Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Third Done

Can you believe it? We are 36% of the way through this year. Pretty crazy if you take a minute to ponder it. Plus, with only 15 school days in December, this month is going to f-l-y by.

I hope everyone enjoyed a couple days rest with the Thanksgiving Break we just had. I am pretty recharged for this last little surge of activity to finish out the 2015 school year. So here's what's cookin'...

After looking at a chunk of writing data over the weekend, a few ideas for writing skill groups emerged. I am going to revamp our schedule a little bit to make sure that the handful of students who need a little boost with grammar and mechanics get what they need. Students whose skills are solid in these important areas will be able to do writing enrichment through the Young Writers' Project, which is also very exciting. I suspect that everyone will have the chance to get involved in YWP later in the year.

We are also humming along with our real-world writing project corresponding with students in Liz Greenberg's fifth and sixth grade class over at Robinson School in Starksboro. The kids have exchanged a few getting-to-know-you emails with their ePals and Liz and I are going to shift the focus to writing about reading, with the students conversing about their independent reading books. The skills we will be looking to build here are the students' abilities to support claims with evidence as well as make text-to-text connections.

I have set December 18th as a day for us to have a Share Fair for the American Revolution characters the students have been working to create. Because of schedules and work times, different kids are all over the map with their progress on this project. It is not designed to be homework, though some students are choosing to do activities that require time or materials from outside of class. This is everyone's first big chance to show their stuff and get comfortable communicating with an authentic audience about the work that they do. It should be low-stress for everyone (parents included!) and is really about coming together to check out each other's cool work.

Our theatre and drama Literacy unit is humming nicely. We have stepped into Dream and are learning language and vocabulary specific to this play. Our hope is to present a version of it to a larger audience at some point. I have a great version that mixes original language with modern language that adds comedy and comprehension. The kids are enjoying it. We are mirroring our study of Shakespeare by writing a play of our own. This is letting us look at conflict, character, and theme in a really great way. The conversations that happen at our Writers' Meetings are awesome to listen to and we have already been asked by some of my colleagues to publish when we're through. Cool stuff!

Speaking of publishing, friend of the class Liz Greenberg has asked us to read a middle grades novel that she has been working on. She particularly wants our feedback because it is a story set in a modern middle school that mirrors the story in Dream. The kids are really pumped to be Liz's sounding board and who knows, when she makes it to press, we might be looking at a line or two in the acknowledgements!

Here are some snaps from one of our current history diversions: sensory figures of our Revolutionary War characters:

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