Friday, December 4, 2015

Pilgrim Life Diary- A SS/Writing Assignment

The last chapter in our SS book that we have covered, talks about the life of the Pilgrims. During each chapter we try to do a project of some sort that can display and apply the knowledge that we have gained from the reading. This chapter we read and learned about pilgrim life in our textbook and we took to other books to learn about what pilgrim children did.

In this unit, we completed a web hunt to learn more about the life in the colonies. PBS has a website linked below that uses the picture below as an interactive lesson. The students use that site combined with site to scavenge for information about how the pilgrims lived.

We also read a couple books, Sarah Morton's Day and Samual Eaton's Day. These books are very kid friendly and describe the daily life of a pilgrim child. My students then look up information on "How to Talk Like a Pilgrim." They really enjoy learning the new phrases and words and use them frequently for a few days.

Then it is off to the races they go creating their own Pilgrim Life Diary. They have to write in 1st person as if they were a pilgrim child. There are strict requirements that there must be great evidence of historical data and research throughout their journals. They must put it together in a book and it must be handwritten and have hand-drawn illustrations. (Insert disappoint kid faces when I said "No, you cannot type it. The pilgrims didn't type their diaries, did they?")

Some of them went above and beyond the call of duty of course. Here are some samples of the amazing work they came up with:

I love the learn book and the pages were so authentic on this one!! One of my favorites! 

Sorry this next one is sideways, but I have little time to fix it! Her cover is clever and very artistic.

Again, sorry for the short time and sideways picture. This male student did a wonderful job researching and basing his writing on research. Writing is the following picture. 

Again sideways, but look how fun and authentic this student was! I couldn't get any good pictures of her writing, but she did very well at talking like a pilgrim! Good Morrow! 

This is the neatest I have seen this student write! I was so proud of all of his effort and the amount of writing the students have me far exceeded my expectations. 

I liked this project last year, but this year I LOVED IT! The students really put more into researching and finding out historically accurate information to put into their story. I think that putting an emphasis on that really helped me out! It is amazing how much we learn as teachers as we teach the same things over and over. We are always tweaking and working to make things better and this is a good example of how I re-taught something the next year with the lessons I learned from the year before! 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!

Well Thanksgiving has come and gone and I really enjoyed my week long Thanksgiving Break!! Now as of today I only have 5 more days of school until I get an entire month off!! Woo Hoo!! That means one WHOLE month with my little monster. I absolutely cannot wait!

So what does one do when you only have 9 days of school with only 8 full days of learning time between Thanksgiving and a WHOLE MONTH OFF???

Here it goes...

Reading- We do a novel study of the book Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. As I have stated before, I am a huge fan of Donalyn Miller and all of her reading research, but I just can't help myself when it comes to this novel. (Her research doesn't favor a whole class novel study) There is so much rich history in this novel and my kids always LOVE it. I do not think that I have any students who dislike this book. It is suspenseful and they learn so much about a hard time in history from reading it.
I did change my ways of doing a whole class novel though...I threw out the WORKSHEET packets (YES the one I spent hours creating last year and even have listed on TPT). We took that packet to a different style this time around. I broke down all of the important and trick vocabulary words and broke them down by the chapters that we will be reading. I broke students into 5 groups and gave them a word list. They used their laptops to look up the definitions and recorded them on chart paper. Before we read each section we bust out the vocab poster for those chapters and go over the words. Then as we are reading we stop when we get to those words and use the context to make sure we understand exactly what they author was trying to say. The students who looked up that word are typically the ones who like to be experts and share their knowledge! They really take ownership of it!

We are also working on the plot as we go through the novel. Each student has a plot map and as we read we are recording the important events that are leading up to the climax. One other activity we will be doing tomorrow is that we will be making a poster for each main character and writing down the facts that we  have learned complete with page number/chapter references and text based evidence!! We will add to those as we continue reading. I am really challenging my kids to look deeper at character change. When asked how the characters in their previous book clubs changed, I typically received answers like "they grew older" or "the learned more." So I am hopeful that this activity and doing it together as a class will help them see this in more detail.

Later on in the year we read together the novel The Man Who Love Clowns. This one is a heart breaker and another novel that everyone loves to read. From this novel comes our very in-depth character study. So that is why I am trying to get my readers deeper into character analysis here!

Social Studies- We don't have time to start a new chapter, so instead we research Christmas!! The students are writing a compare and contrast 5 paragraph essay comparing their Christmas traditions to the traditions of another country or religion. Tis the season!

Writing- DEAR SANTA!! It wouldn't be Christmas without a Santa letter! The kids are writing a 3-5 paragraph letter to Santa explaining their #1 gift and how is would benefit them. They are super cute and very convincing! (Examples to come later this week!)

Also, Snowmen at Night...ADORABLE book to read. Check back next week for a post on this wonderful writing assignment where students are going to create their version in PPT!

Math- We are conquering dividing decimals! Wish us luck!