Sunday, November 23, 2014

Jake Shimabukuro at Hill Auditorium

Jake ShimabukuroWOW.

In his young career, Hawaiian ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro has already redefined a heretofore under-the-radar instrument, been declared a musical “hero” by Rolling Stone, earned comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, and even played in front of the Queen of England.  from the UMS website

I hadn’t heard of this guy before this year.  He’s a genius.  He put on an amazing show and got kids not only excited about music, but the UKULELE!  What’s better than a cool UMS performance!?  A visit from our very own John Sperendi BEFORE the concert!  John shared his musical knowledge and ukulele love with the class before we headed to Hill Auditorium.  John shared two ukuleles, one traditional and one COOLER THAN COOLmade from an old cigar box.  Three cheers to Joey Parins, our amazing music teacher, John Sperendi, our resident ukulele dude and Jake Shimabukuro ukulele LEGEND.  Bravo!
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school until now.  He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep. And if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard it can be.  The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face.  But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
This is the publisher’s description of our current book Wonder.  As with our other books, they have been captured.  There are SO many amazing things to say about this book.  They are HORRIFIED by how August is treated and would be eager friends if he happened to walk into our classroom.   I love the reaction when I stop reading”WHAT!?  WHY ARE YOU STOPPING!?” or “ARE YOU KIDDING?  YOU ARE GOING TO STOP THERE!?”  Always a good sign.  Reading a book out loud gives us a lot of opportunities to discuss what is happening in the book and our reactions to it.  There are so many wonderful aspects to this book.  We will begin to discuss POINT OF VIEW in depth and this book is a spectacular way to begin our discussion.  The story begins with Auggie telling the story, but soon switches to his sister Via, his friend Summer, friend Jack, and even Via’s boyfriend Justin.  They tell the story from their point of view including specific moments as seen by everyone. 

Our anchor chart (pictured) is started as soon as we start a new book.  We continue to add to the chart as we read.  Thoughts, ideas, questions, quotes, important information, and anything that we feel important enough to include will be added as we read.  If necessary, we will add another page to our chart. 

What can you do at home?  Ask them to tell you about what we’ve read.  Ask them to explain who was telling the story, and what differences there were in point of views.  As with any book, we will also keep track of vocabulary words.  One such word is PRECEPT.  This is an important word in the book and will be something we will continue to talk about after we’ve finished reading the book.  A precept is a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.  A teacher in the book has a precept each month and asks the students to write what they think it means.  The precepts (rules to live by) are:
“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”  - Dr. Wayne Dyer
“Your deeds are your monuments.” Inscription on ancient Egyptian tomb
“Have no friends not equal to yourself.” Confucious
“Fortune favors the bold.” Virgil
“No man is an island, entire of itself.” John Donne
“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” James Thurber
“Kind words do not cost much.  Yet they accomplish so much.” Blaise Pascal
“What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful.” Saphho
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can.” John Wesley
“Just follow the day and reach for the sun.” The Polyphonic Spree
 “Everyone deserves a standing ovation because we all overcometh the world.” Auggie Pullman


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Digging Deeper

Readers use THINKMARKS to show their thinking
How fun was this lesson!?  It happened over a few days, reading our National Geographic Explorer magazine.  On the first day, we talked about the sticky notes on the left side (the rest of the page was blank) and talked about various books we have read as a class (Holes, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane) and talked about parts we could mark with a sticky note.  In our next session, I posed the question “What about NONFICTION?” and was thrilled to hear the conversation that followed.  They had great ideas (our Surprising Fact sticky was a great suggestion!) and worked hard to compare fiction and nonfiction text  and how they would change up their sticky note when reading nonfiction.  On our third day, we brought part of the Nat Geo article into the mix.  As we read, we talked about things that jumped out (vocabulary words, cool facts, things we didn’t know, etc.) and marked our findings with our sticky note flags.  We also used a highlighter which is a fantastic tool to use when digging deeper into text.  Obviously, it’s not always possible, but when viable, it’s awesome.  These lessons are a way to focus on something called Close Reading.  Close Reading requires students to get involved with the text they are reading noticing features about the piece they may have overlooked before.  Having kids interact with the text gives them an opportunity for them to learn how to slow down and absorb more meaning in the texts they read.  This isn’t something we do for every text, but a strategy we will be able to use throughout our lives to understand what we read and use the information gained in a variety of ways. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Writing in room in room 306

