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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Reading Workbooks  >  High School
Angel Card Discussion Techniques
By Rhonda Gardner, Chugiak High School

When we've completed a full-length novel or play, it is often difficult to focus discussion and make sure that everyone is involved. In an attempt to alleviate those two problems, I began using this technique that was inspired by Angel Cards that many people draw as a daily source of inspiration.

The day of discussion, I greet the students at the door with a bowl containing words relating thematically to the work we've read. Each student draws a word, and then I give them 10-15 minutes to write down all the associations they can make between that word and the text. I then randomly draw words from a second stash I have, and that individual has to start the discussion on how that word relates to the play or novel. After that, anyone can chime in with additional ideas, examples, etc. With subsequent words, students are amazed to find that they all relate to the words that have come previously (Isn't it amazing how authors do this?). This sort of discussion can take days, but it is well worth it!

Below are examples of the words I use for Hamlet and King Lear.

Hamlet Words
Frailty, Rashness, Ambition, Garden, Insanity, Revenge, Clarity, Nature, Punishment, Knowledge, Passion, Necessity, Reason, Time, Divinity, Loyalty, Honor, Truth, Repentance, Traps, Justice, Indirection, Betrayal, Friendship, 'War, Perception, Value, Disease, Poison, Action, Love, Trust

King Lear Words
Betrayal, Deception, Disguise, Madness, Storm, Clothing, Loyalty, Family, Fool, Treachery, Reconciliation, Defense, Protection, Guidance, Blindness, Redemption, Duty, Power, Pain, Age, Wisdom, Touch, Love, Respect, Father

About the Author: Rhonda Gardner has been teaching English at Chugiak High School since 1987. An acclaimed teacher, Gardner received a 2001 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, which carries with it a prize of $25,000. Gardner was also named BP Teacher of Excellence in 1999 and Chugiak Teacher of the Year in 1988.

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