#11 ‘Analysis Connectagons’

I came up with the idea of ‘Analysis Connectagons’ after trailing the ‘SOLO Squares’ which I have seen others use Twitter. The ‘connectagons’ are a pretty simple concept once you get your head around them and lead students to deeper thinking. Again, this task is ideal for group work and gives students the additional challenge of making connections and justifying how they arrange and position each shape.

Here’s how it works:

Students cut out two of each ‘Theme’ and ‘Character’ hexagon and work as a team to answer the layered questions in the spaces provided. As you can see in the example, the ‘Theme’ hexagon has three stages linked to the SOLO Taxonomy strands. The stages develop as follows: ‘Multistructural’ requires students to ‘Identify’ parts of the text where the theme is addressed; ‘Relational’ challenges students to ‘Apply‘ and link their ideas to at least three important quotations from the text. Finally, the in the ‘Extended Abstract’ space, students are to ‘Reflect’ and evaluate why Steinbeck used this theme in the novel.

The process should then be repeated for the ‘Character’ hexagon which contain slightly different questions. Instead of ‘Identify’, the ‘Multistructural’ task is to ‘Describe how Steinbeck presents this character’. Once again, the last two strands require students to ‘Apply’ by linking ideas to three important quotations and subsequently ‘Reflect’ on their ideas by referring to Steinbeck’s intentions/views and his message about 1930s society.

Once the shapes are filled in with top-notch ideas, the final challenge is to put them together (like a big jigsaw). This concept reflects the original SOLO ideas whereby students make links between each concept. This task is separate to the original and does not require students to link comments written on each hexagons. For example, in ‘Of Mice and Men’, the ‘Candy Character Connectagon’ can be placed next to the ‘Loneliness Theme Connectagon’ because Candy is a lonely character. What’s more, this connectagon can also link to the ‘Dreams’  as Candy buys into George and Lennie’s proposed plans.

This task is a great way of making progress visible and stimulates effective group discussion. Furthermore, it is a fabulous tool for revision and recapping themes and characters. I would like to see this in action on another text such as a Shakespeare play. If you use this resource in your classroom, please tweet a picture of it!

Download from: sellfy.com/JamieClark85

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#10 Character Cubes

Character Cubes is a really effective way of engaging students whilst allowing them to analyse characters on a number of levels. As you can see from the picture, the cubes incorporate the SOLO Taxonomy stages and are a great way to make progress visible.

In recent weeks, I have been trying to create new ways for students to make links between texts/characters/themes without writing their ideas straight into a conventional paragraph. More visual (and practical) methods of making connections ultimately helps students to retain information and is more likely to stimulate discussion. This task is perfect for group work (ideally four), as each student has to work on a specific character.

In the example, I have used characters from ‘Of Mice and Men’. Students begin by making the cube and then addressing pre structural task – in this case to read an extract from Curley’s Wife’s first appearance. Learning is then guided further by the ‘Unistructural’ stage – students are to identify key words, phrases or symbols from the extract. Next, the ‘Multistructural’ stage requires students to explain the significance of the key words/phrases or symbols identified. This can be done as a written response or in note form. Within the ‘Relational’ stage, students are challenged to make links to other quotations in the novel to back up and support their exisiting views. Again this can be added to their written response or notes can be taken. Finally, in the ‘Extended Abstract’ stage of the task students have to reflect on how their ideas link to the social/historical context of the novel. With regards to ‘Of Mice and Men’, comments on Steinbeck’s views on 1930s society could be made and linked to the character in question.

In order to encourage students to explore their ideas in a more sophisticated and developed way, I have included key terms from the ‘Dynamite Paragraph’ resource which shows students how to expand responses through key words. Here’s an overview of what I have included:

D/C Grade: implies, suggests, demonstrates, indicates, highlights

B/A Grade: another, in addition, moreover, furthermore

A* Grade: perhaps, maybe, could, might, possibly

Please see previous post on Dynamite Paragraphs for further information.

The best bit of this task is to build the cubes and make perceptive links between each. For example, the Curley’s Wife character cube can be placed on-top/next to Crooks as both characters are oppressed isolated and lonely. It would be up to the students to justify the connections they make and explain why they have arranged the blocks in a particular order.

Please download the resource from: sellfy.com/JamieClark85

If you use this in your classroom, please please tweet a picture of it in action!

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