Thursday, April 18, 2013

Circle of Viewpoints

Connect: After reading, Encounter by Jane Yolen, and going deeper through the questioning, I wanted my first graders to have an opportunity to get into the characters' skin.  The book lent itself to this thinking routine because the reader naturally empathizes with the main character and dislikes the villan. It is also a diffcult book that we worked hard to understand and I wanted to give my first graders a chance to go deeper.

What I did: I had the class count off by one and two and then split them up accordingly.  I assigned each number a role.  I then paired each student up with their advisary and told them they had to defend their behaviors and goals in the book.  Lastly, the children had to articulate their main argument on a sticky note.  Their conversations were so amazing.  I was impressed by the kiddos that were able to argue for the plight of the white setterlers and their "need" for land and gold.  Scarily enough, some of them were pretty convincing.

Extend: I have used the experience in conversations about needs and wants.  We have talked about how, like the white settlers, we have strong wants, and if not checked, we can easily trample other people.  I also plan to use this routine to help children understand the civil rights movment.

Challenge: The difficulty lies in leading young children through a routine that may bring up yucky feelings.  The conversations and the opportunities to learn from the good guys and the bad guys are invaluable, but difficult, none the less.


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  2. America, what a meaningful activity for the children! It just goes to show...if you have high expectations for children and allow them to make their own connections, the learning can go so much deeper. So often we impose perspective. Obviously your children had a great mentor text to use as a model and get them thinking about how some of these issues are relatable to them in the here and now. I honestly think in many situations it is ok to be honest about "icky" feelings. They need to know that these feelings are part of life and they have the ability to break through them.

  3. It is so exciting to hear that "little guys" can have such deep conversations about really difficult situations. I am always amazed at what a good book can do for kids, but it cannot happen without really thoughtful scaffolding by the teacher! I think the combination of your instruction, and the idea that sometimes we need to empathize with someone with whom we may disagree is a really powerful message for these young kids. What a great routine to use for this lesson!

  4. This is some pretty deep thinking for any student. What a good way to have students look at both sides of an issue - such an important skill to understand the world around them. I could use this routine for middle school - they love to argue, even with an academic viewpoint.

  5. America, I wanted to use this routine, but thought it might be too sophisticated for 2nd graders. You've shown me how it can be used respectfully and in a meaningful way with younger students. I'll definitely give it a try.
    Thanks, Awesome!!!

  6. What a great way to guide students to think about each viewpoint, if they it's not the "popular" one or the viewpoint they agree with. It's easy to immerse yourself in a viewpoint where everyone thinks like you do. It's more difficult to be convincing when the viewpoint you are working within conflicts with your views or the popular view. I do believe the latter skill serves students best since it forces them to come to terms with alternate viewpoints. Outstanding!