Friday, May 28, 2010

More More More

Do you ever feel like all I do is ask you for stuff? Money for the bus, money for breakfast, money for the carnival, blah blah, blah. Well, before you get too annoyed, I have one more request. I'd really like to print out every kid's poems and bind them together for their exhibition. Having a poetry book they wrote themselves as a keepsake would be really nice, I think.

However, I am really low on paper here at school. Is there anyone out there able to donate a ream or two of plain white copier/printer paper? It would help out a lot. And seeing their poems all together and having them to keep forever will be more than worth it.


The Return of 826Michigan

My good friends at 826Michigan, a non-profit writing center in Ann Arbor, visited our class four times in the past two weeks. Just like they did last year, they ran a project intended to engage students in meaningful (and fun) writing.

This year's theme was "Social Justice." We learned that our old friend/nemesis, Jimmy Jimereeno, is running a sweatshop in the country of Cabo del Cabo. The factory is staffed by children from a local boarding school. The students wrote a protest song, wrote strongly worded letters, started a blog, and organized a demonstration protesting Jimmy's diabolical tactics.

If you check out the photo slideshow in the blog's sidebar, you can see that the protest rally was a resounding success. I really think students learned a powerful lesson about social justice and making a change in their community and world.

Stay tuned for a video that captures the highlights of the protest. In the meantime, please check out the blog the kids created and have already begun posting to about things other than just unfair labor practices. Also, check out the 826Michigan homepage to see what great things are going on there.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Author Study Overview

The Author Study is due next week. It should be typed. It should be six paragraphs. Here's an overview of what each paragraph should contain:

  1. Information about the author, including their thoughts on the writing process and biographical information. A Google search for the author's name should give you all you need. I highly recommend Googling your author's name and the word "interview" to get the best info. Many authors give great information in interviews that you can read or watch online.
  2. A summary of the first book you read.
  3. A summary of the second book you read.
  4. A summary of the third book you read.
  5. A comparison of the books. How are the three books alike? How are they different?
  6. A recommendation. Why should other people read books by this author? Give reasons and explanations.
By now, their paragraphs should have 5-8 sentences (or more) each. This is a project we've been working on a long time. I'll be looking for their best work. Please help to make sure that they are pushing forward to finish it up on time. And if they're done with it...after you use my catch phrase, have them add to their project by creating a glog (like the one they did at their last exhibition) about their author and the books they read.

Milestone 4

Many final Gateway Exhibition projects are due next Thursday, June 3. The following must be done:

  • Poetry Book
  • Mythology Newspaper
  • Mythology Movie
  • Author Study
  • Stock Market Project
Two things that can be worked on at home are typing poems for the poetry book and typing the author study. Students know how to use Google Docs to do this, and many of them are almost finished with their typing.

The most extensive project is the Poetry Book, which should have all the poems we've written this year (about 34!). Here's a list of what they need to have:

This coming Memorial Day weekend would be a good time to work on wrapping these things up. Many students will be bringing home their mythology newspapers and stock market projects to finish.

Is your child claiming to be done with everything? Drop my favorite (and their least favorite) quote on them: "When you're done, you've just begun." They will be furious with you. In a hilarious way, of course.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Poetry Recitation

This week, students chose the poems that they will recite from memory at their Gateway Exhibition. This is NOT something that should be left to the last minute. These need to be practiced over and over. And over.

My requirements were that it has to be one of the 96 (ninety-six!!!) poems we've read and discussed this year, and that it has to be at least 8 lines long.

This week we talked about reading poems aloud. I encouraged them to decide where they would pause, which words they would "punch" (stress or emphasize), and which words they would "paint" (say with a flourish). We practiced reading a few out loud, too.

IF they've been saving their poems in their poetry binders (they are reminded to do this every time we read a poem...but you know how that is), then they should have a copy of the poem already. If for whatever reason, they don't have a copy, most poems can be found with a Google search. On Monday, I'll make sure everyone has a copy.

My hope is that some of the poems we've read this year will be things that the children carry with them for the rest of their lives. And hopefully the poem they recite is one they really enjoy and one that has special meaning to them.

Helpful Resources

As you know, students will have to have a few things memorized to present at their Gateway Exhibition. First of all, they will be shown a blank map of the United States. I will pick 20 states and they will have to name each one. We've been practicing at school this week, but this is definitely going to require work at home. Here are some links that might help:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Necessary Evil

Okay, let me start by saying I'm a father of three. I understand that these kids soak up money like it was their job. That being said, this is why I hate writing this post. As a parent, I know that money is hard to come by. As a teacher, I know that I have to ask for it in order for some things to happen. And the end of the year is when I have to come asking you to pay the piper.

Here are some things we'll be needing money for in the next few weeks (and when we'll be needing it).

1. Detroit Poetry Tour--We're taking a DDOT bus downtown and riding the People Mover. The hope is to find some inspiration for poems about our city. There aren't that many poems out there about Detroit. I want my students to create some. Date of trip: May 14. Cost: $4 A bag lunch will also be required for all students! (Money needed by Monday, May 10).

2. Carnival Basket--It's carnival time again. Each class is creating a basket for a special raffle. Please, if you can, donate $2-3 for this. I'll handle the shopping. This raffle always earns a lot of money for the school. I hope you can help out.

3. Commencement Morning Breakfast---I don't have all the details yet, but I do know the cost will be about $10. This will cover one student and two parents for a breakfast before the Fifth Grade Promotion Ceremony on June 18. Money will be due in early June.

For now, that's it. I withhold the right to beg for more cash as things come up. :)

Time Management

I just realized it's been over 10 days since my last blog post. This is because I haven't been managing my time as well as I should. I've been focused on my work at school and haven't taken the time to keep parents up to date.

So, I understand as well as anyone that not everyone is perfect when it comes to using time wisely. Especially 10 and 11 year-olds. I'm trying to help them stay on track as much as possible. But just as we adults need a little help from time to time, so do the children.

Please keep communicating with your child about how they're doing with their progress on the Gateway projects. Also, please keep communicating (in other words "bugging them") about their homework. We have a lot going on, and only about 6 weeks until Exhibition Week. They need my help...and yours. I need your help, too.

Here are three things you can follow up on at home to make sure your child is working on what they're supposed to be:

  1. AUTHOR STUDY--Are their three books completed? Have they filled out a Story Map for each book? Have they written a paragraph summary of each? All of these things should be done by now.
  2. COLLEGE POSTER--Have they typed their essay (preferably on Google Docs)? Have they typed their "Fast Facts?" (Also on Google Docs) Have you purchased a posterboard? Posters are due May 20!
  3. POETRY BOOK--Have they written all the required poems? (By now, they should have all of them done, except the "Detroit Poetry Tour Poems," which we'll be writing during the second and third weeks of May) Have they typed all these poems? (Again, Google Docs is the choice for typing) Have they created a colorful, illustrated title page? This project is my "baby," and we've been working on it all year, so I really want them to shine on this one
  4. HOMEWORK--Are they doing their Study Links? By the end of May, they should have 32 out of 40 done. Are they doing their POWs?
Okay, that was four. This Exhibition is so important, I can't possibly limit myself to three things!

This week, we'll continue working on all ongoing projects and we'll begin working on the final parts of the Mythology Project. We'll also introduce the Picture Book project, which will be something that will mainly be worked on at home. Stay tuned for (more frequent) updates.