A good thing

 

books-1163695_1280

This thing happened and it was good.

There are times when something spontaneous happens in the classroom and the results are so unexpectedly cool that it is hard not to stop and enjoy.

We have had a big push on reading with our reluctant KS3 readers over the last couple of weeks. You know the kids I mean. These aren’t the bright, top set kids – who are reading Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man at the age of 12 – these kids are the ones who declare proudly “I’ve never read a book” or “I’ve only read one book ever – it was George’s Marvellous Medicine in year 3”. My personal favourite: “I hate reading.”

This is my class in year 8. Unsurprisingly they are mostly boys, mostly the cheeky ones you see cutting in the lunch queue, mostly the ones who haven’t made much progress.

It became obvious, when I picked this group up, that our KS3 curriculum wasn’t going to cut it. We needed to read, read, then read some more and then read and keep reading. At first most were struggling to read a sentence fluently. Some were unable to read words with three or more syllables. Remembering what we read from one week to the next was an issue. Trying, and learning to keep on trying, even when it got tricky and embarrassing, was as important as learning how to do the reading thing.

So far this year we have read two novels. I won’t bore you with which ones; nothing fancy, books had been sitting in our book cupboard for a few years. Chosen to meet the criteria of being just hard enough to aid learning and with a storyline that was relatively easy to hook onto and remember. After that we read a translation of Grendel and now we are reading non-fiction texts.

I won’t sugar coat it. Reading extended texts with this class is still tricky. Decoding, comprehension and inference skills are improving, but reading has never felt fun in these hours. Reading is still hard. Very hard.

Fast forward then to last week and World Book Day. We start every lesson with 10 minutes of silent reading – most are doing the Diary of Wimpy Kid thing, some have borrowed from my extensive collection of Horrible History books. They are reading though. Not just holding the books and daydreaming. Eyeballs move. Hands go up – “what’s this word Miss?”. Spontaneous comments “This book is funny Miss”. They are reading.

The non-fiction text of the week explained how chicken nuggets are made. Yep, it caused a stir. We tackled the vocabulary – consumption, tempura, raised (as in chicks raised in factories for consumption) etc. Yum!

I then posed the challenge. “I have never eaten a chicken nugget. Can you create a clear argument that would convince and persuade me to eat a nugget?” After the horrific realisation that they were in the same room as a vegetarian, we looked at writing an argument.

The kids wrote. We peer marked. I have worked hard with this class to develop their basic literacy skills through peer marking. We have a set of criteria and use it every lesson, it has numeric scores (i.e. if they have started every sentence with a capital letter, award them 5 marks) and the boys seem to like the clarity this presents. We champion improving on previous scores. They usually get house points if they are in the top 10%.

IMG_20160304_162904

Here’s the thing that happened. It was World Book Day. I had been showing off some books that we had been sent and whooping generally about reading. Cheeky Billy piped up “Miss, I want that book. If I get top marks today, can I have it?”

My response was “Heck yes!” After all, what else was I going to do with these books?

Eight other voices called out – “Can I have one if I get good marks?” Affirmative from me.

And so the writing was on. The focus in the room was a notch higher than usual. Muttering could be heard “I need to use an exclamation mark”.

Writing done, peer marking completed, attempts to exploit the marking criteria were batted away and four books were handed out.

The whole class crowded around the box, giving their opinions on each option, helping the lucky four make their choices. Cheeky Billy lost out. His frustration was good humoured “I’ll give you my World Book Day voucher.” Then inspiration struck “Can I earn one tomorrow Miss?”

I grinned and nodded, booting them out the door to lunch and forgot about it.

The next morning, I was on gate duty, four of my gang of boys arrived after the bell shouting “I’m gonna earn that book today Miss.” And so last lesson on Friday afternoon arrived and the remaining gaggle of 11 kids proved themselves desperate to earn a book.

At the end of the lesson, there was pushing and shoving over the last two copies of Cuckoo Song by Francise Hardinge.

Let me repeat, these boys – self-declared haters of reading at the beginning of the year – were pushing and shoving over a book. A book. I could have wept with joy. My job is the best job in the world

Today a whole week later, they are still talking about it. Still telling me what is going on the books they are reading. Still telling their mates that I gave them a book. Still telling their parents that they earned a book at school.

This thing happened and it was good.

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Hitting rock bottom

Rock bottom 1

I wonder if you have students at your school who had no hope of getting a C grade?

