When we get to this time of year, 4th quarter and the burnout, it can be hard to keep students’ attention. My team likes to do an engaging novel study with a creative project for a final assessment. This year I’d like to try menu options for their work while reading the novel and possible do novel groups instead of a class novel.
Either way, this leads me to my topic. Years ago, many teachers in my school attended Project GLAD training and, since language acquisition is currently a focus implemented by the superintendent, GLAD strategies are on the forefront again. Before we begin a novel unit, we use a modified glad strategy based on Observation Charts.
GLAD Observation Charts
GLAD Observation Charts are a series of pictures (real photographs or artwork relevant as art itself) with paper attached. There can be one picture or a cluster of pictures as seen in this example from the internet. They are a type of anticipatory, inquiry, or building background activity.
The activity is also intended to practice language skills as the partners or small groups discuss what they see in the pictures and then take turns writing their observations on the paper. In the GLAD protocol, students share a pencil in their small group and write an observation, a question, and a comment. They then rotate around the room until they have been to all the charts.
I teach middle school and, as you might imagine, having students write their responses on a shared paper just didn’t work out well. This is why I do a modified version. We call our activity the picture walk and it is similar in the structure and groupings. I usually do about 12-14 posters.
We have our students record their responses in their journals (spirals). They still are in a small group of 2-3 students and they still discuss what they see and notice in the pictures. We like to emphasis the difference between concrete details and inferences so we have students record what they _see_ (tangible details) as well as an inference about the picture or group of pictures. After they are done we have them combine their observations into a one sentence summary and make a prediction about what we will be reading in the novel.
For novel units, pictures are collected based on theme or the historical period. For example we did 50s/60s sports, pop TV, rock’n’roll, and Greaser/Soc related pictures before we read The Outsiders. When we did Out of the Dust we had pictures taken from the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. As we moved from Out of the Dust to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, we kept Great Depression pictures and added pictures that included sharecropping, one-room schoolhouses, and segregation. For Gathering Blue, we focused on the emphasis that art and creativity has in the book. We had pictures of carvings, sculptures, and detailed embroidery.
This is an activity that students really look forward to. Not only does it remind them of things they already know, but it also provides concrete connections for them to build on as we start reading these different texts. They are usually eager to make predictions about what we will be reading, and often they are pretty accurate.
What do you do to get kids engaged and thinking about new novels?
In my non-teacher consumed hours I love to spend time with my husband and son, play board games, sew/craft/quilt, and read (I DO teach ELA).I aspire to be more into fitness and outdoors more often, though I find a comfy chair and a good book/movie mightily appealing.