Saturday, 29 October 2016

Renaissance: Getting Started


UP NEXT: the Italian Renaissance in detail

While searching for some images to include in this post, I came across this fun article. The Renaissance era continues to influence us today! Click the image for the article.
Sacha Goldberger

The Renaissance! 
What pops into your mind when you hear that word? Here's what 8.1 and 8.2 said, initially:

8.2's initial large-group word association
8.1's word association, and then the results of a quick Google/dictionary search on the left

(My word association with "Renaissance," has really changed over the last 7 years. Primarily, I think "outcome" because it is one of the case studies in the Grade 8 Social Studies Program of Studies. This is my fourth time teaching grade 8, and I am really looking forward to the way 8.1 and 8.2 are taking up this work!)

After the word association, we took a look at the Alberta Program of Studies for grade 8 Social Studies and focused in on general outcome 8.2:

This, and our word association, prompted a flurry of follow-up questions, and we really exercised our brains to go beyond the surface, and ended up arriving at some pretty interesting questions such as:

  • If the word means "re-birth" and it refers to a specific era in Earth's history, why did there need to be a "re-birth?"
  • Can we see evidence of the Renaissance today? How is the Renaissance still influencing us today?
  • Were there other Renaissances (other than the Italian Renaissance of the  c.14-16 centuries)?
  • What does the Renaissance have to do with how we understand North America?
  • When did the Renaissance start? When did it end? 
  • What changed during the Renaissance? 
  • How did the Renaissance affect the worldview of the time?

We are now working on answering these and many other questions through research via a PBS documentary called Godfathers of the Renaissance. (While the students identified a few different ways to find out what they don't know (a foundation of good inquiry!), I suggested this documentary as a nice starting point.) While watching the documentary, students are focusing on using 3 Talking to the Text strategies to ensure they are making the most of their viewing: determining importance (finding answers to the questions); questioning (being aware of the new questions that arise as we are learning); monitoring understanding (working on being aware of new vocabulary or concepts that we don't understand).

These questions above, and the many others contained in our class Google docs, are going to help us start to determine where we fit in history by answering the following big ideas:
  • What era are we living in? How do we know we aren't in a Renaissance right now?
Keep reading to see what we decide, and where our inquiry goes...Every day we are asking new questions and answering the old ones!

Friday, 21 October 2016

First Individual Litspiration Post (Journal Entry 10)


UP NEXT: Renaissance X Worldview
Pre-write - Plan - Write/Draft - Edit
After reading and listening to the students during their debates, I was struck by the compelling speeches that were written, and felt that the students' ideas and composition needed to be shared with the world! And, I thought, what a perfect way to re-inforce the steps of the writing/composition process introduced to the students earlier in the year, while also exploring the concept of the "Goldilocks zone" in composition. Like planets, composition has an (admittedly sometimes subjective) area in which it belongs if it is going to thrive. Successful communication need not only be clear, but also compelling, engaging, concise, and precise. In order to get to the Goldilocks zone, students are encouraged to consider carefully the writing process, as well as the intentional choices they make when composing and revising.
Students have been working this whole week on composing these blog posts, and are posting them Monday and Tuesday after some opportunity for peer feedback on Monday morning. They have been encouraged to ensure they come Monday morning with a polished draft ready for feedback, and will have the rest of the class Monday morning to make revisions as they see fit. After final polishing, students will publish their best work to their individual litspiration blogs, and then work on cultivating an audience. Stay tuned for more details on that!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Let's Debate: Part 2

Image from
The debate is tomorrow! Students have been preparing since Friday afternoon, and are in the homestretch. Today they are polishing and practicing their speeches. They are also working on identifying and including some rhetorical devices after exploring Aristotle's model of persuasion today.

Here are some specifics on how to use these devices in your writing:

Click the image for a video on Aristotle's model of persuasion