Engaging Students with Suspenseful Fiction - Enhancing the Workshop 6 Experience

Posted by Tashena Vickers - 1 Year Ago

Often, I find that students who don't like reading, just haven't found what they like to read yet. In my own experience with becoming a fluent reader, it was suspenseful, mysterious, and scary books that were my bridge to becoming and avid reader. As an adult, my preference is to read non-fiction, however I enjoy exposing my students to a variety of fiction texts. Workshop #6 - Poe: The Master of Horror is one of the texts in the rBook that makes it so easy to get my students excited about diving into some fiction. Students generally have a good amount of background knowledge in the area of fear and scary movies & stories. The way we do pacing in our district leads to perfect timing for this workshop. We do one workshop a quarter and so for my READ 180 Stage B second year students, we start this workshop in October.

I like to use a couple of fun extras to get them especially excited about the readings. 
     
There is a spot on, short Bio that also gives my students a little further understanding of who Poe was and what his motivation was in writing the frightening fiction he is so well known for.

Since the focus of this workshop is Story Elements, there is a perfect video by Flocabulary that my students get a kick out of. I show them this video after we go over the four story elements on page 148 in the rBook. This video does have five story elements because it includes conflict. I make it a game with the students and ask them to listen for the extra one the video includes and then afterwards it gives me a great opportunity to touch on conflict. If time permits or if my students need a review after a weekend or such, I will play it a couple of times throughout the workshop.

Last year, I really wanted to do something more to ramp up the mood of this workshop. I collected enough small flashlights for all my students. Most of the flashlights were freebies from local businesses or only cost $1 at Wal-Mart. I closed my curtains and turned off all the lights and we read The Fall of the House of Usher by flashlight. We had some short follow up discussion and reflection in the dark as well. When it was time to do the rBook activities, we turned the lights back on. The engagement that I get from my students during this workshop it awesome.

At the end of the year last year, I surveyed my students and overwhelmingly my students said that the Poe Workshop was their favorite!!!

No matter what time of year you end up teaching Workshop 6, I encourage you to make it a spooky and thrilling experience for you students. If you have ideas or strategies you have used to enhance your students' learning and engagement, please share them in the comments below.

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