I’m really excited to be starting a new novel study class about “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. It’s a book I’ve read many times for pleasure, both as a teenager and as an adult, and this will be the first chance I’ve had to teach it.
This semester, I’m experimenting a little bit in my novel study class with technology and student autonomy. Here’s the course syllabus I’ve posted on our Classting safe social media platform for my students:
I’m providing homework resources to my students for self-study as they pre-read chapters before class, but am not enforcing their completion for homework. Students will have choice in how they wish to use the worksheets as a study guide. In fact, I’m posting the answers online for my students a few days before we meet in class so that they can check their learning.
Another way I’m supporting student autonomy is by allowing students to select their own way to reflect on the reading they do each week. They can post an audio or video response online, share their thoughts as a reflective blog post, or share an image of a sketch quote on something they read in the chapter that interests them. Here are some sketch quotes from this week’s class:
In addition to our Classting class social media feed, we’re using todaysmeet.com to run a backchannel discussion during Socratic circle question and answer periods each week. While one group of students debates and discusses questions orally in class, students in other groups can participate in the discussion by commenting on screen using their smartphone or tablet. Throughout the discussion students are given the chance to participate verbally as well. Here’s a screenshot of our most recent backchannel conversation:
After two classes together, the technology seems to be integrating well into the classes and the students are quite engaged for the hour-and-a-half we are together. I’ll update this post with more student work as we go through the novel.
Here is a free download of my vocabulary and comprehension questions and quizzes for every chapter of The Giver. Feel free to use my work in your class and share it with other teachers in your school if it is useful in your classes. The PDF file is 140 pages and includes answer keys for all of the worksheets and quizzes.
Matthew Boomhower is a mid-career educator with 18 years of classroom teaching and educational leadership experience. He is Head of Innovation & Learning at an international school in Malaysia and is a proud husband and father.