Thanks to Lorie Steed, SLMC at Central Davidson High, for this post about a collaborative lesson with teacher Chad Killebrew highlighting Banned Books Week!
Today I visited Chad Killebrew's English classes for a Banned Books Week lesson integrated into the ELA curriculum.
We started by having students read Amendment 1 from the Bill of Rights and apply it to their own lives via a "quick-write" activity. Then, with a show of hands, students shared which rights meant the most to them. They were pretty evenly split between freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Only one student out of three classes listed freedom of the press as personally important to them - but many rethought their positions once we discussed how this freedom also determines the information they have access to via the internet!
Now that students had considered the importance of basic freedoms, it was time to apply these ideas to Banned Books Week. To do so, I shared a Smore I'd created to give students a basic overview of what it means to ban or challenge a book, using information from the American Library Association and video clips from authors whose books have been banned, including Dav Pilkey (author of Captain Underpants) and Sherman Alexie, whose The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is on this year's North Carolina High School Battle of the Books list. Students used the Cornell notes format to record at least one detail and personal reflection from each video clip.
Finally, we put students in small groups and had them use Chromebooks to research a banned book and the "Two Truths and a Lie" strategy (adapted from our recent DEN Ambassador training) to share their findings with the class. After giving a basic summary of the book, students were to share three statements related to its challenge or ban, and others in the class had to guess which of the three statements was not true. This was a fun interactive way for students to learn about different banned books, and more engaging than a simple lecture.
One thing we realized as the day went on was that we needed more time than we'd allotted to complete all planned activities - we planned for about an hour, but really needed close to 90 minutes. Since we were rushed, I didn't get to spend the time I hoped to teaching students how to use advanced search strategies and evaluate internet resources - next time I will either build additional time into the lesson or have students use Sweetsearch since its links are already vetted. We'd also originally originally planned to have students share their research via a shared Google Slides Presentation, but since we were short on time, we took a pen and paper approach and just had them jot their findings down and share with the class verbally.
Another suggestion if anyone wants to try this lesson - assign each group a specific book to speed up the process! Some of the groups in our first class spent more time choosing the book they wanted to research than doing the actual research. In later classes we assigned the books to each group. In English 3 Honors, we assigned them an American classic they might not otherwise study in class, and in standard classes, we focused on books they might already be familiar with, such as The Wizard of Oz and the Goosebumps series.
Now that we've practiced this lesson and learned from what worked and didn't, I've adjusted the lesson, which can be accessed via this Google Slides presentation - feel free to adapt or use as you wish!
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