Cooperative Learning Lesson with "Walk Two Moons"
It never fails--for a lesson to fully succeed in class, a teacher should have the ability to tap into the intelligences of the students and use these unique strengths to maximize student learning in a fun way. Never commit the mistake of making your students learn using means that they aren't wired to utilize! What always works is dividing the class into cooperative learning groups that are differentiated according to multiple intelligences. In this manner, the students' tasks effortlessly align with that of their skills, making learning even more fun, memorable, and motivating.
GROUP ONE: Street Interviews
Awaken the inner journalists in your students! One activity that my students gamely participate in is what I call the Street Interviews. In this activity, the students go around the classrooms and halls (and even nearby buildings) to interview people about the assigned issue: Who is the most important person to you, and what would you do if you lose him or her? The group is given twenty minutes to meaningfully interview as many people as they could. After twenty minutes, they go back to the room and come up with a presentation of the answers that they gathered in the form of a news reporting. The students are given another ten minutes to plan their presentation. In this activity, students get to widen their own paradigms on losing a loved one, making them better able to relate with Sal in the novel Walk Two Moons.
This group activity works best on students whose strength lies in public speaking and journalism.
GROUP TWO: Friendship Info-mercial
Simultaneously happening with the group activity above is another task called Friendship Info-mercial. In twenty minutes, the students in this group are to come up with three ways on how to understand a friend who doesn't seem to be understandable at all. After twenty minutes, they are then given another ten minutes to plan their ideas presentation in the form of an info-mercial that promotes seeking first to understand and understanding the heart of a friend in need. This task always stimulates the students to really go beyond their own thoughts and willingly try to understand another person's situation in order to have a paradigm shift. Model giving an example--for instance, one way to try to understand a confused friend is to listen to him and slowly imagine yourself to be in his shoes. This activity is an exercise on empathy--one of the central themes of Walk Two Moons.
The info-mercial activity suits well with students who are good at expressing themselves kinesthetically through theater and acting guilds.
GROUP THREE: Another Person for a Day
The third group's task also involves working outside the room like the news reporters' group. Each of them will be given a figure in school with whom they are to trade places. For the next twenty minutes they could be assigned as another teacher working on classroom peripherals, the friendly janitor, the cafeteria server, or even the head of academic affairs! After twenty minutes, they are to return to the room and, through a journal entry, write about how it felt to be someone else for a short period of time. Guide their journalling by posing guide questions and narrative starters. They are given ten minutes to jot down their thoughts and feelings on paper.
Students who are intrapersonal and existential would do well in accomplishing this task and reflecting on it afterwards.
Designing classroom activities that cater to the learning styles and intelligences of the students is an effective way to boost students' motivation. Because their skills are recognized and affirmed in these activities, they rapidly move into the perspective of learning being doable and attainable--minus the torture of boredom!