What would happen if a character from William Shakespeare’s play Othello found themselves in a dystopian world where status was based not on social class, but on social media? What might change if an anxious young woman entrapped by her need to conform was able to exchange letters with a fierce teenager in Côte d’Ivoire whose defiance of social norms enabled her to pursue a career as a doctor? 

These are just some of the scenarios imagined by Grade 10 students for their final English project of the year.

Our Grade 10 students had to complete a creative synthesis project, requiring them to examine two or more texts, characters, authors, and/or text types from different topics. The learning objective for this task was: How do I develop a line of inquiry that demonstrates my understanding of texts from across the year and showcases my learning in a format of my choosing?

Before creating their project, students reflected on their learner portfolios and developed a line of inquiry: How might two different characters from two different texts view today’s technological advances? How would seeing a poem illustrated as a graphic novel highlight key themes or ideas?

Students had both voice and choice in how to demonstrate their learning, selecting the works they wanted to explore and how they wanted to be assessed: some created films, social media accounts, or pages from a graphic novel while others created political ads, advice from therapists, or postcards.

On Friday, June 10, all Grade 10 students shared their projects in an “exhibition” attended by their peers and teachers. It was clear from these presentations that students had chosen texts and formats that they found interesting, engaging, and challenging. 

Giving students voice and choice allowed them to take greater ownership of their work. And while students were given class time to work on their projects, they also set their own deadlines and expectations, determining how they wanted to manage their time. By giving them the space during English class to share with other students and celebrate their achievements, students were also given the opportunity to showcase their hard work and take pride in their learning.

Nicole Gough, Grade 10 English teacher