Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A (Novel) Study in Personalization

Providing students with choice not only allows greater personalization in the classroom, but gets students really excited about learning. English and Student Success Centre teacher Kathryn Connelly details how giving Grade 7 students three book options for a recent novel study made a big impact.

At Greenwood, all sections of Grade 7 English meet at the same time in adjacent rooms. We also see this class every day. This method of scheduling in Grade 7 English allows for a great deal of flexibility, which benefits both students and teachers.

Our most recent novel study unit gave us the opportunity to work in flexible groupings based on the individual learner’s interests and needs. Before beginning the unit, each teacher gave a brief introduction of the novels, all by Canadian author Eric Walters: Safe as Houses; Wave; and Shaken. These novels varied in length and difficulty. Students then selected one of the three novels by filling in a preference sheet. Based on both student interest and literacy skills, which were assessed in previous units, the students were grouped.

The English classes were then mixed and regrouped based on which novel the students chose to study. Each teacher took a different novel group.

The individual strengths and needs of each particular group of students determined how the class was taught. Where one class took more time to read and analyze the novel through basic story devices, another class worked on examining and analyzing the novel through real-life examples.

These groupings allowed each student to be stretched to reach their own individual potential, as well as develop a genuine and inquisitive interest about the topic. As a result, all three classes had great success!  

At the end of the unit, student reflections highlighted how happy they were to not only have had the opportunity to explore a novel they were interested in, but happy to have had lessons, activities and assignments that were tailored to meet the strengths and needs of the wide variety of learners in their grade. 

Eric Walters visited Greenwood during this novel study unit to discuss his work with our Grade 7 and 8 students. Read about his visit on our website.

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