A few years ago I had a wonderful student teacher who collaborated with me on unit about success.
This unit proved to be valuable because it gave the students diverse opportunities to use language for social and academic reasons. It also gave them a chance to consider their own definitions of success and research people who they considered to be successful.
We launched the unit with an inspiring TED talk by Philippe Petit. I often use TED talks for class because they have flawless closed-captioning in English and a number of other languages. I specifically chose Petit's talk because of how he outlines a number of qualities (tenacity, passion, and more) that helped him succeed throughout his wild and unique career as a tightrope walker.
We then held classroom discussions and interviews about the elements of success and varying definitions of success. After determining their own definitions, student researched two people who they consider successful. They investigated the lives of those individuals and tried to determine the factors that helped them succeed. Students organized their information using a folder system. Factors contributing to success were written on halves of envelopes. Then facts were added to index cards which were color coded for each person being researched. The words on the envelopes later became topic sentences for paragraphs and the index cards were used for supporting details.
Students composed final written reports and then created mathematical formulas for their particular success equation.
What is it for?
Facilitating clear roles in group work while practicing skills such as active listening, giving clear directions and analyzing information.
How does it work?
Each student in a group of 4 gets one card. Each card defines a specific role in the group.
How do you use it?
I most recently used it for a reading group working with the book Stone Fox. I photocopied pictures from the text and pasted them on card stock. The groups had to put the pictures of the story in chronological order by laying that out on a table. Using the In order to do this, they had to be specific not only about the characters and action depicted in the pictures but also about word
This activity is adapted from Tools for the Mind.
A number of years ago, I attended a powerful session at the NJTESOL conference. The presenter shared her experience working with younger ELLs and literature with a specific focus on how she had employed a series of hand gestures to teach and story elements for elementary students.
Language teachers understand the value of kinesthetic movement (TPR) and how enhances linguistic growth. Many years later, even though the class was cancelled after our first day due to low enrollment, I remember beginning commands in French for "sit down" and "stand up" because they were connected to movement. (There is evidence that gestures enhance second language acquisition. If you are interested, here is one academic paper: The Role of Gesture in Second Language Learning: Communication, Acquisition, & Retention.)
Inspired by that conference session and the understanding of the power of movement, I created a resource to help my students improve their understanding of story elements like setting, characters and conflict by using hand gestures.
Here is a Google Doc with story elements and corresponding hand gestures. (In English and Spanish.)
Please let me know if you try this in your classroom!
Activities and Strategies for Story Elements (with downloads)