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February 12, 2015 Complex Tasks With Henry’s Freedom Box By Kriscia Cabral
Grades 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Reading instruction has been framed with a need for rigorous learning tasks. Read on to grab ideas on ways to create a range of depth for every learner using Ellen Levine's, Henry's Freedom Box.

    Our district has been emphasizing the importance of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, and how important it is to meet a range in depths when designing learning experiences. According to the New York City’s Department of Education site, “Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK), offers a common language to understand 'rigor,' or cognitive demand, in assessments, as well as curricular units, lessons, and tasks. Webb developed four DOK levels that grow in cognitive complexity and provide educators a lens on creating more cognitively engaging and challenging tasks.” You can learn more about Webb’s DOKs levels and find more valuable resources by visiting The New York City’s Department of Education website.

    With this idea in the back of my mind, I had a plan that I was ready to put in place. We started with a whole class read-aloud of the book, Henry’s Freedom Box, by Ellen Levine. This book tells the story of Henry “Box” Brown and how he has to mail himself in a box in order to gain his freedom.

    Prior to our reading, we activated some background knowledge about slavery and the Underground Railroad by using this Scholastic template. Here, students could identify: what they already knew, questions they still had, facts they learned, and connections made. This Scholastic lesson plan was a great resource for implementing this lesson. There were lots of good starting points that I was able to integrate into the lesson, such as the Thinking Chart, as well as the directions, which offer a ton of ideas including how to find places to pause for class discussion.

    After reading the book, students went back to their Thinking Chart and filled in more about what they learned, questions they might have still, and connections they made. (DOK 1 and 2)

     

    Partner Share

    I opened up our discussion from independent writing and reflecting to partner sharing. Each group of partners had about seven minutes to discuss their questions, facts learned, and connections with one another. This gave students the opportunity to communicate their learning and learn from each other. We had two rotations of partner sharing. After sharing, I had table groups come together to create a working summary for the story. I call it a working summary because it is something that we continue to work on while we are dissecting the story. After a couple of reads, we tend to go back and make changes to our original story summary.

    Students were asked to hold on to their Thinking Sheet because it would be needed for the extension portion of the assignment. The lesson ended there for day one.

     

    Other Ideas

    Here is a template with the DOK grid of tasks that can be presented to students. The activities shown can be done in any setting: independent, small group, whole group, paper assessment. It is what is most comfortable for you as the teacher, based on the needs of your students.

     

     

     

     

    Extension Task

    In preparation for our final task, I made copies of the book on paper for students to use as a learning tool where they could look closely at their reading and use sticky notes to mark and jot notes about their thinking.

    Our final look at this text would require examining from different perspectives. Students were asked to complete a six-room poem. The idea of a six-room poem comes from Georgia Heard’s Awakening the Heart. Students had to pretend they were Henry and describe the box in six different ways using this template. Students needed time to go back into the text and evaluate the box and the symbols of the box and other aspects of the story (bird singing, leaves, trees, etc.). After completing the perspective of the six different rooms, students were invited to make a poem of their own. (DOK 3 and 4)

    Webb’s Depth of Knowledge is a lens that helps educators think about their lessons with cognitive engagement in mind. It is important to remember that not every lesson needs every level of DOK. The value in DOK comes from providing a range of opportunities for students to learn and grow.

    Have you read Henry’s Freedom Box with your class? What kinds of activities did you do with the book? Please share in the comment section below.

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

     

     

     

    Reading instruction has been framed with a need for rigorous learning tasks. Read on to grab ideas on ways to create a range of depth for every learner using Ellen Levine's, Henry's Freedom Box.

    Our district has been emphasizing the importance of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, and how important it is to meet a range in depths when designing learning experiences. According to the New York City’s Department of Education site, “Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK), offers a common language to understand 'rigor,' or cognitive demand, in assessments, as well as curricular units, lessons, and tasks. Webb developed four DOK levels that grow in cognitive complexity and provide educators a lens on creating more cognitively engaging and challenging tasks.” You can learn more about Webb’s DOKs levels and find more valuable resources by visiting The New York City’s Department of Education website.

    With this idea in the back of my mind, I had a plan that I was ready to put in place. We started with a whole class read-aloud of the book, Henry’s Freedom Box, by Ellen Levine. This book tells the story of Henry “Box” Brown and how he has to mail himself in a box in order to gain his freedom.

    Prior to our reading, we activated some background knowledge about slavery and the Underground Railroad by using this Scholastic template. Here, students could identify: what they already knew, questions they still had, facts they learned, and connections made. This Scholastic lesson plan was a great resource for implementing this lesson. There were lots of good starting points that I was able to integrate into the lesson, such as the Thinking Chart, as well as the directions, which offer a ton of ideas including how to find places to pause for class discussion.

    After reading the book, students went back to their Thinking Chart and filled in more about what they learned, questions they might have still, and connections they made. (DOK 1 and 2)

     

    Partner Share

    I opened up our discussion from independent writing and reflecting to partner sharing. Each group of partners had about seven minutes to discuss their questions, facts learned, and connections with one another. This gave students the opportunity to communicate their learning and learn from each other. We had two rotations of partner sharing. After sharing, I had table groups come together to create a working summary for the story. I call it a working summary because it is something that we continue to work on while we are dissecting the story. After a couple of reads, we tend to go back and make changes to our original story summary.

    Students were asked to hold on to their Thinking Sheet because it would be needed for the extension portion of the assignment. The lesson ended there for day one.

     

    Other Ideas

    Here is a template with the DOK grid of tasks that can be presented to students. The activities shown can be done in any setting: independent, small group, whole group, paper assessment. It is what is most comfortable for you as the teacher, based on the needs of your students.

     

     

     

     

    Extension Task

    In preparation for our final task, I made copies of the book on paper for students to use as a learning tool where they could look closely at their reading and use sticky notes to mark and jot notes about their thinking.

    Our final look at this text would require examining from different perspectives. Students were asked to complete a six-room poem. The idea of a six-room poem comes from Georgia Heard’s Awakening the Heart. Students had to pretend they were Henry and describe the box in six different ways using this template. Students needed time to go back into the text and evaluate the box and the symbols of the box and other aspects of the story (bird singing, leaves, trees, etc.). After completing the perspective of the six different rooms, students were invited to make a poem of their own. (DOK 3 and 4)

    Webb’s Depth of Knowledge is a lens that helps educators think about their lessons with cognitive engagement in mind. It is important to remember that not every lesson needs every level of DOK. The value in DOK comes from providing a range of opportunities for students to learn and grow.

    Have you read Henry’s Freedom Box with your class? What kinds of activities did you do with the book? Please share in the comment section below.

    Thank you for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

     

     

     

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