Over the summer, students were required to read Lois Lowery's The Giver. When school started, they were told that they'd participate in a number of activities related to the book. They were mainly concerned about testing. I told them that they would be assessed but in a different and more fun way. They expected maybe an essay assignment or multiple-choice exam. However, what was in store for them challenged them in a way that a traditional "sit-down" test could not. They were given the opportunity to collaborate on some activities. Even more, they were engaged and enjoyed themselves!
One activity that students liked was the Silent Discussion. Unlike normal whole-group discussions, students were not allowed to talk. The class had to be completely quiet. I started by assigning each student a question. There were 8 questions altogether, so I numbered the papers and required students to copy the question that corresponded to the number on their sheet. The questions were projected on the board. After everyone successfully copied their question on their paper, I projected a 3 1/2 minute timer on the board. For that amount of time, students answered their own question. When time ran out, they were required to move to another student's seat to answer their question. This activity allowed them to not only demonstrate their understanding of the novel but to also be exposed to their peers' thoughts as well. After 7-8 rounds of responding and moving, students read their papers, circled two noteworthy answers, and shared with the class.
Another activity that students completed was the One-Pager. This was 3-day in-class group project. This project allowed students to respond to The Giver in a more condensed and creative way. The project was designed to center on the literary term theme. Students had to identify a theme from the book. They had to choose 2 quotes (and properly cite them) from the book to support their theme. In addition, they had to explain each quote. Furthermore, students had to identify a man versus society conflict from the novel and connect it to a similar conflict in real life. They had to also draw pictures that corresponded to their theme. Lastly, students had to write an open-response question related to theme and answer it. Each group used 1 white poster board, markers/map pencils, pencils, and of course the book. The day before the project actually started, all students completed a planning sheet. This sheet helped me assess students' individual knowledge of the book. The next day, they were assigned to groups and asked to discuss their ideas. Some students were surprised to learn that their ideas were similar. Students combined their ideas to complete the One-Pager. Take a look at the finished products below! Students did an excellent collaborating throughout this activity. It warmed my heart to witness students working together to achieve a goal! It's going to be a great year!