The ones whose FFTs are Es or Fs. The ones whose FFTs are Cs and Ds but nothing that happened in Years 7 – 11 gave any indication of how that could be. The ones who have complex (or even simple) needs and find learning tough. The ones who are never in school. The one who set the fire alarms off. The ones who SLT are always talking to in the corridors and on the playground.

As much as I love results day – and I do. And as much as I loved watching the faces of my top set when they saw their double A*s; it was the faces of the bottom set kids that I found myself seeking out. Knowing that they would be reading a list of Es, Fs and maybe Us.

You see, as well as teaching top set this year, I also taught bottom set. Two hours a week, Wednesday and Friday last lesson. With a group of 12 kids doing an English Only qualification. You might remember me talking about them in this post.

On Thursday, I watched those few who turned up to collect their results realise that they didn’t get what they wanted. For some of them it wasn’t even close. These are the kids where teachers will say “Well, he got 17 marks (out of 90) and I didn’t think he would do that!” or “An F grade is accurate.”

Whilst these maybe true, I wonder what it is like at the age of 16 to know that something has gone so badly wrong with your life already – that you need to start again, at the local College.

Rock bottom 2

It’s these kids and days like last Thursday that force me to have a cold, hard look at what I did wrong. (I know it’s not all my responsibility – despite what my PRP measure might say).
I feel like I say it every year – we can’t have another year like that.

So here’s my plan:

  1. The early bird catches the worm Our KS3 curriculum is pretty tight, very heavily weighted towards literature and knowledge. Whilst I love this – I have to ask myself whether a different provision might be needed for kids who have some of the fundamentals missing. You see, these kids need to read and be forced to read a lot. So at least half of their lessons will now include reading practice (phonics, reading aloud, guided reading strategies and all sorts of comprehension stuff). It’s time to look again at my Trust Me You can Read project
  2. Test them early, diagnose early, sort it early Running side by side with the above I think I know need a more effective way to test and diagnose reading age and reading skills. I know Katie Ashford at Michaela has blogged about this – although I don’t know this programme yet – I want to. I need data on these kids every term, every half term.
  3. Get my team on board My team are amazing, but by in large they are literature trained. We are lucky that 3 of us have all also taught TEFL. But until I started learning about phonics two years ago, none of us really knew how to teach a child to read. When a kid joins in Year 7, no matter what might have happened before – if I can’t teach them to read, then too much of secondary education is already lost.
  4. Get whole staff on board It’s interesting when you talk about phonics in a secondary school, the only people who know what you are talking about are parents. And most don’t like phonics. This year I will deliver whole staff training on phonics, reading and spelling strategies for all subjects. If we get these kids using the same approaches to reading key terms in Maths and Science as they do to reading a novel, then we have a hope of getting somewhere.
  5. Get parents (and their kids) on board Parent information evenings are great – however, I would like to see more parent workshops, where parents come in with their kids and work together on some of the kinds of tasks that they do in lessons. Providing parents with a little bit of information and lots of hassle-free opportunities to support their son or daughter in reading is better than saying “they need to read more” at parents’ evening.

I can’t say now whether this will have a big impact. I won’t stick my head in the sand anymore. It is a 5 year plan – starting at year 7, so we will just have to wait and see.

And because we all love a motivational poster:

rock bottom 3

Thank you for reading

L

 

 

 

Article of the Week #5 – Gender

Gender

Two articles prompted by the #HeForShe campaign for gender equality.

As ever with a set of questions and two transactional writing tasks.

PDF file is here: Gender – Emma W

Huge thanks to my very excellent colleague, Dr R, for providing sourcing these.

Thanks for reading,

Louisa

Teaching restraint in descriptive writing

What does good descriptive writing look like?

L6 writing

This was written by one of my year 7 students last week. It reads:
Bottles lay on the ground, infront of an unused bin. A small dark melancholy cat sat on the cold stone ground looking around for any sign of food. There was an eerie silence. Drops of water flushed out…

It continues in a similar vein for several paragraphs.

This is the picture the student was describing:

descriptive image

Most students arrive in Year 7 with the understanding that good writing is technique heavy.  The overuse of adjectives and adverbs has replaced writing that demonstrates subtlety or sub-text.

