What an interesting week we've had! Wednesday and Thursday were snow days for Charlotte schools so students and teachers alike enjoyed a few days at home and out of the cold. Though we're back at school today, regular classes won't resume until next week since today we have Step-Up Friday, a time when school staff breaks the whole student body into small groups for differentiated instruction. In one of my small groups this morning, we worked on the three types of irony (situational, dramatic and verbal). In the other, we continued to work on our story analyses to respond to a text we started last week.
But what did 5th grade do this week? Well, on Monday and Tuesday we dived into Tuck Everlasting, focusing on foreshadowing, predictions and figurative language primarily. According to the text, Treegap (the magical wood that contains the spring of everlasting life) is situated at the hub of the story, one of the story's major metaphors. Students worked with dry erase markers on their desk to visualize this hub. They made predictions (educated guesses based on foreshadowing) about the ways in which characters will be connected, taking into consideration that the author mentioned "all roads lead to Treegap". This was a really great way to get the students to make connections and to imagine the hub metaphor as representing the circle of life (not to mention students love dry erase markers haha).
Above is one of our students who prides herself on being such a helper. She came in yesterday during the snow day to help organize the classroom and make copies for next week. The true question remains: Does she enjoy helping or warming her face with fresh copies more? :)
Spirit Week is in full effect at KIPP Charlotte and the 5th grade (pride of 2021) has worked hard to express our core value ("Excellence") in our halls. From writing poems to creating college pennants to decorating teacher doors, students have put their all into allowing their space reflect their interests and our pride's culture. So proud of their efforts -- we're hoping to win the hall decorating contest against the 6th-8th grades come tomorrow!
"On the inside we're RED but on the outside we're subdued"
Yesterday the 5th grade had the opportunity to see "If I Could Fly" at the Children's Theatre, a play about a young Black girl living out her inner creative spirit during the 60s. Jamya wanted to re-create the rainbow the girl made in the play and I must say it came out far more wonderful they any of us could have imagined!
Josh decorating our Social Studies classroom door
Each student created a college pennant as well as a handprint that bears their name and how they are excellent. Below they came up with key concepts that exemplify excellence.
So today we started Tuck Everlasting, an all-time favorite and a book we have been working really hard these past few weeks to frame. Being that this book's theme is so heavily tied to life and mortality, there is undoubtedly endless examples of figurative language. To get students ready to engage with some of the beautiful and vivid imagery author Natalie Bibbitt depicts in her novel, we spent the day exploring metaphors and similes.
I came across this cool New York Times article which offered a fun way to work through figurative language. I made a few tweaks but found the ideas to be really awesome. Students came into class and saw that there were 5 posters hanging from the walls. Each offered a different way of explaining Love:
Afterwards, we read the Prologue of Tuck Everlasting, particularly noting a passage on p. 4 where Babbitt writes:
All wheels must have a hub. A Ferris wheel has one, as the sun is the hub of the wheeling calendar. Fixed points they are, and best left undisturbed, for without them, nothing holds together. But sometimes people find this out too late" (4).
Students interpreted "life's fixed points" to be a metaphor for life and death, that which we cannot avoid and which is "best left undisturbed".
I'm excited to see what next week holds, especially since students will be running Literature Circles on their own and having more opportunities to grapple with the text independently. Additionally, I'm looking forward to having students working more with figurative language. They seemed to really enjoy it and I'm eager to find more creative ways to get them thinking more deeply about the ways in which figurative language is already woven so deeply into their everyday communication with others.
Each day this week, students have answered a different question to tie back to our overarching question for the unit: Is it a blessing or a curse to live forever? This week's questions have been as follows:
I want to share some of their responses so far so you could see some of their amazing thoughts about the possibilities of living forever. I love reading what they have to say and I think you will as well!
