On Monday, the "reg" class completed an activity that asked them to put themselves into the shoes of a person that was affected by the Holocaust. For about a half an hour or so, students read through their individual handouts on their specific person, answered questions about these people and interviewed a fellow classmate whose person was from the same country. After they had completed these sections, they were then given a scenario that included an excerpt from Night to which they had to react.
I really love this activity because it encourages the students, especially those in the non-honors section, to think deeply and connect emotionally to what is happening in Wiesel's book. They must not only read critically their individual handouts, but put the information into their own words and listen to a fellow classmate describe their person, as well. Afterwards, they filled out a gold star to put on a remembrance wall.
Today, students in Ms. P's honors section participated in classroom discussion, mostly instigated from themselves. Ms. P. has students find "golden lines" and well as look for themes and symbols while they read. Students are encouraged to write down this information and at the beginning of class, each student shares anything they way about the book, but they must share.
This idea is genius. I want students to participate in my classroom for many reasons, but one is so that can become more confident as they speak in front of people and also be able to adequately express their ideas. This way, students are not responding to a question posed by the teacher and they have the choice as to what they will share. Also, the desks have been moved into a circle by Ms. P during this time of discussion, for all her classes, so that students will be able to see and talk with one another.
I was amazed at the contributions the students made to the discussion and how much of the book was covered simply by allowing the students to speak. This is more common in a college classroom, but I was very impressed by these sophomore high school students.
Lastly, the final activity, which the honors section took home as homework and the regular class completed during class time, asked students to find three symbols that represented their own lives. They are talking about the symbolism in Night and I love the idea that they are also encouraged to think about symbolism in their own lives. Overall, this was a great week and I look forward to next week. My fingers are crossed that it does not ice or snow!