When we being writing, we begin with simple sentences: The boy ran.
We develop these to add visual imagery – The boy ran quickly.
Later we add more precise adverbs – The boy ran sluggishly.
Modifying adjectives and verbs: The overweight boy staggered painfully.
We introduce different openers: Late again, the overweight boy staggered painfully onwards.

Vocabulary work adds:  The corpulent man-child blunders unseeingly onwards into the grimly lit darkening streets.

When I ask my pupils what good descriptive writing looks like – this is what they seem to think I want.

The curse of “show and don’t tell” has meant that pupils as writers are spoon-feeding their readers on a whole new level.  Don’t show and don’t tell is perhaps a better maxim.  (A side note on this – when we teach students techniques like ‘show and don’t tell’ remember they internalise language and I end up marking GCSE exam papers that read “The writer’s use of show and don’t tell suggests…) As I said, don’t show and don’t tell is sometimes better.

It is disheartening to have to unlearn these skills but pupils must.  Laborious descriptions that are laden with adjectives, adverbs and literary techniques (CRASH! BOOM!) are not good writing. Nor will they ever be.

On becoming writers who read

The literature that we study at school is only worthy of study if we have to study it.  The reader’s interaction with the language of text – gleaning meaning where it is hidden is what we do when we analyse.  It’s not easy to write an essay paragraph using the quote “He slammed the fork down angrily” as there is nothing to infer.  The writer has set it out for us.

Pupils arriving in Year 7 though have been taught that when writing themselves, they must create such a vivid image for the reader than we have no work to do.  Their writing is filled with subjective emotional language, but by placing this into the text, they have robbed the reader of their own reaction.

Writing as detectives

I am teaching a scheme of work studying Mystery and next week we are due to start reading Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue.

In order to get into the mystery swing of things – this week I wanted pupils to pare back their writing, by writing description as detectives.

The lesson began with this extract from The Road by Cormac McCarthy (at this point I would like to thank Dr G for championing McCarthy endlessly – and finding me this extract):

descriptive writing 2

As detectives, pupils identified all the nouns and then explained what exactly was being described.  I then asked them to remove all the grammatical words to force their focus on to the nouns and noun phrases.  Finally we identified the adjectives.

By focussing on the nouns – students were more able to understand the ‘mystery’ in this extract. It almost sounds counter intuitive but this literal description allows for detailed inference – “the sagging hands”.

Students had to explain this forensic, scientific approach to writing, that did not use any emotional, subjective language. They described McCarthy’s landscape as realistic or ‘true’ as the students named it.

This image then required a detective’s eye to describe.  We started with nouns – precise and detailed.

descriptive writing 3

A few we listed were:
– a man, wearing a overcoat and hat
– a shuttered door
– four windows with six panes
– a building with high eves

Next I asked pupils to describe these nouns in the most scientific way possible and I asked why the sentence below is not forensic.

The shadowy, mysterious path went up to the crumbly, ancient building.

It was this part of the lesson that resulted in the most discussion and debate among students.

“You can’t use ‘eerie’ since when would a detective say it was ‘eerie’?”
“Gloomy is out – right Miss?”
“How can I say the building is old without exaggerating, it’s not ancient.”

By giving students the vocabulary ‘subjective’ and ’emotional’ they were able to critique their own ideas. Often writing down and then removing words that were weak.

The final 15 minutes of the lesson was spent writing just 10 sentences of scientific description.  Here are some of their attempts:

“Walking towards the light, a man alone digs his hands into the pockets of a long overcoat.”

“Stretching away to the left, the uneven cobbles absorb the black and grey of night.”

“Four, six paned windows reflect the streetlight exaggerating the darkness beyond”

“Darkness to the left and to the right. Light cuts threw the centre”

On the face of it this ability to show restraint in writing allows students to write in a manner that is more ‘true’.

Subjectively, I think this writing is closer to ‘good writing’ than writing that is created via a checklist of word types, sentence types and techniques.  It would certainly uphold more analytical scrutiny.

Thanks for reading

Louisa

Article of the Week #3

Body image pic

 

Here is this week’s gathering of non-fiction articles and questions.

Body Image is the topic: with one article on criticism of the Obama girls’ fashion sense and the second extract an NHS fact sheet on body image.

As ever I have included new GCSE style short and long answer questions, a comparison question and two transactional writing tasks.

Download here: Body Image – Obama girls and body image

Have a great week.

Louisa

Article of the Week #1

matter of factI am growing more and more aware that my current repository of ‘go-to’ non-fiction is not good enough.  The selection is too narrow and too old.