Tuesday marked our first day back to school in the New Year. Students returned Tuesday morning armed with their winter reading packets, having had the opportunity to choose books based on their Lexile levels prior to break and complete response questions. Some of their options included Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl, Elie Wiesel's Night and James McBridge's The Color of Water. Reading over some of their responses so far has been wonderful; having the chance to see how students were thinking about their novels and applying much of what we've been learning to process them is really great. Hearing them exclaim how much they loved their novels (especially those who read The Color of Water) had to be one of my brightest moments this week.
To kick things off this year, I reflected long and hard on how students not only performed last semester, but how they felt about what they were doing. Having had the opportunity to collaborate with fellow staff and some pretty awesome coaches, we've switched things up a bit in an attempt to become more critical and reflective. In the coming weeks, we'll be reading Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting, one of my all-time favorite fifth-grade novels. This week, students have been working on considering the concept of living forever and developing their own stance on the question "Is living forever a blessing or a curse?" Next week, we'll be examining outside sources and how others feel about this matter before moving into our novel.
I look forward to sharing more, as do the students -- they had the chance to check the website out this week and are excited to make their own contributions :)
A few months ago, Aaron Galloway, President of the Urban League's Young Professionals here in Charlotte, came to speak to my class. For about an hour, he spoke about the importance of sustaining your drive and maintaining good cache, or brand (a concept students really latched onto). He also gave away a pair of Lakers vs. Bobcats tickets, which means my class was probably the most behaved and engaged they've ever been in their lives! It was an amazing experience for the students and we look forward to having more guests come to visit in the future!
A few months ago, I was looking for an exciting way to teach students how to make inferences, seeing that students were all struggling with CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1: Quoting accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. Sure, they were all familiar with what an inference actually was (an educated guess based on what you see and what you know) but theyhad trouble connecting it to things they did in their everyday life.
Here's where Google came to save the day (that's usually how it happens, right?)
I stumbled across Mrs. White's 5th Grade Reading site, where she had listed all the various ways she had taught Inferences. This one in particular caught my eye and I grabbed 2 of my most, how should we say this, creative, students to help me pull this off. They showed up to school one day at 6:00am, armed with baggies full of ketchup, chalk and plenty ideas to turn my classroom into a crime scene. A huge thanks to our 5th Grade Science teacher who was so kind to lend us CAUTION tape. By 7:15am, my classroom was ready to go.
Students began arriving and really had no idea that what was going on in my classroom was staged. Period by period, I had students come the room, which by now was very cold and dark. Desks and chairs were overturned, large items were missing (e.g. my printer) and pictures were knocked over. Students were told they had to be very quiet, filling out a t-chart that listed the clues that they saw (the "what you see" part) on one side, and what they thought those clues meant (the "what you know" part) on the other side). After finishing, students took a seat and began trying to piece together what happened.
The stories they came up with were hilarious, off the wall and at times downright dreadful. I didn't really get too set on having one "right" situation, having too much fun letting the kids get carried away with their imaginations. At the end of the day, I was happy to see them so engaged, so excited to be trying to connect evidence with their own background knowledge and downright amused at them asking if everyday could look and feel like this (I wish! But then my room would always smell like old ketchup haha).
Thank you for visiting our classroom website!
I'm hoping this will be an awesome look into the wonderful things going on everyday in 5th Grade Reading. In this particular section, I will be documenting what we're currently up to, any special events we've attended, cool projects and/or activities we've done, as well as any other awesome things we'd like to share. It is my sincere aim to have this section more student-run in the near future so that you may hear from the scholars themselves about their journeys to being critical thinkers and close readers.
p.s. If you're wondering about the paper crane image at the top of this page : We read Eleanor Coerr's Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes last semester, a book that explored hope in fight of ridiculous odds. We spent time making paper cranes after we finished reading (a tedious but highly rewarding task) and now we have cranes hanging from our ceiling. In this way, I like to believe that the cranes, in that they represent hope, have come to symbolize what we have for ourselves as we work towards reaching our goals everyday.