Thursday, May 21, 2009

826 Michigan

The end of the year tends to be so busy that sometimes I forget to publicize events from the classroom. Wanted to let you know about the big project that was launched Tuesday in conjunction with a non-profit writing center in Ann Arbor, 826 Michigan. 

826 is an organization dedicated to providing free writing instruction to kids ages 6-18. They have offices in many cities across the country. Last year, 826 volunteers came to my classroom to help my students write mysteries. This led to some of the best writing I'd ever seen produced by students in an elementary school. Two of their stories were even published by 826 Michigan in their "Best Of 826" anthology!

This time around, they've turned the classroom into a product development office. Students will be "working" for an as-yet unnamed department store, designing new products and writing about them in a way that would make people want to buy them.

Tuesday, they brainstormed ideas. Today, they'll be building models and making detailed sketches. Next week, they'll start their writing and the last week of school, we'll have a publication party where we unveil our work!

Sounds pretty awesome, I know. The folks from 826 are some of my favorite people in the entire world. They've helped me, and the rest of our 4th/5th grade staff, become better teachers of writing. If you'd like to learn more about their Ann Arbor center, click here: or if you'd like to learn more about their national organization as well as their centers around the country, try this one: .

And stay tuned for more updates from our product development team!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Detroit's Finest

What an exciting day we had today. We were scheduled to be visited by the Special Response Team of the Detroit Police Department (a.k.a. the SWAT team). Well, at 9:30 I got a call saying that the team was dealing with a "barricaded gunman" and wouldn't be able to come. Our hearts sank.

You see, the SWAT team was visiting because of the hard work of Lemuel Spratt. Lemuel wrote a letter this winter to the Detroit police chief explaining why he thought being on the SWAT team was a great job to have. Apparently, the chief liked it enough to forward it to someone on the team, and that person liked it enough to promise to visit our school. Lemuel and all of us had been looking forward to this for a long time. As you can see, we had good reason to be disappointed.

BUT about 45 minutes later, the phone rang again. The gunman had been apprehended and the team was on its way! Hooray! They visited with 5 officers as well as their armored vehicle and their "tank." Officer Brown and his crew taught us all about what the SWAT team does and even let students inside the vehicles. In all, they stayed for over 2 hours and every student in the school got to meet them. 

Writing letters can make a difference...what a powerful lesson. Thanks, Lemuel. Great work!

Third Trimester Exhibition Organizer

Students are using this to keep track of their work. We've been making progress in class, especially with the writing portion. Need something to work on at home? Focus on the INTEREST PROJECT.

Third Trimester Exhibition Organizer

Monday, May 11, 2009

Third Trimester Exhibitions

Here is the checklist for the upcoming Exhibition:

3rd Trimester Exhibition Checklist 0809 Grade4
I sent one home with students last week. Today I sent home sign up sheets for Exhibition times. I'll assign those on a first come, first served basis. Please choose at least three times in case there are any conflicts. Thanks!