Saturday, May 26, 2012

Harry Potter: Still in School

I think I have made it clear that I follow A LOT of blogs.  I have become addicted to blog reading and I LOVE my Blogger Reading List.  One of my favourites is Reading Buddies.   Damien over at Reading Buddies has put out a call for help.  Being the Harry Potter Fan and Helping Spirit that I am, today I am answering the call.  Damien teaches fifth grade in the US and has a Harry Potter theme in his classroom.  Over the course of the year the class reads the first two Harry Potter books.  Damien wants to change things up a bit and would like some fresh perspectives.  Well here you go Damien...


My "old" teaching partner did Harry Potter (the second book) with learning support students in year 8.  I have included some of the activities she did as well as some of my own ideas. 

Spells and Greek/ Latin Roots

Students identified all the spells in the book listed them.  They then discussed how JK Rowling used latin roots to write the spells.  Then, the teacher gave them more everyday tasks in modern English and her students researched the latin roots and used the information to create their own spells. 
On a side note: there are quite a few Potterheads among the staff at our school and they all have "wands" which they would often bring along when passing the learning support classroom.  Rarely a lesson went by without a teacher's head and wand sneaking into the classroom and casting a spell towards the students.  This would often result in the kids running out the door and a spell casting barrage down the hallway as the visiting teacher would run away and duck behind a bulletin board.  Few believed our non-readers were spouting latin roots like swear words. 

Parseltongue Variations

While we are on the language front... Parseltongue is obviously a snake language.  Listening to Harry speak it (in the film) sounds like a hissing and slithering of the toungue.  I wonder what the language of other animals sounds like.  Perhaps the students could create a cat language or better yet an owl language using hoots, clicks and squawks.  They could translate it into English.

Spin Off Texts

I am sure you are aware of JK Rowling's other books that have been published to raise funds for Comic Relief.  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemQuidditch Through the Ages and of course The Tales of Beadle the Bard, are all mentioned in the Harry Potter Books and can now be purchased by Potterheads to add to their library.  So, use these books as "reference" material to create a profile of a magical creature, or to create a Quidditch Board Game. 

Reading Space

In my opinion, every classroom should have a reading space with a variety of books from all the genres.  It should be comfortable and inviting.  The reading space in your room could take many forms including; the Gryffindor Common Room, the Flying Blue Ford, the Forbidden Forrest, The girls' bathroom, the Hogwarts' Express.


Obviously the students have to have a diary.  If only it could talk back to them.

Hogwart's Crest (personal qualities, history, latin, art, symbolism)

Decorate the room with the Hogwart's Crest and group students in the houses.  They could write a letter to the Sorting Hat explaining which house they want to be in and why.  Better yet, divide the class into four groups and get them to create a "house" within your classroom.  Then the class needs to design a crest with a component from each house and a (latin) motto displayed at the bottom. 

Classroom Design/ Theme

Use 'brick' work and 'paintings' to decorate your room at the beginning of the year and gradually replace paintings with student work/ creations.  Brickwork decor stays where it is and work simply attaches over the top.  OR... the brickwork could be the base for a word wall. 
Areas of your room could be specific areas/ places in the Harry Potter World.  For example: where students line up to move around the school becomes Platform 9 3/4.  They travel around the school as The Hogwart's Express.  I have already mentioned the reading space.  Science area/ centre could be the Dungeons where Harry and his friends go to Potions Classes.  Maths space could be a defence against the dark arts classroom or the greenhouse.  Group area is the Great Hall.  I think you get the picture.

Word Wall

My teaching partner, made a large witch's hat (2D) and across the band it said "Wizarding Words" and attached it to the wall.  As the class read the book specific Wizarding Words were added to the hat and the surrounding space on the wall.  This gave the students a ready reference when completing the written task at the end of the unit as well as introducing the idea of sorting words according to meaning. 

Cover Art Designs

Start by covering your walls with various cover designs for each of the Harry Potter books.  There are several different cover designs for each book so it would not be at all difficult to find some.  A simple google image search brought up thousands of pictures of cover art.  While reading the book/s with the students discuss the different cover designs and why each may have been used.  It is interesting to note that some cover art was specifically designed to appeal to adult readers while other designs were aimed at younger readers.  Some fans are determined to own a few sets of the books ensuring that each set has a different cover art series.  When a new cover is designed for one book, the rest of the books in the series are also given a face lift.  While reading the books students could design their own cover and write about the different covers for the book as well. 


I believe in having many "words" around my classroom because if the kids aren't listening to me... which of course they always are... I hope they are reading things around the room.  There are loads of quotes about friendship, self worth, persistence, problem solving, hope, education/ learning etc from Harry Potter Books that you can place around the room (perhaps along the top of the wall) where students can read and reflect on them. 

Examples/ Non-Examples of Good Students

Ron is not the greatest student in anyone's world.  Hermione perhaps goes a little overboard.  You could do character profiles and use Ron as an example of "what not to do" to be a good student.  You could also discuss how Hermione over does it a little and struggles to have a balance between learning and relaxing.  This sometimes makes her irritating to teachers as she is a bit of a know-it-all.  Perhaps this is how she becomes attracted to the boys who are mostly good but seem to find themselves in quite a bit of trouble.  You could also make comparisons between teachers in the book. 

I am sure there are heaps more theme ideas going around the place and I will encourage everyone to get onto Google and Twurdy to find more resources for their classrooms. 

Damien, I hope you have found something here that helps.  Please bear in mind that I don't know what you already do in your room or what is appropriate for your school context.  But I wanted to help so I hope that I did.  I can't wait to see the "changes" in your classroom.  
:) as always


The Reading Buddies said...

These Ideas are awesome. I am definitely going to add the Gryffindor common room into my reading section. I already have the maroon carpet and everything. This year, (thanks to pinterest) I have found quite a few beautifully designed HP quotes to add in my room. They are quite profound and I love discussing a good quote with my kiddos. I just recently downloaded something from TPT about having the students examine the latin roots to decipher spells. I like your idea about creating spells as well. Your ideas are GREAT and I appreciate your assistance SOOOOO much. I am adding a link to my blog post about my HP themed classroom so that you can have a look in.

Thanks SO much you totally made my day!

The Reading Buddies said...

P.S. I just became your newest follower! :0)

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