Friday, June 5, 2009

New Gold Mountain #2

This week my literacy class continued reading New Gold Mountain: The Diary of Shu Cheong by Christopher W. Cheng. This is an historical fiction which is part of the "My Australian Story" series. It tells the story of life on the goldfields at Lambing Flat, NSW in 1860-1861. Shu Cheong, a fictitious character travels to Australia to find gold to take back to his village. On the journey both his father and third uncle die, leaving Shu Cheong alone in a foreign country. The local Chinese Society arrange a foster parent (Uncle) for Shu Cheong.
Details of pages 1-30

Summary of Pages 30-70
In these pages we learn more about life on the goldfields and see an increase in the tension between the European and Chinese miners. After a confrontation with one of the Chinese miners who was mining in an abandoned European mine, the European miners drive the Chinese out and they are stranded in the bush, surviving on what plants and bugs they can find. On their return to the goldfields they need to purchase new tools and get themselves set up again. Life continues as normal until again they are forced from their tents.

Reading: The reading part of this unit is done in a variety of ways: teacher reading to the class, students reading to the class, students reading in pairs or independently. While students are reading, I sit alongside them and ask questions and/or make anecdotal notes about fluency/expression/self-correction etc.

Code Breaker
: Continue to build the vocabulary chart and discuss new words as they are encountered in the text.

Text User: Consider first-person perspective in historical fiction. Students work in teams to collect information about convicts and their lives from books (20mins). Students sit in a big circle. Each contributes one fact they learnt from their research so that everyone can benefit from their knowledge. Students then begin writing a diary entry from the perspective of a convict.

Text Participant: Students write their names using Chinese script (see lesson here).

Text Analyst: Students discuss the bullying of the Chinese and consider how it would feel to be in their position. Students share own experiences of being burgled. Explain the difference that having insurance makes - in those days they lost everything and had to start from scratch (15 mins). Students then read factual recounts of the treatment of the Chinese on the goldfields. They highlight relevant passages and share this with the class in a discussion (25 mins). Students then work independently to write speeches from the perspective of a Chinese miner or European miner trying to convince the other European miners to stop harrassing the Chinese. Use Jenny Eather's Writing Fun page on Persuasive writing as a guide. On completion, students who wish to can present their speech to the class. (We recorded these with the Flip Mino to share on our My Classes page).
From a Quality Teaching Model perspective, this lesson was great for developing deep knowledge and deep understanding, using higher order thinking, allowing for substantive communication, and improving problematic knowledge through seeing things from the various perspectives.

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