Giving Connecting a 2nd Attempt

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We had the greatest time in Literacy this morning – even though it did end up looking like the 3M Post-it Note Factory may have puked on our classroom floor (sorry for the comparison – I couldn’t resist!).

The learning actually began (and got stuck) yesterday morning. Students were working on the Connector role for Literature Circles. We’d started it on Monday with a look at the Exemplar (they seemed keen) and then continued yesterday with a shared/paired follow-up. I thought they’d be making crazy, amazing, out-of-this world (ahemm, text!) connections to our read-aloud (Everest by Gordon Korman) because almost every student has been thoroughly enjoying the book! BUT, that wasn’t the case! Many of them said they had no connections, asked for help connecting or quietly muddled through just trying to connect. I was really surprised and didn’t know what to think about it at the time. When I started planning last night I knew I had to go back and give them another opportunity to connect.

Using the whiteboards, I thought of 6 points (from Everest) that they may connect to (3 characters, 1 event, and two themes). This morning, students rotated through the 6 whiteboards writing down all the things they could remember for those 6 topics. Using the online stopwatch, this was pretty efficient. After that, we met in a circle around the whiteboards. Everyone had 5 post-it notes and a pen, I had a sudden terror that maybe this wouldn’t work! 🙂

But it did! I asked a series of questions related to each topic and they jotted down connections and posted them to the appropriate whiteboard. It was a connection-rainstorm! A connection-TORNADO! 🙂

After all that connecting, we had to reflect on our learning. Meeting in the circle again, I asked the students “what was different for your brain between yesterday and today?” Their responses were really intuitive. One of the students said, “when you were asking us questions, I could think of more paths from the novel to my connections.” Another student (and several agreed) told the group that, “when I can say my ideas out loud then they make more sense to me”. A whole bunch of them agreed that having the 6 topics from the novel helped them realize what they could connect to (one student noted “having to connect to the whole novel was too much”. There was a lot of great sharing about how this helped them to make connections.

After that we took a whole group photo because (a) they made so many connections, it should be recorded and (b) they’re just so awesome!

Tomorrow, we’re going to look at how to put these connections into a written response. I’m expecting great things (even if it does take us two or more tries!). 🙂

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