Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Across Near North District School Board (NNDSB), teachers found engaging ways for students to learn. As part of a culminating assignment, a Grade 11 and 12 English class at F.J. McElligott Secondary School read and studied an independent novel and students demonstrated their knowledge in whatever mode they chose depending on their strengths. Some students went in an artistic direction and some took a research approach.
“Students become more engaged in their study of English when they have autonomy over what they read, what they focus on, and how they present their understanding,” said teacher Chris Davis. “The challenge for the teacher is knowing your students well enough to provide just enough structure and support so that students gain momentum and find inspiration. I try to use shared texts, regular conferencing, student exemplars, and lots of feedback to help students refine their focus of study within the parameters given. When students can recognize their own strengths or areas of interest it opens the door to cross-curricular opportunities to show off what they know.”
The culminating English assignment had several components to it: an oral presentation; demonstration of knowledge of the students’ choosing; and of course, the reading of their novel.
“At some point in the course, we watched the documentary called The Way I See It and it talked a lot about the photographer for the President of the United States, said student Emma Dupuis. “I really liked the idea of how photos could tell a story. So, by doing that, I made a story with photos and quotes from book characters in the novel.”
One of Emilio Lavoie’s strengths is in graphic design and that was the creative direction he chose – designing a book cover for his assignment.
“My strengths are making things online like graphic design and stuff through software called Canva. I use that a lot for my presentations and stuff like that. So, I came up with the idea of making a book cover,” he said.
Both students shared that this type of learning keeps them engaged and motivated.
Creative writing was also a part of the culminating assignment with oral presentations.
“I wrote about Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem. The words and how she presented her poem, I thought it represented how my main character could go from this really dark reality and to something brighter. I tried to compare it to how the poem can apply to many things, including my book,” said Emilio.
In this assignment, students express their strengths and passions through a natural student voice.