Thursday, 15 August 2013

Literature Playing Cards

I made these this week:
Literary Card Aces
Literary Card Faces
Literary Card Numbers
I've used papers before to sort students into groups at the start of class. Everyone either takes one as they come in or there is one at each desk. I did irreversible binomial chip flavours, ex. one person has "Salt and" the other has "Vinegar" and students had to find their partner. However; these were always hastily made before class (sometimes finished during!) and recycled shortly after. I wanted to make a permanent, more flexible solution.

Literature cards were born! This set is designed to have 36 cards, which divides easily into 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, and 12! I will shuffle them before class and give each student one to start and flexible grouping is a breeze.

  • I want groups of four? Everyone pair up with people with the same number.
  • Four large groups? Everyone make a group of the same suit.
  • Groups of three? Ace to 3 of Hearts here, ace to 3 of Yodas here, etc.
The backs of every card are going to evenly, and randomly be made six different colours. These colours allow me to:

  • Make groups of six.
  • Have each colour represent a certain point of view to take when responding to a text

Since I will be teaching grade 9 and 10 English this year, I want to really get my students excited for all that the world of literature has to offer. With these cards I hope to introduce students to some iconic genres and characters from literature, and hopefully make them curious too!
The traditional four suits are replaced by four genres:

  • Hearts - Romance. I chose to use Jane Austen characters and quotes.
  • Yodas - SciFi/Fantasy. I love this genre. It excites the imagination and is filled with allegory and social commentary.
  • Magnifying Glasses - Mystery/Detective. It's easy to be drawn into a Who-Done-It. Foreshadowing abounds and reading can easily be connected to the glut of crime procedurals on TV.
  • Masks - Drama. I chose Shakespeare quotes and characters since he is The icon of drama. This is language as art in an ideally non-written form.

Each genre has three face cards:

  • King - An influential male character.
  • Queen - An influential female character.
  • Joker - A fool/jokester.
I wanted to give equal weight to male and female so chose to use the joker instead of the jack, as the joker represents a different mode of being within the genre.

I will most likely have less than 36 students in my class and I'll tailor which cards I use to that number. If I have 28 students I'll remove the 5s and 6s for example.

I'm excited to give them a try. If you like the idea and want your own, click here and download them from my flickr set. They are creative commons, so please reference me and don't use them to make a profit.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Tournament of Words

I love words and learning new ones (The last new word I came across was spall.) and have been thinking of how I can bring this enthusiasm into my classroom. One of my ideas is the "Tournament of Words"
  • Each time a student encounters a new word in their reading they can submit it, with a definition and the sentence they encountered it in, to the monthly word pool.
  • At the end of every month I'd share all the entries with the class and set up a bracket.
  • Students then vote on every match up and decide which word ends up as the new word of the month.
  • At the end of the year all monthly winners compete for the title of new word of the year.
I'm hoping this gets students excited about encountering new words.

I thought of using polls, like a Google Form, for doing this, but at the school I'm at that would mean booking the laptop cart and a lot of work setting up each draw and then making new polls (in class) for every subsequent round. So, I've decided on using the old school method of hands-up voting, with a web-based bracket that can keep track of each round easily.

I did a bit of searching around and found It makes filling in brackets very easy. You type in all the entries in the first round and the rest is just clicking. Like this:
The one down side of Better Bracket Maker is that it only does powers of two: from 8 to 128. If I had 23 new words one month I'd be out of luck. So, either my timing would change from being strictly monthly to as soon as 32 words are submitted or I would have to use another site. has fillable PDF brackets from 3 to 64 entries and every number in between. I could do a 23 word draw with this site, but have to manually type each entry in each round. I don' think I mind that too much though.

Do you think students would be interested in this? How do you build enthusiasm for expanding vocabulary?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Fakebook Update

Hot on the heels of making a twitter template for character studies, I've updated my fakebook template too!
Click on the picture to download!

Twitter Novel/Character Study

You may remember my enthusiasm for Literary Tweeters. I've started working on my courses for the upcoming year and here is the twitter activity I'm going to use with a novel study. The best tweets from each year will be used in a sporcle-style twitter review quiz for the following year. The twitter feed will be used to summarize the story and the extras: bio page, following, photos and videos, ads, recommended people and trending hashtags, will be used to shed light on the character they've picked to study. As an extension I would as students to make a "# Connect" page that follows one of the trending hashtags. This page would have people their character isn't following and would provide a different perspective on what is happening in the story. 
This project is similar to a facebook character study I made to use with Macbeth, however, this project is Word-based instead of using Publisher and is easier to use and modify. 

If you'd like a copy of the template click here.

My next project is going to be to use Word to update the facebook template to the Timeline layout.