Kent and I on the Plaza

Kent and I on the Plaza

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Scottish Highland Games in St. Louis - October 1

If you have extra time this weekend for a day trip to St. Louis, the Scottish Highland Games will be at Forest Park near the tennis courts.  If you have never been to a Scottish Games, you might want to consider going.  The athletic competitions are unusual (caber tossing, for example), the food is great (haggis, fish and chips...), and there are many things going on including bagpiping, highland dancing, children's activities and Scottish animal parading.  It is truly fun for the whole family.  There is an admission fee and it closes about 4:30 pm.  You might look for me at the Gunn Clan tent because my husband is the regional commissioner.  Just for the record, though, my clan is Ramsey!

Wednesday History Mystery Class 9/28/11

Today we finished our debate on the guilt of Captain William Turner of the Lusitania.  Because the Wednesday students arrive at 9:30, our time is short.  We did not get a chance to look at our research project today.  Next week, I will hand out the packets and make time for writing the thesis question and the supporting questions.  In addition, students will write their conclusions stating their opinion on Captain Turner's competence.

I think the students enjoyed debating.  They made some spirited and creative arguments.  Debate points are kept by the amount of supporting facts used by the team.  By this method, Captain Turner was deemed incompetent by one point!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Poet Tree update

We have had some great work with metaphors and similes.  My classes are small enough so that the students can all work on the white boards at the same time and the kids really love it.  It is very difficult for many of them to take an idea and write it both as a simile and a metaphor.  What a great exercise in flexible thinking.  I think they made some progress and we'll continue to work toward this goal.  We also looked at some poems which were also riddles.  We played twenty questions to guess the subjects of the poems by such authors as Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson.  Good practice for inductive reasoning!  We've been reading The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes and Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash to see how authors use similes and metaphors to create imagery in their poems. 

We are beginning a new writing assignment...the dreaded acrostic poem! I have found a new and better example for them and we will be writing acrostics in couplets which I found easier than writing in free verse.  We'll be brainstorming topics and comparisons (for similes and metaphors) and then students will have time in class to write their poem.  Students tend to get caught up in the rhymes and neglect the meaning of their poems. It is a challenge to teach them that without meaning, their poems are well, meaningless.  It seems obvious, but really, it's not!  We are utilizing rhyming dictionaries and student thesauruses to help find the perfect words to complete the poems. 

As we complete our poems, students read them outloud to the class.  We practice applauding each other, being good listeners, making eye contact, and presenting good posture!

History Mystery Class

While my classes are still at slightly different places, we are all working on the controversy surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania.  I was able to show them a 10 minute silent animated film of the sinking of the ship and we discussed its purpose as propaganda which was a great follow up to our discussion of "yellow journalism" during our investigation of the USS Maine.  One of the concepts I'm emphasizing this year is critical thinking when viewing media images.  This was a great opportunity to discuss it and to introduce the idea of silent film to them.  We will begin debating the accusations of negligence against the Captain of the Lusitania.

I am also handing out research packets this week.  We are choosing topics and writing thesis questions.  Each student must then write 8 research questions which will lead to the answer of the thesis question he/she has written.  I will be giving each group class time for this and they will be due in two weeks - October 10, 11, 13, and 19.  Each student has a page on the front of his/her research packet to keep track of the due dates for the project.  There will also be a copy sheet for each day of class posted in my room.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Poet Tree - September 20 update

Today we explored the poem "Ode to my Socks" by Pablo Neruda.  We discussed similes and metaphors and added them to our "Poetry Toolbox."  The students worked in teams to write a poem based on "Predictable" by Bruce Lansky.  Students had to write creative similes into their poems so that the second and fourth lines rhymed.  Beginning Wednesday, September 21, we will focus on metaphors and extended metaphors.  They will have to guess the meaning of the extended metaphors I give them.  We will then look at the acrostic form of poetry and work to write acrostics that incorporate similes and metaphors.  Usually, this is a hard assignment.  We will be examining "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes and "Custard the Dragon" by Ogden Nash to examine their use of simile and metaphor and we will be contrasting the moods of the poems.

Monday students are slightly behind and they will begin similes on Monday, September 26.  They will begin acrostics on Monday, October 3.

Also, it is time for students to declare which poem they wish to memorize for Poetry Cafe.  I already have students working on the memorization.  The poetry list is attached to my website should you need it.

History Mystery Update - September 20

We are getting ready to begin research projects.  I have attached the materials to my webpage for those who may need a page while at home.  The classes are in different places right now, but next week they will be evened out a little better.  Tuesday and Thursday classes are farther ahead. Wednesday and Monday have both been shorted some time due to Labor Day and late start.  Starting tomorrow, Wednesday September 21, we will all begin learning about the Lusitania and will choose research topics.

Today in the Tuesday class, we solved a mystery called A Grave Mistake.  Children used a map to discover the origin of arsenic poisoning.  We talked about ground water and ways to keep it cleaner.