Monday, 14 January 2013

Critical Literacy

Analyzing a variety of texts over a period of time is one of my favourite things to do with my Grade 4/5 students. I specifically select texts that deal with "meaty" issues because I want discussions that are rich, meaningful and relevant to their lives.

Recently, I read the picture book, My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig. This is an excellent story dealing with the complex nature of bullying.  As I read this story, I was able to pause and share my thinking aloud with students. Students also shared their thoughts, questions and surprises. Sharing our thinking as a whole group allows students to hear multiple viewpoints. They begin to develop a "language of discussion" such as "I agree with", "I am piggybacking on that idea" or "At first I thought, but now I am thinking". These types of experiences will serve them well when they are talking about books in small group book clubs or literature circles.

One group charting their thinking.

Another group selecting passages.
Next, I had students work in small groups analyzing the same text. I typed up the story on the computer and students worked together to select passages that really tugged at their hearts. I instructed them to create a t-chart on a large piece of paper with "Text" on one side and "Reaction" on the other. They cut out these passages and then wrote down all of their thinking beside each passage. 

An example of the thinking from one group.
Students were able to write more critically about what they had read because of the rich discussion that already occurred as a whole class and because of the support of others in their small groups.

We gathered at the carpet again as a whole group so that each small group could present their thinking. 


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