Thursday, February 25, 2010

Won't You Celebrate With Me

February has been very busy, but we've made sure to include some activities for African American History Month. Our village meetings have provided an in-depth study of slavery in America. Although it is the worst part of our nation's history, it still needs to be examined. Mrs. Drain has led us through several activities that focus on how African Americans triumphed over this terrible thing.

In our class this week, I've chosen some poems by African American poets that are pretty powerful. Like I told the students today, we've read numerous poems by black poets this year, but the ones I chose this week uniquely reflect the experiences of African Americans.

Yesterday, we read "Frederick Douglass" by Robert Hayden, a poem about the renown abolitionist. You can read the poem here but I also encourage you to check out this video of a high school student reading the poem at the finals of the national Poetry Out Loud competition:

Today, we read "won't you celebrate by me" by Lucille Clifton. Ms. Clifton recently passed away and I thought sharing this poem was a good way to honor her contributions to the world of poetry:

won't you celebrate with me


won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?

Tomorrow, we'll be reading "I, Too" by perhaps my all-time favorite poet, Langston Hughes.
This fairly short poem makes a powerful statement about overcoming the degradation of
segregation in the early 20th century.

I, Too


I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I hope you're able to take some time out of your day to enjoy these poems. We've done so much with poetry this year and the children continue to impress me with their insight and with their writing skills.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The New Hotness

Ok, so you know how I like to try new things, especially when it comes to projects. Well, I'm attempting to unveil two new technologies at this trimester's Exhibition: iMovie and Glogster.

We used iMovie for our writing project, a movie based around a visual response poem. I am almost certain that they turned out splendidly. We'll see when they are premiered next week. Keep in mind that they might be a little rough around the edges, but it was an experiment, and a very involved experiment at that. I can't wait to see them. For the most part, they're all done. The only students that didn't finish theirs were ones that were absent on Friday. I'll do my best to make sure they have something to show.

Glogster is a program where you can create a "Glog," which is basically a digital poster. We used Glogster today for their reading project. These glogs are stored online, so they can be accessed and worked on at home. Students know their usernames and passwords. If they forgot them, they can access them in the class GMail account. (They know how to do this, I showed them today.) Again, this was quite an experiment. We'll see how they turn out. Students will get a chance to work on them again the remaining days of this week. Extra work at home, of course, will help.

Keep in mind that our other amazing project, the Virtual Field Trip must be presented at the Exhibition, as well. This can and should be worked on at home. It's stored on the class wiki and students definitely know how to get to it.

I'm very proud of how well my students work with computers. They pick up on things very quickly. I really feel like the time we spend with technology is time well spent because we're using it to enhance important skills. In other words, we're working on important fifth grade academic skills and making them more interesting, meaningful, and engaging by using technology along the way.