The Relationship Between Readers and Writers读者与作者的关系
One of the crucial aspects of the MYP is the importance of engaging students in learning experiences that allow them to connect with others, and that allow them to learn more about themselves in the process. Language is a perfect avenue to explore our relationships as we use language as a tool in multiple ways to begin or enrich our relationships with others.
Using Personal and Cultural expression as a global context, for their third unit in grade 6, MYP 1 English students explored the relationships between readers and writers. In the unit we wanted to explore how readers understand and empathise with information when they establish connections with meanings, values, themselves, and humanity. Moreover, we also wanted to reflect on how, we could develop writing skills that would allow our readers to engage with us in that manner.
Needless to say, genuine communication was crucial in order for our unit to work effectively. Therefore, as students read the English version of ‘Oscar and the Lady in Pink” by French author Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, we decided to emulate the experience of the main character and write letters. However, these letters were not written to ‘people’, but to intangible beings that affect the way people live their lives. For this reason, in order to make this happen, PYP, MYP and DP teachers were invited to serve as those ‘intangible beings’ and be the readers students needed for their letters. Likewise, because teachers would be replying to students, students would have the opportunity to experience being both a reader and a writer.
Since the authors of the letters were anonymous, students were curious about the people who were responding to their letters. This, in big part, was one of the biggest motivations for the unit. Students were told that, at the end of the unit they would get to know who was responding to their letters in person. The pictures below demonstrate our leaning journey in this unit.
We began our unit by unpacking the global context, and by brainstorming about the relationships between readers and writers. This experience allowed us to come up with several student-focused understandings to explore throughout the unit.
As we continued reading the book, we kept a reading journal ONENOTE in order to exchange points of view about the ideas we came across in each chapter in the book, which were written in the form of letters.
As students read Oscar and the Lady in Pink, they also wrote letters to the intangible beings that had been selected. Moreover, every time they got a response, we engaged in discussing why readers/writers had responded as they did, which gave us the opportunity to address concepts such as word choice, and mood.
Finally, the time came when students had the chance to meet the people that were responding their letters. While the responses students had received before were types, and forwarded by email, this time student received an actual letter. Not only did they experience a language practice that is not quite common in their generation, but also appreciated the beauty of penmanship.
Finally, in order to bring this experience to a closure, as students met the teachers who were writing to them, they participated in a round table in which the relationship between readers and writers was discussed.
This multiprogram collaboration allowed students to put the following skills into practice:
- Active listening
- Listening and responding to different perspectives
- Interact with different age-groups and audiences
- Listen to and offer feedback
- Communicate ideas effectively
but most importantly: to own their learning journey.
I am very appreciative of my PYP, MYP and DP colleagues who gave some of their time to support this learning experience, which I am sure will stay with students for a long time.