As I mentioned in my last post, I’m looping with my students from 7th to 8th grade. One of the greatest benefits of doing this is that I get to kick-start our curriculum right away by getting up and moving for a gallery walk.
After some discussion with last year’s 8th grade teachers, my PLC decided that we would begin the year with having students read excerpts from “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keys. Since the main character, Charlie, takes the Rorschach test, I wanted to do an activity that involved having my students do the same. I found all 10 original inkblots, and posted them in various areas around the room.
The Gallery Walk
Since my students sit in 10 groups of 3-4, I wanted them to do a gallery walk and visit each inkblot with those groups. With a simple graphic organizer in hand, the students complete it as they rotated through the different inkblots.
Students were warned that that one of the most important rules was to not talk or share their answers with their group members…yet. I didn’t want their perception of the picture to be influenced by someone else. I also assured them that there was no right or wrong answers, and that they should describe what they see. After they went through the entire gallery walk, they met in groups and discussed their answers.
When the students returned to their groups, they were so excited to discuss their wide array of answers! Some students even stood up and went to the picture to point out what they saw. For the most part, there were very focused and animated discussions, aside from the few students in my post-lunch 5th period class who were completely unmotivated.
I like the kinesthetic aspect of gallery walks. Students spend so much time sitting in their day that I want to have them learn through different modalities. At first I was bummed that they didn’t have their iPads in time for this activity, which meant that they couldn’t take the online Rorschach test. But after this activity I’m glad I didn’t default to the “easy” way of doing things on the iPad!
If you’re an ELA teacher out there and are reading this, have you ever had your students read “Flowers for Algernon?” And if so, what kinds of activities do you do with them?
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