Today is a Great Day to Learn Something New and Creative in Education
This morning, the weather outside is beautiful. The hummingbirds are in full action. The wind is blowing the wind-chimes to make a simple melody that hums with nature. I love fall! One of my most favorite activities to do on a fall day, like today, is to sit outside and read. Unfortunately, I forgot my book I wanted to read at the school, so today I will write.
Of course, that just means I can tell you the exciting things happening in my classroom right now. In case I did not previously mention it, I have a total of 42 students I work with each day. I love the opportunity to teach reading, writing, and social studies to these 42 sixth graders.
I will break my posts into the three specific areas that way you get a glimpse of each. Occasionally, I will also break out homeroom activities. This past week, I tied the homeroom activities to the read aloud. You can find detail in my reading section.
Before I go into this week’s post, I will explain the title. One reason I chose it is I finished reading Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. This is one of her overall messages and it is a powerful message. The second is because growing up, my father always taught me that if you believed something was possible it could be. I wanted to take the time to write this post in honor of my father, today is his birthday. I am fortunate, that despite his not graduating from high school, I have a man in my life that believed in me and pushed me to believe in myself. Growing up with so many of my family not graduating, I believe this message served as a catalyst to my powerful drive to turn what could have been impossible into the possible.
We have been doing some specific routine and procedures. However, I have taken the time to read Fish in a Tree to the class. In fact, we finished the book this past Friday. This book is such a powerful way to really spark discussions about several topics. If you have not checked it out, I HIGHLY recommend it for any sixth-grade group.
I chose this book for several reasons. The first reason is I like to start the year with a powerful message. This book has the message that if you work hard you can move what you believed was impossible to the possible. A second reason I chose this book is I felt like you can connect a story better to a group when they can relate to a character. We all have that one student who may be depressed or lac self-confidence and to see a character grow in a realistic fiction story can offer a light for those students. Finally, I chose the book because it has a connection to my class wide theme. It has references to Alice in Wonderland discussed throughout the story.
During my homeroom on Wednesday, I asked students to write a response to the story focusing on the quote often associated with Albert Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I gave them ten minutes total. We broke that into two parts. The first part, I had them respond what the quote meant to them. For the second part, I asked them to connect their understanding to the main character of the story. They had to relate to what Ally had learned throughout the text. The students had amazing responses. I forgot to take a few pictures of them, but I will add some later this week. Most importantly I wanted students to understand as a group, we have the ability to treat others with respect instead of to be too quick to judge people.
I always tell them two things related to this. First, perspective is everything. Second, everyone has their own story. In the story, there is one boy named Oliver. He is always talkative, cares deeply about little things, and is often given small cues when he is talking too much. Oliver has a story revealed in the book that helps students understand that while he may have some annoying behaviors from some of the students’ perspectives, there is a story that explains why.
Since we finished the book on Friday, I plan to have them do an escape room I bought on TpT as a review on Monday and Tuesday during Academic Lab. This escape room should be a fun way to review the novel. It has five tasks. Each task has important components of a story: plot, characters, vocabulary, figurative language, and theme. For homework I plan to assign the students to complete a crossword I found at https://wordmint.com/public_puzzles/76203. They can then have a fun way to study before taking the assessment for the novel.
We are starting the novel The Phantom Tollbooth by Morton Juster next week. During this book we will discuss vocabulary and other story elements. I will also be introducing the Notice and Note Signposts for Fiction during this novel. I have some Google documents for students to complete. Watch for freebies starting next week on that book.
For writing, we have been learning about the writing process. The tool I used to create a prompt was taken from Text Structures from Fairy Tales: Truisms That Help Students Write About Abstract Concepts and Live Happily Ever After, Grades 4-12 by Gretchen Bernabei and Judi Reimer. I read the Little Red Riding Hood tale and had them think about distractions for Red Riding Hood.
After we discussed this structure with Red Riding Hood, I asked the students to think about a time they were distracted at school or at home. They completed the text structure with their answers. Then I told them they were going to go beyond that organizer and write a story. I even added another twist. They had to use candy names for the characters and setting.
Students have busy on these stories for two weeks now. Last week we did a peer feedback session. During the feedback session students were challenged to find the text structure of the distraction based on the structure we learned. Then they had to look for problem and solution, word choice, complete sentences, and of course spelling and punctuation. Once feedback was given students went to work making improvements. The next step is to conference with me before publishing. ‘
Here is the assignment as shown to them in Google classroom for publishing.
Yes, I know I have set high expectations for this assignment. However, I would not want it any other way.
I am attaching the rubric for your use. I found a similar rubric out on the web and just modified it slightly for my use. When the stories are published, I plan to have an author party. I will invite the admin team to come here the stories.
In sixth grade we focus on world geography. We recently wrapped up a unit of five themes of geography. After I introduced the five themes, I had students complete an assignment with a partner. The assignment was to research two places and decide which would be the best based on the five themes of geography for survival in a zombie apocalypse. I will attach a freebie lesson here. However, I did use a document as well I bought a few years back from TpT. You can find that specific one on https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Surviving-the-Zombie-Apocalypse-using-the-Five-Themes-of-Geography-1570375. I made the final decision a Google document so students could type their answers. I will attach a few of these student responses.
This past week we started landforms. I am attaching my Level Up unit. It is based on the concept of Layered Curriculum. You can look up information at http://www.help4teachers.com/how.htm.
I have a visual board in my classroom to track which level students are in. I am debating creating a step before oral defense can happen.
I am so glad I made the decision to head back into the classroom. I am enjoying the learning that I see happening. Of course, I am doing things somewhat more differently now that I am integrating more technology with Google Classroom. No matter what each day brings, I bring in my best. I also make sure each day the students know that they can move the impossible to the possible.
My life journey is that of a mother, wife, grandmother, weenie dog owner, blogger, conference speaker, mini-farmer, writer and a an occasional mistake maker with over 24 years in education. Follow me on Twitter @JEdgarEdConsult