This week we are finalizing compare and contrast paragraphs about either characters or settings in the novel Bridge to Terabithia. We began by using a Venn diagram to begin to understand and show the similarities and differences. Then the children used an on-line program to transform these ideas into phrases and sentences. Mini lessons about writing topic sentences (occasion/position statements) and effectively using transition words followed. Finally, each child wrote rough drafts, revised and edited them, and wrote a final copy.
Venn diagrams (prewriting and planning):
Writing process (drafts and final copy)
This project is part of a larger unit in which we read and discussed this book as a whole class novel; held small literature groups, investigated vocabulary; illustrated the main settings, etc. Next week, Rebecca and I will lead discussion and writing groups to explore deeper questions like:
1) Which characters in Bridge to Terabithia defy gender stereotypes? Which examples in our own lives do we see the same thing? Where do gender stereotypes come from?
2) In what ways do the main characters in Bridge to Terabithia feel "trapped" because of their age? Do you ever feel that way? How can young people find their own identities or freedom?
3) The main character, Jess, changes and matures in many ways. How are you changing and moving from childhood to adulthood? What "bridge" are you crossing or which ones do you expect to cross in the next few years?
All of the 4/5 classrooms are exploring this genre of writing and I extend gratitude to my team mates for some of their lessons and planning of the activities.
This afternoon we simulated the route a bill may take as it makes its way through the three branches of government. Through an activity designed by iCivics.org, students formed small groups and instead of creating laws, they acted as lead chefs who suggested food categories (President sets the agenda for laws that are important), menu writers who wrote the menu (Congress writes bills that may become law), lead chefs who then approved or rejected the menu (President vetoes the bill or signs it into law), menu writers who changed or rejected the menu or overrode the lead chefs (Congress makes changes to the bill or overrides the President's veto), and finally nutrition inspectors who evaluated the menu (Supreme Court decides whether the law is constitutional or unconstitutional).
This role-play uncovered each branch’s responsibility in the law-making process. They then compare the simulation activity to a real-life example of a bill that became law.
Thanks to funding from he Youth Opportunities Advisory Board at the City of Boulder, we were able to attend a showing of Ernest and Celestine--a brilliant French animated film. The artistic and thematic masterpieces sparked some interesting conversations this afternoon.
For this week's council, we revisited the mystery questions each child posed in the fall--what do you wonder about when you cannot sleep at night or when you are alone? What do you worry and feel curious about? When do you feel afraid or are excited about? What are your questions about yourselves, about others, and about life itself?
Rebecca and I read them back and in a circle of listening and speaking from the heart, mutual trust, and spontaneity each child reacted to their classmates' wonderings.
Jen Snare was our guest artisit this week. An accomplished jeweler, she introduced the children to copper tooilng. In a fascinating story, she explained the process of chase and repousse. Each student then created their own piece from copper and learned new techniques in metal working.
We are working with Lauren’s class to hold our own mock Constitutional Convention on Friday. Included are some previously underrepresented participants – women, Native Americans, Enslaved African Americans, Free African Americans and white workers and indentured servants. We will examine two issues: slavery and suffrage. Students are working in groups to understand the varying perspectives and will each write a short persuasive speech to deliver on Friday. Students are welcome to dress in costume.
Hope to see you there and watch the votes come in.