Thursday, 15 October 2015

Values Based Writing - Turning Points

In my position I have been lucky enough to work with several great teachers and organizations.  One program that I really believe in is Turning Points, which is supported by The Learning Partnership.  Turning Points is a program that allows students to explore their values and to discover their own voice as a writer.  Students are walked through a variety of activities that allow them to think about who they really are and how they became that way.  Eventually, students write a narrative essay about a turning point in their lives that illustrates one of their core values.  These narrative essays can be submitted to the Turning Points contest for recognition and publication, but the value of the program is really in the classroom.  I like to think of the contest aspect as the icing on the cake of a wonderful writing journey.

One of the group activities that students might complete is a Prioritizing Value Words.  In this activity, students get into small groups - about four to five students is a great size.  Each group gets an envelope with a variety of value words inside.  Think about the group of students that you teach and the makeup of the small groups when deciding how many words to distribute.  As an example, a group might get these words:

  • attentiveness
  • committment
  • cooperation
  • generosity
  • honesty
  • respect
  • wisdom

In their groups, students will be asked to rank the words in order of importance.  This will require some negotiation skills.  For example, one student might have been the recipient of a great act of charity and so generosity is very important to them.  Other students might not feel that generosity is high up on the list.  These two students need to come to a compromise.

In my experience doing this activity, I have seen many shapes come out of this activity.  Some groups make a line from most important to least important.  Others make a circle with a core value in the middle.  I have seen some groups make cross shapes and totem poles where certain values are given equal weight.

Not only is this great for getting students to think about values, but it also is a wonderful activity to facilitate positive group work.  It is also a great vocabulary building activity.  Students are sitting down and discussing the meaning of several key words as a group.

Food for Thought... what are some of your favourite writing activities?

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