Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Problems & Reports

I've never been big on book reports. As a home educator, I've relied on narration far more than reports. My conclusions have slightly changed and I've introduced a simple Book Report Form- very simple, mainly for Cub's benefit (though he might refute that claim). I basically have a simple form made up, which is filled out once a book is completed. I made a poster with the definitions that is in our school area. With a nod to Mr. Esquith, here it is:
Book Reports
The Protagonist: (the main character in a drama or literary work).
The Antagonist: The principal character in opposition to the protagonist or hero/ine
Conflict: (person vs. person, nature, himself, or society). Opposition between characters or forces in a word of drama or fiction, it motivates or shapes the action of the plot.
Plot: The pattern of events or main story
Climax: A moment of great or culminating intensity. The turning point of the plot.
Denouement: The events following the the climax of a drama in which such a resolution or clarification takes place.
Theme: An implicit or recurrent idea; a motif.
(a simple story that is familiar to most and clearly illustrates the above is The Wizard of Oz)

We've also been working on "How to Solve a Problem" (formal logic training doesn't technically take place before the dialectic stage, however, training kids to think logically and well should begin taking place far younger) I made a poster with the following 4 steps that we refer to frequently (especially when tackling math and sibling disputes):

Step I: Understand the Problem (put your pencil down). Collect relevant data
Step II: Choose an Appropriate Strategy (act it out, choose an operation, draw a picture, guess and check, look for a pattern, make a chart or table, make an organized list, use logical reasoning, work backwards).
Step III: Solve the Problem (pick up your problem).
Step IV: Analyze: Ask, "Does my answer make sense?"

I've found that stating "guess and check" as an actual problem solving strategy, but not the only one, allows the student to utilize other methods of problem solving without feeling guilty when this method is unitized (such as in long division). Also, the analysis step is greatly under-utilized. I often tell my high school writing students to read their assignments out loud before they submit them. When they HEAR their writing, it is often easier to analyze mistakes.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

This is great! Thanks so much for sharing! I am currently reading through Deconstructing Penguins, so your list is very timely! ;)