Each week I am will upload a non-fiction article and accompanying questions for use in the classroom.

These articles will be aimed at Year 9 + students so will be suitable for GCSE preparation or using in new 2017 GCSE units of work.

If you spot any great non-fiction as you are reading – do tweet it to me!

Here’s the first one.

Article of the Week – January #1

Why it’s time to let it go – Guardian – 17/12/2014

Writing thematic knowledge units

titanic fail

When I first joined my school last Easter, there was a scheme of work in the Year 7 folder dubiously titled “Titanic Leaflet”.

I was asked to teach it.

On further investigation it turns out this unit was exactly what it advertised to be.  Several weeks taken watching the Titanic film, reading bits of the Titanic book (based on the film) and then writing a leaflet for the Titanic voyage.

To cut a long story short – I didn’t.

Thankfully the new KS3 curriculum and new GCSEs gave me enough ammunition to dispose of leaflet writing, without me actually coming out and saying – this is possibly the biggest waste of time ever.

Easter 2014 feels a long time ago.  My opinions have come back to bite me, as I now take lead on the KS3 curriculum.  Remember that – opinions equal more work.  The upside being saying a hearty farewell to the Titanic unit without ever having touched it.  Yay for me.

Our new Year 7 English curriculum looks like this.  Our main aims were to:

  1. Put in hard stuff.
  2. Build up knowledge (and skills) from a logical point A to end of the year.

KS3

All of our units are heavily literature based, especially the writing ones.  I am firm believer in the idea that “the more you read, the better you write”.

So, this holiday I find myself planning a thematic unit.  Our students will look at the mystery (crime / detective) genre and write their own mystery story.  Sounds ok. Just.  But our students don’t deserve ok. They deserve something that has meat on its bones. Whilst that’s easy to achieve with Shakespeare or Dickens, a thematic unit can make it tricky.  Jumping from one thing to another, one text to another can result in students losing knowledge rather than retaining it.

So here’s how I’ve gone about creating a thematic knowledge unit.  Btw Joe Kirby has written excellently on knowledge units. Read his stuff.

Thematic unit based on knowledge – what do they need to know?

Content:

  1. The history of the mystery genre – all the way from Cicero to John Grisham.
    Students need an overview of the whole mystery timeline and specific moments that are vital (see texts).
  2. The conventions of the mystery genre and all its derivatives.
  3. The language and vocabulary of mysteries. There is a lexis, we need to study it.
  4. Mystery writing – applying the above to own writing.

Doesn’t seem like too much for a whole unit?  Perhaps not. Yet each text provides a new opportunity to studying and using the conventions.  What are the clues here? How are they set up?  Where are the breadcrumbs this writer is leaving us?  What are your clues? How should you set them up?

Our learning here is in a spiral or a cycle. We learn something and then come back to it again and again, with the same text, with different texts and with our own writing. Each and every time.

Texts:

The texts are perhaps the most tricky – you navigate the fine line between those that are worthy of study as readers and writers and those that are popular.  My unit is heavy on the ones worthy of study (although I understand why some would challenge that on ACD).  Yet I do include as starters, plenaries, homeworks a variety of exemplars including John Grisham and that one about Da Vinci’s maths book.

  1. Key mystery texts worthy of study for genre conventions and beauty of language, style, technique:
    Poe – The Murders at Morgue Rue (other works by Poe are studied in short story units later in KS3).
    Conan Doyle – A Study in Scarlet
    Christie – extracts from Murder on the Orient Express (1934), And Then There Were None (1939) and A Murder is Announced (1950)
    Bradbury – The Utterly Perfect Murder
  2. Other texts to study for genre conventions and developing genre knowledge:
    Radio Drama – The Death House Rescue – The Shadow 1937
    Hitchcock
    Sterling’s Twilight Zone
    Historical non-fiction eg Roanoke Colony mystery
    2 Minute Mysteries by Donald Sobol (for starters and plenaries)

Here is what the SOW looks like.  Depending on the classes involved students will either write a short mystery (800 words) or extracts from a mystery – the setting, the denouement.

mystery 1

Whilst this new unit is by no means perfect, it certainly provides for more and greater learning than writing a leaflet.

