Year 8 English – Biography & Autobiography

Making Across the Curriculum

#Questions drive thinking and learning

If we make effective questioning a hallmark of our instruction and encourage student questioning around ideas then we will deepen student understanding and promote curiosity.

Cultures of Thinking in Action @ Ron Ritchhart, Cultures of Thinking Project, 2018

The Learning Experience

In our Year 8 English curriculum, students choose a biography or an autobiography from the school’s library to prepare an oral presentation to the class. They are encouraged to ask questions about their book and imagine how they could represent the person’s life by selecting objects that could depict moments of importance in their subject’s life. This year, I wanted to use the Making Move, Think, Feel, Care, to see how this thinking routine influenced my students’ responses in their interpretation of perspectives and representational objects.

Think, Feel, Care

This routine encourages students to look at another person’s perspective and their relationship to the system. As students read their books and thought about possible objects we discussed what a ‘system’ meant. To connect the idea of making an object that represented different perspectives and relationships to a system, I was inspired by Abby Krolik’s class who made sculptures-

Through Making Across the Curriculum, I was able to land on the idea of creating sculptures that represented one of the concepts studied in relation to a particular person or event from the anchor texts.

Similar to Korilk’s students I encouraged my students to make their objects to represent people, perspectives and systems.

Making- What did it look like?

Making Across the Curriculum- What did the students make?

 How did it go?

What stood out using the Think, Feel, Care routine was the buzz in the room as students created and talked about the system, ‘What system was Neil Armstrong in?’ ‘What is communism?’ ‘Genocide is a system of sadness that continues through generations.’ ‘Has the system that Malala lives in changed now that she lives in England?’ The room was noisy and happy with students painting, drawing, mapping, reading and writing on their laptops.

I noticed that students were able to develop a sense of agency in their decision making about the objects and the level they wanted to go with some students making a chain, to the intricate make-up box, to others focusing on their script for their presentation.

Some students created several objects to visually explain their chosen biography with one girl using a black veil to dramatically reveal the objects as she spoke about Malala.

What did the students learn?

This learning experience gave us the opportunity to explore complexity through the process of reading and observation and by questioning the system and how it related to the person they were researching. Our curiosity and understanding of different perspectives and how people react to and live in a system were challenged.

The making of visual objects gave time for student and teacher conversations about how concepts could be visually represented. This deepened our understanding of people and how they react to the complexities of a certain system.

What did I learn?

By using Think, Feel, Care I learnt with the students. We had to think about complexities and perspectives on many different levels and this led to questions about how to look at our system and the systems that other people have experienced. I was amazed by the visual representations of people, concepts and systems. To see all the objects and the books view this Google slideshow.

What will I do differently next time?

The questions from the Making Move, Think, Feel, Care incited many questions about what is the system and what are different perspectives. Next time, I’ll use the Making Move, Mapping Systems in conjunction with Think, Feel, Care so we can explore the practice of mapping and to ask questions about what is a system.


Agency by Design

Think Feel Care

Mapping Systems

DC_PZ In Action, Vol.11. Making Across the Curriculum

Exploring Complexity

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