Marimar and Kurt guided us through a series of community building activities that develop Common Ground for a large group, moving from Point of Concentration Activities to Pair Activities. Kurt pointed out that these are called community BUILDING exercises – not instant perfect community activities. And while it may take some time for our students to internalize the skills that these activities develop, even our students’ “mistakes” along the way are learning experiences.
We read Chapter/Capitulo 1 of Don Quixote aloud in English and in Spanish, identified the questions about the main character that the chapter addresses, and then interviewed each other in pairs to ask the same questions of each other. Using the style of Don Quixote’s opening, we introduced our partners by reading aloud our resonant and poetic descriptions of each other, based on our interview answers.
Partner Introductions Template:
“We were all wondering if we were doing it right – but we all WERE! The results were so beautiful, so poetic!”
“It is amazing how quickly we developed a sense of real connection to people we had just met!”
We were introduced to “Thinking Routines” – simple but powerful classroom protocols developed at Harvard University for supporting deep reflection and inclusive knowledge construction. These are much more than entertaining “bell-ringers”. They can help establish sustainable habits of critical and creative thought.
The SEE-THINK-WONDER routine invites us to objectively bring to attention the details of what is actually present in an artwork, be it a piece of literature or a product of another art form. Then, and only then, do we think about our interpretations of what the elements signify. This is followed by Wonders – the questions and lines of inquiry that our interpretations spark within us.
We used a Gustave Doré print of Don Quixote surrounded by books and a jumble of narrative images to apply the SEE-THINK-WONDER thinking routine, resulting in rich collective engagement with the complex themes of Don Quixote.
Participants created and shared movement with peers inspired by words from the text, then created sculptures with their bodies from phrases from the text, and then from whole sections.
After reading Chapter 1 of Don Quixote in groups of three, we worked to collaboratively write newspaper HEADLINES for the chapter’s content, effectively summarizing key ideas in the text.
“Is it possible to read too much?”
“Biblio-adventure leads to lunacy.”
“Lunatic on the loose!”
Kurt introduced the idea of “kennings” – a Norse poetic tradition of describing beings and forces of nature through compound phrases calling out qualities and actions of what is being described. Here are some examples:
Click on the image for a kennings resource.
We were then invited to create kennings for Don Quixote, and then kennings for ourselves. These were developed at our tables, allowing us to contribute to each other’s self descriptions.
Then Cynthia led us through the making of cut paper masks to represent our personal kennings.
Cynthia’s Mask Making Slideshow: