Earlier this year, Salisbury Middle School English Teacher, Mrs. Beth Prokesch developed a project for her students to collaborate and develop friendships with students in Joplin, MO following a devastating tornado.
Read more about the Salisbury/Joplin project in an article that appeared in the March 7, 2012 edition of the Salisbury Press. Thank you to Salisbury Press editor Debbie Galbraith for permission to post this article on the TL2014.org website.
Literature circles allow students to participate in self-directed discussions about literature. In groups of 4-6, students choose a book for their group to read. The students meet daily, setting goals for completion and choosing jobs for discussion.
With Falcon Apps (Google Apps for Education) and laptop computers, every student collaborates outside of class before meeting with their group. Students monitor their group members’ progress, chat to solve problems before the discussion, and guide each other to better contributions in class. The teacher can monitor student work in progress, providing quick and easy feedback to facilitate better preparation for discussions.
The 1:1 access to laptop computers and Falcon Apps has facilitated:
- increased student collaboration.
- more focused and productive group discussions.
- student goal-setting, teamwork, and accountability.
- faster feedback from peers and teachers.
- extended learning beyond the confines of the classroom walls.
- students seeking knowledge from more sources than just the teacher.
During class students view the shared document. They can view a copy of their partner’s work just by pulling it up on their laptop computer, revising and adding or removing information based on the flow of the discussion. The entire discussion process is facilitated through the shared document, and the students’ responses are improved by the ability to quickly edit their work, provide and receive feedback.
Students use the internet to supplement the text by looking up words and concepts, looking for other interpretations of the text by other readers outside the class, reading comments, finding images and video to help visualize and contextualize, and locating examples of literary terms applied to their text (such as metaphors and themes) used by other internet users.
After the completion of the literature circle discussion, students demonstrate comprehension through a project of their choice. Using a shared Falcon Apps document, students sign up for a project choice and regularly update the document with their progress. The freedom to choose a final product has boosted student engagement. Watch this sample literature circle project by Matt D.
- We need to value all kinds of thinking – from “in the box” to “out of the box.”
- Also, our best work as a society comes from the synergy created through collaboration!
You can download a free 4C’s poster – creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication!