for the debate. MAKE SURE I CAN ACCESS THIS! (Make a copy, change the share settings to “anyone with the link can edit,” and put the link at the top of your journal.)


Students will be debating with a partner, but will NOT know which side they are defending until the day of the debate; students must prepare beforehand to defend both the proposition and the opposition argument!

Students should use the film they just watched The Little Prince (2016) to start with when collecting support for their arguments, as well as other appropriate/related movies, novels, etc. Students may also do some extra research if they wish.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Literature Appreciation a.k.a. LITSPIRATION Meets Short Fiction Part 4: CHARACTERIZATION

DISCUSSION PROMPTS: CHARACTERIZATION, THANK YOU MA'AM, LANGSTON HUGHES, BLUE SUEDE SHOES, AUTHOR'S CHOICES

UP NEXT: Narrative Mode

One of our final mini-lessons on literature analysis was on characterization. We reconfirmed our understanding of important terms (protagonist, antagonist, round/flat, dynamic/static) and learned two new terms, stock character and foil. We will use this knowledge to help us analyze the literature we read this year more carefully, working to understand why the choices an author or creator makes regarding character are important to the development of the narrative and deeper meaning.



To deepen our understanding, and show our knowledge of characterization, we used the short story "Thank You, Ma'am" by Langston Hughes. Superficially, this story is pretty simple, but there is a lot of subtext, and students had to make quite a few inferences to understand the deeper meaning.

The short story, "Thank You Ma'am," can be found here.

A beautiful, influential poet, click the image for information on Langston Hughes.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

RMT Follow-up - Townsite Tours

The view from Connaught Street in the town of Jasper.

After a brief discussion about effective communication (see notes below; more work on that as the year continues :) ), students have been working on finessing the townsite tours they developed while walking around Jasper during the Rocky Mountain Tour last week. Many have decided to develop a printable pamphlet, while others are creating a website for potential tourists. All must include their 10 stops around Jasper that fit in with their original theme. When complete, all 100 students and teachers (and maybe admin?) will have a chance to vote on the top 3 tours after carefully perusing the options. The top 3 tours will then be submitted to Friends of Jasper to be housed either on their website or in their store front for people interested in taking a unique, student-developed tour of Jasper! 

We talked about different areas students should focus on to ensure their tour is polished and communicates effectively.
Connect's campsite in Jasper's Whistler's Campground.

Friday, 16 September 2016

It was the perfect day to read outside!








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Literature Appreciation a.k.a. LITSPIRATION Meets Short Fiction Part 4: THEME

DISCUSSION PROMPTS: THEME, DAY OF THE BUTTERFLY, THEME STATEMENTS, INTERPRETATION, AUTHOR'S CHOICES

UP NEXT: Analyzing Characters

We ended this week exploring the idea of "theme" in literature, and tried our hand at developing and writing theme statements. We learned that theme statements should be universal, culture-less, precise and concise, and apply to multiple texts, not just the one we are exploring. In other words, a theme statement has to be just right, so it's not an easy thing to determine.

After practicing on "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," students recorded a roundtable discussion about possible themes in "Day of the Butterfly." Amongst the two classes, we came up with quite the variety of possible themes:



After some discussion, we came to the conclusion that none of these theme statements fits the story, although some come close. 

Remember, in order to develop an effective theme statement you need to understand the protagonist and the protagonist's struggle, and think carefully about the author's intention for creating the text. It's also important to remember that the theme has to fit the entire story, and there must be evidence for your theme in the text. 



Monday, 12 September 2016

Reading Strategies A.K.A. Talking to the Text (TttT)

DISCUSSION PROMPTS: TALKING TO THE TEXT, READING STRATEGIES, ACTIVE READING, OILSANDS, FEN

UP NEXT: The Twilight Zone X Narrative Mapping & Theme!


Find more information on the Talking to the Text reading strategies here!

In class today, we did a mini-lecture and lesson on some reading strategies we like to call "Talking to the Text." The focus of these strategies is to encourage students to be more aware of what they are doing while they are reading, and to know how to engage in ACTIVE reading. When reading for school, or for work, or even sometimes for pleasure, it's useful to ensure the time we spend reading is as effective as possible.

Enter: Talking to the Text, or TttT for short!

The 7 TttT strategies are:

  • determining importance
  • monitoring understanding
  • making connections
  • questioning
  • making inferences
  • visualizing
  • summarizing

To get a handle on these strategies, students read a current events article, using highlighters to make their use of the reading strategies visible to them, and me!











Saturday, 10 September 2016

Literature Appreciation a.k.a. LITSPIRATION Meets Short Fiction Part 2 & Litspiration Challenge

DISCUSSION PROMPTS: LITSPIRATION, VISUAL REPRESENTATION, ME AS A READER

UP NEXT: HONING OUR LITERARY ANALYSIS SKILLS, AND RE-CONFIRMING OUR ACTIVE READING SKILLS

Our focus for this short week has been on creating. Students were challenged to create a visual representation of themselves as readers in order to complete our first litspiration challenge. Using the assessment tool for guidance, students focused on their intentional choices while working to create a cohesive representation, trying to include symbolism and flex their creative muscles. Students were given a lot of freedom when determining how they would go about making this representation after initially answering some guiding questions as pre-writing, and then having their rough plans approved by me. Using in-class check-ins, and my ability to access their planning in their Google doc journals, I was able to give each student early feedback on their process and remind them to keep the assignment expectations in mind while they let their creativity run wild!

Claire M. decided to create a mixed-medi, non-digital piece.
About 3/4 of the way through, students went through the process of giving peer feedback. Using a modified version of the assessment tool, and after a class discussion about how to provide effective, action-oriented, specific FEEDBACK, pairs had conversations about their creative pieces in order to explain their intentional choices so far. Then, each student took some time to write down some feedback for their peer and identify any strategies for success that might benefit their partner in improving their piece.

Matthew M. used marker to create his visual representation.
This creative piece, and the accompanying explanatory paragraph/recording, is the first post on each student's personal LITSPIRATION BLOG. These blogs will become amazing records of the students' interactions with a variety of texts over the next year, and showcase their learning from, and deep analysis of, these texts. They will be searching for a supportive, interested audience over the next few months which will include their teachers, peers, others in the school, and...who knows? Hopefully you, too!

Sarah G. used digital editing tools to pull together a variety of images she found online.
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Friday, 2 September 2016

Literature Appreciation a.k.a. LITSPIRATION Meets Short Fiction

DISCUSSION PROMPTS: LITSPIRATION, MR. MORRIS LESSMORE, DAY OF THE BUTTERFLY, CRACKER JACK, ALICE MUNRO, SHORT FICTION, SETTING

UP NEXT: Litspiration Challenge 1!

Literature appreciation is an essential component of the English Language Arts curriculum, and for many, life! The Program of Studies insists students explore and analyze a variety of texts, not just written pieces, so we began our LITSPIRATION inquiry this year with a short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. (This is also a picture book, but for once, the movie is better!) This short film is a beautiful examination into how the act of reading is not just important, but essential to a full life. 

A wonderful scene from the short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.








Next we explored the short piece "Day of the Butterfly" by Alice Munro, a short story included in the Sightlines 8 textbook anthology. Many students knew who Munro is, and were aware of her being recently awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.





After reading the short story students were asked to answer some comprehension to give us an understanding of where they are in our ability to analyze literature. Then, we used "Day of the Butterfly" as an exemplar to investigate the literary element "setting," reading closely to find evidence in the text about the "where, "when," and "what" of the story.





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