Sunday, 3 February 2013

Critical Literacy: Reading and Writing Connections

We continue to discuss and analyze a variety of texts as a whole class, in small groups and individually. I want students to read a text using the "eyes of a reader" - making inferences, making connections or trying to understand a character's actions. I want students to be active readers who share how a text made them feel or what it made them think. I also want them to read stories using the "eyes of a writer"- noticing word choice, thinking about how the writer used details to help paint a picture for the reader, etc. Both of these practices complement each other and go hand in hand. 

Currently, I am using a fantastic book as a read aloud called Wonder by R.J. Palacio. As one of my students has said, "It's the type of book that punches you in the gut." The writing is excellent and students can easily relate and empathize with the main character of this novel. I decided to choose some of the story passages that we already had discussed as a whole class and have pairs of students study them. I purposefully selected passages that would initiate conversation and tug at their hearts. Students worked together to discuss their snippet from two perspectives - as a reader (what were they thinking) and as a writer (what did the author do to make this writing excellent). 

Analyzing pieces of "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio.
Next, I wanted students to use the same process with a different text. I selected the short story, The Party by Pam Munoz Ryan.  This is one of my favourite stories to share with intermediate students. It's about a girl who is left out. She learns from the "flittering of small white envelopes being stuffed into backpacks" that she was not invited to a party. We had read this story earlier on in the year. This time, I decided to give a little section of the story to a pair a students. They analyzed their snippet, charted their thinking and presented their findings with the class. Here are two examples below:

Working through this process using several texts has many benefits. I have noticed such a difference in the quality of discussion in my classroom. Students are better equipped to share their personal opinions during book clubs. Student writing has also improved. Students are beginning to apply what "real authors do" to their own work. 

1 comment:

  1. Hello from New Zealand. I have really enjoyed reading your blog and am also reading 'Wonder' to my class at the moment. I like your ideas so much, I'm planning to incorporate some of them. Thanks for sharing your work.


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