Exploring Characterization in “Raymond’s Run” with Playlist Stations

After our reading of “Raymond’s Run”, I wanted to find a way to engage students in thinking about character that would also get them up and moving since they had been sitting and doing some quiet thinking/reading work for a few days.  I decided to craft a new playlist station activity with a focus on character, and I crafted stations that included:

  1.  Station 1:  Notice and Note Signpost “Contrasts and Contradictions”
  2.  Station 2:  Choose your best HOTS questions from your reading reflections without repeating one that has already been posted on the dry erase board.
  3. Station 3:  Character Focus STEAL–Speech
  4. Station 4: Character Focus STEAL–Thoughts
  5. Station 5: Character Focus STEAL-Effect on Others
  6. Station 6: Character Focus STEAL-Actions
  7. Station 7: Character Focus STEAL-Looks/Physical Appearance
  8. Station 8: Character Continuum Activity
  9. Station 9:  Silent Table Talk (looking at Squeaky through a feminist lens)

I used this blank station template to design my station signs; I also purchased and used these marvelous STEAL thinking prompts to go with stations 3-7.    You can access my playlist handout for students by clicking here.

I gave students a starting point for their stations, and then they could move on as they saw fit and choose their next station.  I let them work at their own pace, and we completed the activity in two days.   Students could work alone or with a partner; best of all, I could quickly see if students were struggling with their understanding of a concept because of the “checkpoints” built into each station with the playlist concept.

On Day 3, I used a variety of methods to bring it all together, including small group or partner talk to highlight what they felt were the most interesting insightful responses from each station across classes.  We also followed up our discussion with a Kahoot story review before taking an open note, open story quiz in Canvas.

Students who finished early on Day 2 could work on Membean or read their library book.  Though I have other fun and meaningful learning activities I’ve used in the past for generating thinking and discussion about characterization, this activity I designed seemed to be a good fit for where we were last week.

A Playful and Powerful Twist on Stations: Playlists

Today was our first day of preplanning, and we engaged in three breakout meetings to tackle beginning of the year topics.  Our administration divided faculty and staff into three groups, and we completed three rotations of 45 minute session.  The first session I attended was led by Assistant Principal Libbie Armstrong ; she introduced a teaching and learning strategy, playlists, as a medium for us to cover and address the following topics on procedural expectations:

  • Lockers
  • Cell Phones
  • Backpacks
  • Agendas
  • Hallways/Bathrooms
  • Grading
  • PLCs
  • Teacher Handbook

What are playlists?  Caitlin Tucker says:

The playlist concept stems from the Individual Rotation Model in which each student works from an individual playlist of activities. I’ve used playlists for formal writing, grammar, and projects. The goal of the playlist model is to allow students some control over the pace and path of their learning.

Playlists may include both face to face as well as digital learning activities and opportunities to respond.

We began by reading over the instructions and then picking a “learning path” as an entry point.  Even though they were numbered, we could actually do them in any order as long as worked through them and then did the appropriate checkpoint with Ms. Armstrong.  Our tasks were both individual and collaborative, and every teacher was highly engaged.  We recorded responses on chart paper, at table group areas, and on our individual response sheets.

After Tweeting about the activity this morning, fellow educator Brittany Griffin shared this guide she created on playlists!  Additional resources to browse:

We all left the session extremely jazzed about this approach and were sharing ideas about different ways we could use this strategy in our different subject areas.  I’m so excited to design my own for my 8th graders later this month.  Have you used playlists?  If so, what tips and best practices can you share?

Hat tip to my AP Libbie Armstrong for teaching this awesome strategy plus helping us tackle a wide range of important topics in a fun and engaging way!