What goes into a GREAT paragraph?  Details!  Interesting word choices!  Varying length of sentences!  Today we talked about paragraph writing.  We have been working on our letters a LOT lately and writing a solid paragraph is an essential part of this process.  The paragraphs we looked at were about Presley and the kids easily identified the better paragraph and had a variety of reasons for why it was better.  Here’s what they noticed about the first paragraph:  Not a lot of details.  Used the words A LOT, a lot.  J 
Presley is my dog.  She’s super cute.  I love her a lot and she makes me laugh a lot.  She does crazy stuff.  Presley is a spaniel with long ears.  She is brown and white.  Presley loves the water and is a great swimmer.  I like swimming with her.   She likes getting presents.  Sometimes she barfs.  It’s not fun when she does. 

Presley Marie O’Malley McGee is a dork.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s a loveable, funny, adorable, goofy dork, but a dork none the less.  Presley is almost 8.  Her birthday is February 3 and she LOVES to open any kind of present.  She even opens presents that aren’t for her.  She rips off the paper and spits it out, tossing it aside.  It’s messy, but really funny to watch.  Presley brings us a lot of joy.  And barf.  She’s barfs a lot.  Where does she barf?  She will not barf on the tile floor, if that’s what you’re thinking.  No sir, she will ONLY barf on the carpet in our bedroom.  If she’s downstairs, ON THE TILE, she will go UPSTAIRS TO THE CARPETING in order to barf.  Who does that!?  Presley.  Presley is a water dog.  She doesn’t have webbed feet, but she acts like she does.  She swims laps in Lake Huron and boards the Ellen or Doogie dock when she gets tired.   Her “dock” is one of us standing in the water, holding our arms out so she can come aboard.  She rests for a few minutes and then goes on her merry wayswimming and swimming and swimming.  If there were a dog Olympics, she’d qualify for sure.  Presley Marie O’Malley McGee is one of the best things in my life.  The world is a better place because she is a part of it.  I love that goofy dog. 

Here’s what they noticed about the second paragraph:
Great details.  She barfs a lot.  In this paragraph there was more information about the same topics like how much she likes the water.  Interesting words were used. 

Writing is a tough subject to learn.  It takes a lot of hard work and rewriting.  We will continue to practice our writing skills every single day this year.  We write lists, paragraphs, notes, letters, ideas, webs, and so much more.  While we are reading a book as a class, we take a lot of time to talk about what we are reading.  These notes are posted around the room to remind us what’s happening and things we may want to write about in future letters.  This is an amazing part of the writing and reading process.  Our conversations are magnificent.  They are eager to talk about every aspect of the book and I’m convinced they love the book even MORE because of this process.  They learn a lot about the book and what the people around them think too.  It’s truly a spectacular part of the learning process.  I LOVE every single moment and am always thrilled to hear them discover new things as we talk about our books together. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Game Day with Mrs. Hahn's Class

Two Classes…a TON of game fun!

What’s better than playing math games?  Playing math games with Mrs. Hahn’s class!  Spiral multiplication, Q-bitz, Q-bitz Extreme, Equate, domino multiplication war, Sum-duko, Flip 4so many math games, so much fun.  Kids had a ball playing games we have recently learned with a new group of friends.  It was great seeing them work with new people and math facts were flying everywhere!  We have been concentrating on multiplication and division a lot these daysand kids should practice facts at home too.  There are so many ways for kids to practice facts they need to find the best way for each of them.  MobyMath is a GREAT way for kids to hone their skills and the computer will keep pushing them onward and upward.  Spiral multiplication continues to be a popular way for kids to practice their facts and implement fun and often difficult rules while doing so.