Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Speak for the....

We read the classic Lorax story today. After our discussion and multi-flow map to show cause and effect, I asked the kiddos to write about what they would "speak for". Now I emphasized the environment, but man they came up with some BIG ideas! They are aiming to speak for the down-trodden, the underdogs, even America itself. The other thing that struck me about their answers was these students do come from a more urban environment-they seem to have daily stressors in their lives that trump that of nature, which I completely understand.

I will speak for the grass and food and animals and I hope the polar bears are safe every time I do not feel of joy (I think she meant when she thinks about what's happening with the polar bears).

I will speak of the ocean, I would say trashbags are not full because people are littering in the ocean.

Awww-just warms your heart doesn't it.

Obviously an American Idol fan.

Again, so sweet.

I would stand up for my family and my chihuahuas and my mom and dad.

I will speak for America to protect from robbers.

I will speak for the kids because they are crazy.  :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What Jazz Looks Like

We've been jazzing it up in my classroom this past week. Introduced them to Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and some of the other classic jazz musicians. The names of the instruments consisted of some great new vocabulary for them-in these days of Guitar Hero most of my kiddos didn't know what a trombone was. I played the music and then asked them to paint what the music looked like to them inside their minds. I really like the variations of ideas they came up with:

Jazz is the best music in the world because it's fantastic.

Jazz is cool music because I love music like this.

Jazz is pretty and cool and awesome [we are really trying to get away from using awesome, you'd think I have a class of Valley Girls or something] and the best music.

Jazz is the fun music because it is nice music I like the most.

Jazz is good music because it's perfect.

Jazz is the most fun music and the sound of it is pretty and I like it and love it.

Jazz get me moving, it is the outline of my heart.
Love the splatter paint look of this one-such a different idea! 
Jazz is part of my heart. It is like home.

Jazz is fun music. It makes me dance. I love it.

Life For Me Ain't Been No Crystal Stair....

One of my all-time favorite poems is Langston Hughes' "Mother to Son":

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

We discuss the meaning of it, new vocab-thank goodness for Google and I can actually show them what a crystal staircase looks like. We talk about the way Hughes writes more informally the way people talk, why he might do that. It makes this poem great practice for fluency, since I'm always telling them they should read more the way they talk than like robots :).

Then I ask the kiddos to write their own version of the metaphor based on what they value-Life for me ain't been no.....?

Life for me ain't been no glass house.

Hawaiian Luau

Charity of Statue of Liberty

Flower blocks

Lots of pretty things

Crystal house, couch and light

cozy dress

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Some Rigorous Dr. Seuss Activities

Dr. Seuss' Birthday is next week-March 2nd. I know we are planning to celebrate that day with some activities based on his stories. As I planned, I wanted to share some ways I plan to add some rigor to those lessons. I'll post pics next week as we complete them.

Biography: The Boy on Fairfield Street --very interesting account of his life growing up and how many people told him he’d never make a living drawing his silly animals!

Ethics: lots of books lend themselves to this concept. The Lorax and the environment, Butter Battle and war. Horton Hatches the Egg, was it fair for Maisy to leave her egg with Horton? Cat in the Hat-was it fair for him to come in and mess up the house?

Perspective: Compare the perspective of the Lorax and the Thneed-seller, speak from the perspective of the Truffula trees or the egg in Horton Hatches the Egg-what would it say?.

Compare views of the fish with that of the children in Cat in the Hat.

Compare characters like the Lorax to Horton-they both tried to do what they thought was right.

Critical Thinking: Design a new accessory for the Cat in the Hat-something other than the famous "hat". Would it change any details of the story?

Create your own silly Dr. Seuss-like character.

Green Eggs and Ham-create a list of other foods he probably wouldn’t eat.

Why are the Dr. Seuss books so popular? What details about them do people like?

Thinking about the Lorax character, who is speaking for the other unrecognized problems out there in society today?

Rules: What are the rules for a Dr. Seuss story? Write your own story following those rules.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Self-Portraits and Similes

I discovered this book a few years ago through the student book club I facilitate for:

It's a story about a very feisty little girl who loves to chase the chickens on their farm. It's chock full of some really great similes-so that's usually how I introduce them.

Because the illustrations are in a collage format, after reading the story the kids made a self-portrait collage and then wrote a sentence with a simile to describe themselves. I think some of them came out really cute!

I'm as fast as a cheetah.

I am as good and sweet as a butterfly.

I am good like a cherry.

I am smart as a Smartboard! :)

I am as smart as a giraffe.

I am as good as an angel.

I'm as quiet as a giraffe.

I am as loud as a pencil sharpener.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tar Beach Activity

I love the book Tar Beach. The thought of that young Cassie flying over anything she wanted to make hers. We talked about what the "Tar Beach" was (if you're not familiar with the story, it's the roof of their apartment building where they have get-togethers with neighbors). I asked the kids to write about what the "beach" with their family would look like.

Movie Beach

Glass Beach

Dress-Up Beach

Dirt Beach

Watermelon Beach

Wood Beach (because it's in the forest)

Dancing Beach

Ice Beach

Strawberry Mountain Beach

Blanket Beach