As a pre-reading activity, I conducted a Word Sort to introduce the class novel, Tangerine by Edward Bloor. This open word sort encourages students to critically categorize words associated with the class novel - they shared their logical reasoning for categories.
Before beginning this activity, I asked if students were familiar with a word sort. Several knew that it had to do with categorizing words. I explained that I was going to pass out a pack of words to each group. Together, they should group the words in categories that they feel are appropriate. The categories were not included; it was up to the group to decide upon the category.
In small groups, students became involved in the word sort by discussing why words might be included in various categories. They also needed to discuss which categories were relevant to the words provided. It prompted small group discussion that allowed each student to contribute their reasoning and groups needed to come to a consensus of the categories.
I did not tell the students that all the words are related to the novel we are going to read. It was very interesting to listen to their logic as to how the cards were sorted. Several groups asked if their cards were categorized correctly – my response was that there is no “correct” way.
After the whole class completed their word sort in small groups, I asked students to walk around the classroom observing the word sorts of other groups. Students reflected upon the ways in which other groups categorized their cards. If they saw how another group sorted their cards and wanted to change their own categories, they could go back and make changes.
I reminded them that with word sorts, there is not one correct way to sort the words - it depends upon each group's logical thought process.
After returning to their seats, we had a class discussion about what they observed in their Walk About. Some noticed that words were sorted by Parts of Speech, others were sorted in different categories. I explained that there was not one correct way to sort the cards as long as it made sense to the group.
However, I had an idea in mind as to how to sort them - related to the novel, Tangerine. I asked groups to share one category; I chose a group that had one of my categories. We then went through the words in each of my categories.
I asked the class what do you think these words have in common. In each class, there were several students that thought it related to the novel, Tangerine, that we were going to read.
Then I asked, "Do you think you might be interested in this novel after realizing that the novel addresses each of the words included in this word sort?" Most said yes, others asked are all these topics in the story? When I replied yes, they said they were very interested in this novel.