Black History Month is off to a great start at KIPP Charlotte and especially within the Pride of 2022! This month, our curriculum will focus on critical Black thinkers, artists and figures, pushing students to engage in meaningful conversations about race and culture.
School-wide, students will have the opportunity to focus on an individual who has made a profound impact in each of their respective core academic subject areas. This week, we're exploring Benjamin Banneker (Math), Dr. Charles Drew (Science), Langston Hughes (Reading) and David Walker (Social Studies).
In addition to this, students will have the opportunity to attend a Film Screening and fieldtrips to local cultural museums, as well as participate in our Black History Month Quiz Bowl at the end of the month. We're hoping to provide a powerful experience for all students that will expose them to individuals, events, ideas and concepts that have shaped not only their individual realities, but the realities of our larger world.
Check back for more and look out for updates from our students in the upcoming weeks!
The 2014-2015 academic school year is in full swing! The Pride of 2022 (KIPP Charlotte's 5th grade) has been busy building Foundational Skills in both Reading and Social Studies for the past month and a half. Students are gearing up to read their first 5th grade novel (Sadako) this week, applying Kylene Beer's Signposts to derive meaning. In Social Studies, students are preparing to participate in their first Paideia Seminar, discussing the impact of European Exploration on Native American cultures. Stay tuned for more updates!
For the past month, we have been working on exploring different ways in which individuals in our communities, in the world around us and in the texts we read have demonstrated courage.
During the first part of our unit, we discussed and wrote about a time in our lives in which we have had to show courage or someone near us has. Students spoke and wrote extensively about standing up against bullying, helping a friend or loved one in need, or having the confidence to speak up in school when struggling academically.
Next, we learned about instances of courage in the world, focusing on the Greensboro Four and the Lost Boys of Sudan. Not only did we read about these historical moments, but we also watched part of the The Butler (the sit-in scene), as well as God Forgot About Us, in order to better visualize what these moments actually consisted of.
Finally, we spent several weeks diving into the Holocaust to understand how individuals during this time period found ways to courageously undermine the lasting power of the Nazi Party. Higher level students read The Diary of Anne Frank over Spring Break and are in the process of completing independent projects to synthesize their thoughts and reflections. As a class, we worked with various informational text sources that covered Anne Frank's life and experiences. Considering the fact that many of my students had never previously heard of the Holocaust, many of them were absolutely fascinated (and downright enraged) to learn what had taken place less than a century ago. I have been extremely proud and amazed by the maturity and thoughtfulness they have demonstrated as they have processed difficult information and viewed disturbing images of genocide.
This week, students are writing five-paragraph essays on the ways in which Anne Frank's life and diary exemplified courage. I am excited to share those essays, as well as some of the higher level independent projects, with you all this week as they are submitted.
On another note, students take their Spring MAP Test Tuesday. We're all excited to see how much students have grown this year! Also, we will be starting our final unit on Poetry next week -- which is sure to be lot of fun!
February was such a busy month! Check out what we've been up to!
Jamya Sistrunk won Battle of the Books last month, having read more books than other any fifth grader for the month of January!
On February 6, KIPP Charlotte held its annual Career Fair. Parents and community members volunteered to speak with students about their roles and responsibilities in their varied industries. Here, three fifth graders discuss what it takes to be a police officer with one of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's own.
On February 21 (the 49th anniversary of Malcolm X's assassination), Amad Shakur, Founder and Director for the Center for the African Diaspora here in Charlotte, came and spoke to students about the importance of resistance, religion and education in Black History.
On March 4, we held our Black History Month program entitled Living a Legacy. Students performed as famous historical figures, such as Phyllis Wheatley, W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, and Frederick Douglass. We also had vocal and dance performances.
5th graders donned their professional dress and visited the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Culture + Art on March 6th, which proved to be such an invaluable opportunity for students to view work from such artists as Kara Walker and Margo Humphrey. Afterwards, students ate at Mellow Mushroom in Uptown Charlotte!
Spent an afternoon last week listening to and discussing the theme of "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" (the actual song). Such a fun way to engage students in figurative language and determining the theme of a text (though I was undoubtedly thrown off by the number of students who had never heard of Ms. Hill before!)
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!