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Friday, October 30, 2009

Guided inquiry to Teach Theme?

The first lesson I observed was presented by Sarah F.,  English teacher.  One of the challenges all teachers face is how to teach students to how to infer/interpret theme.  During our pre-conference Sarah stated clearly that she believed her students had to be able to connect literature to their own life or it was a meaningless experience for them - so she had devised a plan for them.

Students were given the overall framework of the lesson which consisted of: 
  1.  Students broke into small groups.
  2. Each group received 4 Aesops fables to read.
  3. After reading the fables, each group was to do the following:
    1. using a quote from the fable, state what the theme is
    2. rewrite each theme in modern English
    3. brainstorm and list at least two modern experiences (per fable) that can teach the same lesson as the fable
NEXT Groups were asked to:

  1.  Think about four lessons and the experiences that today can teach us the same lesson
  2.    As a group, decide which theme is most relevant and universal and come up with an argument to prove it
  3. Report and support your decision as we debrief
As students worked, Sarah moved around the room asking clarifying questions and supporting the group process.  Students were held accountable for their interactions as a group, following many of the guidelines outlined for inquiry circles.

__Listen Actively
__Speak Up
__Share the Air and Encourage Others

__Support your Views and Findings
__Show Tolerance and Respect
__ Reflect and Correct

Students moved through this process smoothly.  Groups were heterogeneous.  This is an example of immersion.  Sarah was clear with her students regarding the purposes of this lesson: 1.  reading books this year, would focus on theme and 2.  theme comes from one's life and experiences.  The lesson was a great success.

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