It does tick a number of boxes:

  1. Students are studying hard stuff – we aren’t watching films or TV versions. We are reading Poe and others, borrowing their language, studying their techniques and using them for ourselves.
    We aren’t writing essays but we are reading as writers.
  2. Students are exposed to a wide range of good literature over a short period of time.  Short stories are great for this, as are extracts.  After all, the new GCSE is all about the 400 word extract.
  3. Reading and writing go hand in hand. Reading and then writing imaginatively immediately is an excellent response to reading – especially when you are challenged to use the writer’s language, techniques and structure. Rather than writing a newspaper article based on the story – which is about as useful as a leaflet advertising the Titanic.
  4. While I doubt the new GCSE will ask them to write a mystery text in the exam, my students will know and understand the conventions of this popular genre and this will aid their study of unseen literary fiction.

After all, who’s know what will come up on the 2017 exams?

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Louisa

When Kids Can’t Read

This is my long overdue review of Kylene Beers’ When Kids Can’t Read What Teachers Can Do

kylene beers

 

The first thing to note is that even for an Edu tome, Beers’ 2009 book is pretty expensive.  Adding in shipping from the US, I paid around £27.00 for it, this post outlines to what extent it was worth it.

Why this book?

This year my school have picked up teaching The Giver in Year 8 (my recent post about this is here), this text is popular in the US and many of the ideas for teaching it seemed to reference some reading strategies I had never heard of – “Think Aloud”, “Say Something”.  I was curious.

With much focus on the new KS3 curriculum and the challenge of a new GCSE, perhaps a new set of strategies might be in order.  I am horrifyingly aware that our students now need to confident and independent readers.

Was it worth it?

I am going to say upfront – that this book is without doubt the most challenging and inspiring I have read in the last six years.  It is practical, academically rigorous and wholly focussed on students and their success.

Beers’ book does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a guide for teachers of secondary school age students, outlining the numerous problems with teenagers’ reading and how they can be tackled.

beers 3

 

Her thinking seems to have stemmed from genuine experiences in her own practice and that of colleagues.  Tackling students who were unable to read the words on the page, then unable to read with any fluency or comprehension and then tackling issues of vocabulary and spelling, before tackling helping students respond to texts.

Below is one example of her ability to articulate clearly the issues in her classroom.

Beers 1 Beers 2

There are many moments of dialogue in this book, dialogue recorded between herself and students or herself and other teachers.  While they do ring somewhat of ‘the American self-help’ book genre, they also serve the purpose of practical analogies for me to frame reference my classroom experience.

I began to realise that the problems I experience stem from issues so different from one another, that a one-off lesson in comprehension just wouldn’t cut it.

The mantra:

Anyone who’s been around education for a while now knows the mantra “making the implicit explicit” *nod to @LearningSpy*.  Beers’ worldview is no different. She just increases the number of things we need to make explicit.  Her challenge is that so many of our behaviours as confident readers are subconscious, that we must as teachers explicitly and intentionally teach them and then model them constantly.  I have written briefly about this before.

Not only does Beers’ tackle the decoding of words (including some very interesting discussion of the impact of Synthetic Phonics on students who were reaching Middle & High School at the time) and word recognition skills, she also has chapters on:

  • Creating Independent Readers
  • Assessing the needs of Dependent Readers – how to work out where to start
  • Explicit instruction of comprehension
  • Learning to make an inference
  • Frontloading meaning – pre-reading strategies. This one caused me some problems – is it possible to develop pre-reading strategies for the new “unseen” elements of GCSE? I am beginning to see some light on this. More on it in a later blog.
  • Constructing meaning – during reading strategies
  • Extending meaning – after reading strategies
  • Vocabulary – how to figure out what words mean (some fabulous stuff on prefix and suffixes here)
  • Fluency and automaticity
  • Word recognition
  • Spelling – moving from word lists to how words work
  • Building the confidence to respond (to texts, in class, in writing)
  • Finding the right book

All of the above with practical lessons outlining each element of knowledge needed and how to teach, demonstrate and build confidence in each skill.

Beers’ literally (yes, literally) steps into the classroom with each new strategy and explores how lessons using it were or were not successful.  Where learning needed to be paused and retaught or approached differently.

Each chapter ends with an imaginary Q&A session – Beers’ foreseeing my British scepticism anticipates our problems with turning her thinking into classroom practice.

The just under 100 pages of appendices include templates and lesson plans, spelling lists, book lists for a variety of levels. The book itself is 370 odd pages long – and textbook sized.  This is no mean guide.

