|Cindy P Gates, Artist||
We are reading "TKM" these days, and the students have posted blogs on their Language Arts pages. They were asked to choose a theme that runs through the first part of the book. In addition, they had to use three new words from the book that they didn't know. These were supposed to be incorporated into their writing. We also watched the introduction and credits to the 1962 movie starring Gregory Peck. The symbolism at the beginning is rich, and the cinematography is terrific. We discussed how the black and white film captures the Southern Gothic theme.
So much work has gone into making these websites. Each student took a tour of his or her work since the beginning of this year. Each entry required a reflection of progress: an evaluation of what the project was, what went well, what was difficult, what was learned, and other information of interest.
We hope that you will look carefully at the work presented and leave comments that recognize these students as authentic and successful readers and writers. Feel free to comment on any or all student websites. One of the purposes of this project is to widen the audience my students have for their work. (This is infinitely more interesting than writing for your teacher only!) They would love to know what you think. To comment, please click on the blue comment link at the top of each entry.
Again, welcome! You will be amazed, as am I!
(In an ideal world, all content would be error free. The students and I have made every effort to make their work grammatically accurate, yet with the amount of writing and manipulation of the Weebly tools, errors may slipped through the cracks. Rest assured that every attempt has been made to present accurate work. At the same time, errors in writing can be used as formative assessment of student work. We can use these errors as guidelines for instruction. If you have questions about this process, feel free to contact me. )
So that we are ready to understand the setting of this book, students were given separate research topics. They then posted their information on the Voicethread you see below.
If you are having trouble reading these, please go to http://voicethread.com/share/864861/
Today we set up e-portfolios using the Weebly site. It's a simple, user-friendly application. We can drag and drop all kinds of things into web pages: You Tube videos, blogs, photos, voicethreads, Glogster posters, and documents (and oh-so-much-more). The portfolios will be used to showcase the great work the students are doing. They will also be places for students to reflect on their learning. Click on the links to the right to visit the student sites. Since we are in the process of making them, there isn't much up yet, but that will change soon.
Yes, poetry lives in the Language Arts classroom! Last week we worked on odes, following in the footsteps of Pablo Neruda who made a mark writing about everyday objects like artichokes and broken things. We seem to have quite a number of odes to cars this year. Hmmm...everyday objects? Bugattis? I wonder.
This week we will explore English sonnets. It sounds stuffy, but when we stomp out the rhythms in class with our feet and drag our back legs like peg-legged pirates, sonnets seem to come to life. My students will "discover" the format on their own by analyzing sonnets written by Shakespeare and sonnets written by former students. They aren't as stuffy as one would imagine, but they DO follow some very specific rules. I always enjoy how my students can take a formal structure and turn it on its end with a contemporary subject. You might even hear a few sonnets or odes at our Poetry Reading on November 11th.
Every year I go to conferences where other teachers lament that their students "hate" poetry. I am fortunate. Though some may profess disinterest, I see something different in class. When I see a student smiling because of a well-chosen word or a clever subject, I realize how lucky I am to teach my students. It is not always thus in other places. I watch my students share their work with each other. Would a student who "hates" poetry do that? No. How great is that?
Next we move on to narrative poetry. Have you heard "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service? Remember "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere?" "The Raven?" "The Highwayman?" I wonder what stories MY students will tell!
On the Voice Thread below, please tell us what you write. You can use your webcam, your microphone, or you can type in your response. See my example. All writing must be in standard English. Write your response on a Word document first, spell check, and then copy. This is also a time to include your avatar!
Read the previous blog entry for information about these videos. Most students worked in groups. Caitlin was the only student in her class to read Speak. Chloe used iMovie on her Mac. Enjoy!
Kazim, Jack, and Drew
Brandon, Gabriella, and Brett
Aaron, Gabe, and Joey
Emily, Eli, and Kyle
Jonny, Ben, and Ashley
James and Alanna
Kat, Mila, and Shoopie
Wait until you see what your students did last week! After our study of sentence structures, they used multiple types of sentences to describe the story elements in their summer reading books. Working in groups, the students had to evaluate the images and sentences they chose individually to make a group presentation in Photostory 3. This assignment combined many language arts objectives: sentence construction, story elements, imagery, collaboration, and speaking. I will try to get them loaded onto this page. Stay tuned!
This week's "Weekly Reader" assignment involved essays from www.thisibelieve.com. Students chose their own essays and wrote responses. Their work this week was significantly better than their work before! In fact, I am so impressed with their depth of thought and analytical prowess. When I get the eportfolios figured out, you will be able to read some of them. These assignments keep them culturally literate and help them analyze the veracity of information they receive.
I am so grateful to you all for helping make the start of the year magnificent. I loved seeing parents at Back to School Night. I wish the SMART Board had been a bit more spectacular, but it is now back in commission.
And as for my students? I am impressed with the way you have buckled down to do much better work. Many of your comments on your essays were very thoughtful. I am sure that I would see marked improvement if I asked you to rewrite them. Take those lessons and apply them to your next Weekly Reader assignment.
Thank you, also, for your hard work this week on writing sentences with varied structures. This narration is important, because you will be using your sentences to move on to the next stage of your summer reading assignment. It involves collaboration. I'll fill you in tomorrow.
Eighth graders were asked to "read" two of the three education speeches by President Obama, President Reagan, and President George. H. Bush. ("Read" is in quotation marks because they were actually watching the videos of the speeches.) I put the text of the speeches in www.wordle.net, and the graphics of the speeches are below. The larger the word, the more frequently it is used in the text. It is a brilliant tool. Can you tell which is President Obama's? President Reagan's? President Bush's? Please respond and let us know your guesses.