Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Non-Fiction Scrolls in the College Classroom

One day, on Pinterest, I saw a pin that showed kids on the floor with long "scrolls" of text. I clicked on it and read about how this elementary school teacher tapped the students' papers together instead of making a packet and had them annotating the texts. I tucked this idea away for awhile.

Finally, this semester I found a way to incorporate it in my class. My students needed to find quotes that they could use to analyze fairytales from the introduction to The Classic Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar. Understanding the entire article was not really the focus of this exercise. The article is rather long so I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to try the scroll activity.

First, I printed out the introduction.  I made sure to print it single sided and made one copy for every 3-4 students in my classes. I then took the time to tape each piece of paper edge to edge. (I found a small piece at the top and at the bottom of each page worked well).  This was a little bit time consuming but it's something you could definitely have a student help with.

Then I rolled them each up and secured with a paper clip.

In class, I showed my students examples of the types of quotes they were looking for.  I told them they'd be working in groups to find and highlight any part of the text that fit the criteria I'd laid out.  I wish I'd been able to tell them ahead of time to bring high lighters- it works best, I think, if each person has a different color.

I made each group leave the classroom and find a quiet area to work.  I wanted them to have to get up and move! (My one class is at 8am!) I told them they could take turns looking at each section or they could each look at 2 pages but that as a group they should be able to find at least 10 examples.

Once we came back into the classroom I had them designate one person as "Master of the Scroll."  I then started asking - what's the first example you found? If I agreed with it I gave it a number and marked it on my scroll too so that we could have a common language.  What was super cool was that a few students found examples that I hadn't even found originally!

After we found the examples I told them to each pick one to use when writing their paper.  Within their groups no one could repeat an example.  (This was purely so I wouldn't get bored reading their papers.) I had told them to copy down the quotes, but a few had the genius idea to just take a picture with their phones! In the future that is what I will instruct them to do in the first place.

This video shows four of the scrolls marked up. 

As I was dismissing class I did a quick thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs to the side survey and most students had their thumbs up and a few to the side. None put their thumbs down.  And, then, at the end of the semester on my course survey a few students listed this activity as one that I should repeat in the future.

I think I might have them look for rhetorical devices, transitions, etc in the future with other articles, speeches, etc.  What uses can you think of?

Thanks for reading! 


  1. What a great idea! My students tend to struggle with group work (seeing it more as 'great now I do less' rather than 'we can do more') but this seems to be one where collaboration is essential!

  2. Thanks for sharing how this worked in a secondary classroom. I'm going to file it away, too, and look for a good opportunity to fit it in!