Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Student Webs: Taut or Flaccid?!

Does your students' thinking suffer from loose connections? Are they unable to see how the smaller details fit together to make a coherent, larger picture? Does the word "flaccid" come to mind?! Fear no more! Periods 3 and 4 English 9 students can help your students take their thinking from flaccid to taut in record quick time! 

Yes folks, that's right, from a tentative spider-ish web of dangling and loose threads to an exemplary web of lines you could bounce a quarter off of, clear connections are the key to a good web. 

Montgomery Periods 3 & 4 Russian Revolution Web. Please click to enlarge.
 We used color coding: blue for terms, orange for people, and yellow for events. Then we voted about setting this up as columns or concentric circles. The vast majority of students liked the concentric circles. Pretty much buried in the center area is the subject matter, "Russian Revolution." 

In preparation for reading George Orwell's Animal Farm, a basic understanding of the Russian Revolution is helpful. You can see that student absences resulted in some missing events, people and terms, but overall, you get the effect of a web. 

The day we created the web, and the day we made the connections were a bit, ah, let's say "busy," but I like the overall visual impact of the work. For my students this was an opportunity to make learning 1) visible 2) tactile and, 3) kinesthetic. 

Webbing is a great organizational tool for NON linear thinkers. As terms, people, and events pop into their heads, there's a spot to plunk it, and then all the lines criss-crossing the space emphasize just how many connections can be made.

Webbing is a bit messy and chaotic for my linear thinkers, but they were flexible and tried to ride out the craziness. We've talked about how seemingly unrelated events and people, given the right circumstances, can change the course of history. 

Now, as we make our way through Animal Farm, we keep referring to this visual representation of the web of people, ideas, and events as they are allegorized in the novel. 

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