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Learning Challenge Lessons, Secondary English Language Arts
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Learning Challenge Lessons, Secondary English Language Arts
20 Lessons to Guide Students Through the Learning Pit

First Edition


April 2019 | 264 pages | Corwin

Practical strategies for bringing The Learning Challenge to life in your secondary ELA classroom

The Learning Challenge has captured the imaginations of educators, students, and their parents by introducing the idea of  Learning Pit”—a state of cognitive conflict that causes students to think more deeply, critically, and strategically until they discover their “eureka!” moment. 

Now, fans of the The Learning Challenge who want practical examples and ready-to-use lessons for their secondary ELA classrooms need not look any further. This book provides teachers with everything they need to run thoughtful, dialogue-driven challenges so that students engage more deeply with the classics and develop literary skills critical to ELA standards. Students will analyze texts in lessons grounded in cognitive conflicts such as

  • We are all responsible for our own actions, and yet we sometimes act because we are following orders or instructions from others (Lesson 1: Who was responsible for the death of William in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein?)
  • To be successful you cannot fail, but most successful people have experienced many failures along the way (Lesson 7: Was Jay Gatsby a success?)
  • Love is impossible to define, and yet everyone knows what love is (Lesson 11: Is Romeo really in love?)

From detailed lesson plans and activities for running Learning Challenges in the classroom, to full-color activity cards that enhance each lesson, this must-have resource offers relevant and timely instructional strategies on topics that interest and engage secondary students.

 
 
List of Figures
 
Index of Concepts
 
Acknowledgements
 
About the Authors
 
About the Contributors
 
The Language of Learning
 
Part I: Setting the Scene
 
Chapter 1: Preparing to Use the Lesson Ideas
1.0 Introduction

 
1.1 The Learning Challenge

 
1.2 Learning Intentions

 
1.3 High-Quality Dialogue

 
1.4 Exploratory Talk

 
1.5 Underpinning Values

 
 
Chapter 2: The Lesson Activities
2.0 Overview

 
2.1 Mysteries

 
2.2 Ranking

 
2.3 Sorting and Classifying With Venn Diagrams

 
2.4 Opinion Lines

 
2.5 Opinion Corners

 
2.6 Fortune Lines

 
2.7 Living Graphs

 
2.8 Concept Lines

 
2.9 Odd One Out

 
2.10 Concept Target

 
2.11 Concept Corners

 
2.12 Concept Map

 
2.13 Jigsaw Groups

 
 
Part II: The Lesson Ideas
Lesson 1: Who Was Responsible for the Death of William in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein?

 
Lesson 2: Do We Feel Sympathy for Scrooge in Stave 1 of A Christmas Carol?

 
Lesson 3: How Are Dreams Presented in Jane Eyre?

 
Lesson 4: Does Heathcliff Become More or Less Monstrous Over the Course of the Novel Wuthering Heights?

 
Lesson 5: Does Louisa May Alcott’s Novel Little Women Accept or Challenge Gender Stereotypes?

 
Lesson 6: Was Toto Dorothy’s Only True Friend?

 
Lesson 7: Which Is the Most Important Symbol in The Great Gatsby?

 
Lesson 8: Which Example of Foreshadowing in Of Mice and Men Has the Most Impact on the Reader?

 
Lesson 9: Was It Acceptable for Liesel to Steal in The Book Thief?

 
Lesson 10: Was Macbeth Really a Tragic Hero?

 
Lesson 11: Is Romeo Really In Love?

 
Lesson 12: Who Has the Most Power in Romeo and Juliet?

 
Lesson 13: Is Tybalt a Villain or a Victim?

 
Lesson 14: Is Fame Important?

 
Lesson 15: Was Wilfred Owen a Patriot or a Pacifist?

 
Lesson 16: Does the Poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ Show Us How to Make the Right Choice?

 
Lesson 17: Was the Californian Gold Rush of 1848 the Main Cause of Conflict Between Native and European Americans?

 
Lesson 18: Did Anne Frank Experience Happiness?

 
Lesson 19: Why Was Winston Churchill’s Speech Effective?

 
Lesson 20: What Was the Intent of President Reagan’s Speech at Moscow State University in 1988?

 
 
References
 
Photocopiable Masters
 
Index

Guiding students through the Learning Pit to promote challenge, dialogue, productive struggle, critical thinking and a growth mindset has just become easier thanks to the Challenging Learning Team led by Jill and James Nottingham. This book has concrete lessons and activities connected
to great works of literature to guide students from surface-level knowledge to deep understanding – with an overarching goal of transfer. The best part, the activities and lessons presented in this book can be adapted to any complex, engaging text!

Paul Bloomberg
The Core Collaborative Student-Centered Learning Network

As someone who is continually striving to improve the quality of learning experienced by young people I am delighted to see the publication of this book. Another title from Challenging Learning packed full with straightforward practical strategies, outlined clearly for the teacher and applied to learning contexts so that anyone can pick them up and transfer them to their own setting. Just what we need to engage young people and enthuse their teachers in learning. More challenge, more learning!

Archie Bathgate
Brechin High School

This is an extremely useful and relevant resource, which combines a wealth of practical activities and strategies with a comprehensive theoretical explanation of how thinking is deepened using the learning challenge. Since using this knowledge and approach I have seen an improved pedagogy with my teaching staff and a resilient approach to learning with my pupils. I recommend this book to any teacher regardless of their subject or teaching phase.

Jill Harland
Brudenell Primary School

21st Century learning easily comes alive in this latest resource by Jill Nottingham et al. Collaboration, cooperation, creativity and critical thinking will abound in your classroom as you lead your students into ‘The Pit’ with these engaging ELA lesson ideas. Combining Challenging Learning’s research on positive mindset with student growth through productive struggle, these 20 carefully curated lessons include everything from a lesson plan to student materials. Brilliant! This resource is a teacher’s dream.

Karen Nguyen
The Downtown School, Bakersfield, California, USA

As someone whose teaching was fundamentally transformed by the Learning Pit and Challenging Learning concepts I was hugely impressed by this new book. James and Jill have taken a highly effective series of concepts and honed them to another level. As well as being an effective manual
on techniques backed up with the pedagogical theory that supports them, it also includes a huge number of activities linked to core texts from the new GCSE curriculum. A well-researched piece carefully constructed to be practical, informative and instantly applicable.

Barry Dunn
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