Posted in Collaboration, ELA, English, Project-based learning, Student-led learning, Success

Chapter 17: Beezus and Ramona

My children’s lit class is doing something extremely cool right now.

About once a quarter, the faculty meets with some consultants to work on a curriculum-writing project. Most of the time, I feel the same way about consultants as the late Tupac Shakur felt about Bad Boy Records (as a staff, record label, and as a … crew), but the last meeting led to some fairly productive conversations with my colleagues, including one in which an elementary teacher and I decided it would be cool if the upper elementary classes could learn literary analysis from my children’s-lit students.

I took the idea back to my kids, who were all in. They pored over Common Core objectives, wrote questions, made vocabulary lists, and planned activities corresponding to each chapter of Beverly Cleary’s Beezus and Ramona.

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One of my seniors helps a fourth-grader adjust her Ramona Quimby-style bunny ears at the end of a successful lesson over the first chapter of Beezus and Ramona.

While we were reviewing lesson plans one morning, my superintendent wandered in to ask me something, and the girls showed her what they were working on. She was duly impressed and immediately suggested I give them a copy of Webb’s depth-of-knowledge wheel to guide their planning. I dug out my copy, Xeroxed it, and let the kids have at it.

We started our twice-weekly lessons this week. It was magic.

I didn’t hear the girls ask single question that fell below the analysis level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Everybody had fun doing a silly craft project. And by the time the week was out, the younger kids, led by my girls, had completed a foursquare graphic organizer analyzing the structure, language, background knowledge, and meaning of the text:

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The spelling is a bit wobbly, but look at this analysis of language and structure. JUST LOOK AT IT. From elementary students, led — but definitely not spoon-fed — by high-school seniors. WIN.

Meanwhile, my kids got a good look at what I do and learned a few things about classroom management and differentiated instruction, and everybody seemed to enjoy the lessons.

Next week, the primary grades will be returning the favor: Our first- and second-grade teacher is bringing her kids in to show my students the dioramas they are building. I am delighted. This kind of back-and-forth is exactly what we need.

Emily

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Raised by hippies. Aging and proud of it.

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