So?

When Kids Can’t Read is definitely a practical guide (along the lines of How to be a brilliant English teacher) – it is jammed packed full of ideas and moments of realisation.  But it is not vacuous in its academic rigour – Beers’ clearly knows her stuff.  She references most of the major research into reading in the US during 90s and early 2000s, as mentioned above her knowledge of policy and policy making of reading in the US seems to go beyond that of someone mildly interested.  She has a big picture view but never seems to take her eye off individual students.

Beers’, although she has left the classroom, no doubt left her heart there.

Should you buy it?

As I stated at the outset – I love this book. It is expensive but worth it. Cheeky aside – many of Beers’ strategies are so widely used in the US that they can be found online with a simple search.  Don’t be fooled though. The strategies are fantastic, but it is Beers’ clear explanation of the issues behind the strategies that are revelatory. Without that exposition, you really aren’t doing anything more that making your powerpoint look different.

For English departments where students are entering Year 7 on a Level 5/6 but showing poor fluency, comprehension or understanding of written texts, then I think this book might be right up your street.  For departments where you are now carrying the burden of teaching students to read, this is a mature guide to dealing with this issue and teenagers.

Our English departments tend to be littered with Literature graduates, we are confident readers. We are not always confident with grammar, spelling and vocabulary – this text can help. We are also not always confident with articulating a process that is so natural to us – this text can help.

It will explain to you what you do automatically and how you can help your students do that too.

By embedding some of these strategies into my teaching, I am already beginning to see students more confident in their own opinions and ideas.

They are no longer grappling with a text and then listening carefully for my ideas or the ideas of the 3 or 4 confident readers in the room.

They are beginning to form their own inferences, viewpoints and connections.

Below are some examples of how I am beginning to try out Beers’ vocabulary, spelling and comprehension strategies.

beers 5 beers 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

beers 6

beers 7

Thanks for reading.

Louisa

Why The Giver keeps on giving

giver 3

It’s pure coincidence, I promise you, although I suspect you won’t believe me. As part of a dystopian fiction unit, Year 8 are reading The Giver this year. We chose it before we knew about the film.

Lois Lowry’s novel is 20 years old and has been the staple of Language Arts classrooms in the US from its first publication. This does not surprise me. For the first time since I began teaching the students in my classroom want to read on and on.

They are gripped by the world Lowry creates, with its eerie familiarity. They are gripped by idea of a perfect world where nothing is what it seems. They are gripped by the secrets and lies. They are gripped by the rules and placid obedience. They are gripped by the pervading atmosphere of horror that never actually slips past the veneer of polite indifference.

They are gripped by the truth. The ability to see our lives in the lives of the characters. The ability to see our government in their elders. The truth that perhaps our secrets and lies may be the same secrets and lies.

But – is it enough to teach a book that simply grips students?

So far in the last 8 weeks I have used The Giver to teach:

  1. Explicit reading strategies*, such as:
    Think Aloud (see here for more on this one)
    Cornell Note taking
    Visualisation
    Prediction
    Double entry journaling
  2. Comprehension strategies*, such as:
    Say Something (see here for more on this one)
    Identification of key moments
    Identification of key techniques: contrasts and contradictions, moments of realisation, advice taken and ignored, flashbacks and memories (key for this text), questions asked and not answered.
  3. Literary analysis, such as:
    Modes of characterisation used
    Analysis of language and structure techniques
    Explicit teaching of literal and inferred meanings of language used
    Use of double entry journal for independent analysis
    Links between language and ideas or themes
    Identification of narrative and authorial voice
    Links between different dystopian texts and The Giver
    Links between The Giver and our own world
  4. Creative response:
    The treatment of elderly in the novel, different societies and our society
    The issue of conflict and the modern world
    To what extent is Britain a dystopia
    The importance of freedom in a democratic society

I’m not sure what else you can ask from a text. I haven’t mentioned the vocabulary, spelling and grammar work the text also enables.

The upsides for me: Students love this book, therefore they love talking and ultimately writing about it, whether its a creative response (like the ones below) or an essay.

Win, win.

If you are looking for a new KS3 text, I highly recommend The Giver.  Who cares if the film just came out?

*If you are interested in the reading and comprehension strategies I have mentioned – I recommend Kylene Beers’ books on reading in the English classroom.

giver 5a

giver 4

giver 2
giver 1

conflict 1