December, the time for final tests, holiday assemblies, and difficulty concentrating with the anticipation of vacation! I am so proud of all of my students as they worked hard until the very last day of school. Learning happens in many ways as depicted below. I want to give you just a glimpse of some highlights from our last few weeks together in 2014.
Open note tests can be harder than memorizing facts. We used books, iPads, Mindmeister, My Maps (Google), hand written notes, and each other to help prepare for the Wisdom Tales test.
Instead of our monthly Book Talk in the library, Mrs. Longee did Speed Booking with us. We got to preview many more books and then take time to read as we do every day both in and out of the classroom.
On Tuesday, December 9th, we participated in an Hour of Code. We explored www.tynker.com and www.code.org to learn the basics of coding. We have the Hopscotch app on our iPads and some students who are already proficient with coding continued projects in higher level programs.
As we are starting to think about what we want to research for our TED-Ed Club talks later in the year, we learned about Power Pose from Amy Cuddy’s TED talk Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. We are learning about what we see in other people’s body language as well as what we communicate with our own, but did you know you can change your body’s chemistry just by the way you sit or stand? See Amy’s talk to learn more.
The Egyptian Harvest Festival was a chance to share the pyramids students built and taste Egyptian food. Thank you Ms. Johnson and Ms. Saffo!
Have you ever wondered what it is like to be eleven years old? Our 5th and 6th graders had the opportunity to view the documentary I Am Eleven by Genevieve Bailey. In addition, we got to Skype with Ms. Bailey. It was three o’clock in the morning in Australia for her!
Field Day in December? The 5th and 6th graders came out with warm cheer in chilly weather.
We ended our final week with some games. One is called Human Slide Show. Students in this generation still know what a slide projector is if you can believe it! We acted out scenes from our Wisdom Tales unit. There could be no movement, no props, and no sound. The body language says it all! This took collaboration and creative thinking all planned in 15 minutes.
Another game we enjoy is the card game Blink. In less than five minutes, students are enhancing their active working memory and automaticity. They also learn about their own learning style. This is a fabulous way to take a brain break too. Try it! You will find it hard to stop.
Finally, I must say again that I am so proud of the efforts, the risks, and the enthusiasm these students bring each and every day. In addition to all of this, I posted over 152 new blog posts that were written by these 6th graders about the experiences illustrated in this post. If you want to find out more about the Egyptian Harvest Festival, Hour of Code, what they have read so far this year for independent reading, or real life examples of morals, use my blog post link www.pdroom212.edublogs.org and click on the student blogs listed to the right. I encourage you to view blogs you haven’t read yet and comments are welcome! It’s almost like getting a real letter in the mailbox. Please remember we value the process of writing and the progress, not perfection. Reflection is important for learning too. You will see just that if you look at one of the first blog posts compared to more recent ones. If you haven’t read about my travels to India, now is your chance.
Trapping a Spirit in a Kennel
In a desert city, a few months ago, one day a pack of five coyotes were enjoying a great night in their den. That night, a giant downpour flooded their den and forced them out. The next day, the pack wandered into the city. The dog catchers caught them and put them in kennels at the dog shelter. The dog shelter was very close to their den. All of the pack except the wisest one were very depressed. The leader asked the wisest coyote why he was so cheerful and not depressed and mourning like the other three. The wise coyote answered, “The dog catcher may have captured our bodies but he has not captured my spirit and don’t let him capture your spirit too.” Then the pack of coyotes cheered each other up, escaped the dog shelter, and went directly to their den where they lived there happily for the rest of their lives and never let their spirits get trapped in a kennel ever again.
One day Harry the hippo was hanging out at his normal pond when this rat came along andbit his tail. The hippo jumped high up and screamed out, “OW!” The hippo was badly bitten inthe tail and had a disease that the rat carried but he didn’t know it. Slowly the hippo got angryand hit the rat and smooshed it into the ground. The rat was dead and the hippo didn’t knowwhat he would say to the other animals so he ran away.
He ran and he ran and he ran until he could see nobody else for miles. He saw people upahead and then he ran to see them. He started to walk around and see the people because hehad never seen those people before in his life. They looked like giants from his level. Then helooked at one person and they reached around in her pocketbook to find her phone. He heardher call the animal control!
Once they came they took him and put a cover around his head so that he couldn’t see.Then they shoved him into a truck and rushed him to the zoo. When they took it off of his headhe saw that he was somewhere different. He saw other animals around him trapped. Then herealized that he was trapped in a cage too. Harry was sad and lonely and he missed his home.And from that day on he was trapped in a cage forever.
The moral is “Don’t run away from your problems!”
Love Can Never Be Separated
There once was a mother bird who had three children named Robert and Isabel, the oldest children, and Matthew the new-born baby. The mother’s name is Kate, and Kate has lost her dear husband, Jim. Many times a month she tells her children the great tragedy of her husband’s death.
There was a clever merchant with a gun searching for a bird to sell at the market. It was at that moment, when the hunter was in the woods waiting for a bird that Matthew was born. The father came out of his house to get food for their newborn son Matthew. On his way out the mother watched him fly swiftly through the air, the children were inside playing games with Matthew and trying to give him lessons. The mother then sees with her own two eyes her husband fall out of the sky while the gunshot was fired. She rushes out to him but then sees the hunter and ducks behind some bushes. She sees her husband being carried away by the hunter; since she did not know what to do she waited until the man had disappeared.
She flew back home with some food for her son Matthew and tells her children that she decided to get the food because the father had to see another bird for some flying advice. The next day she told her children the truth about what really happened to her husband.
Three years later she goes out early in the morning to get breakfast for her children. She goes straight down towards the ground for some worms or snails. She hears her child Matthew slip out of the nest and acts quickly. She darts forward, like a bullet, catching her head-shaken child and brings him back to the nest. She darts back down for food unaware that the same hunter that killed her husband was aiming at her. A gunshot goes out and she plummets to the ground; dead she was. She sees her husband reach out for her with his wing and she takes it with hers and flies up into the sky, leaving everything else behind.
Moral: You are always going to feel trapped in life, but now your spirit is free.
There once was a young girl who was not very popular. She was very shy, was constantly brushed off, and everyone thought and said she was strange. One day, she decided to try and become more “normal”. She started by dressing like the others. Everyone was shocked at how she looked but soon forgot, returning to their daily lives.
Crestfallen, the girl asked her sister why she was not accepted even though she looked like everyone else.
Her sister replied, “Try to act in the same way as the others.”
The next day the girl dressed, spoke, and acted in a similar way to her peers. Again, they snubbed her.
They snorted, “What a fake! She looked hideous and acted ridiculously!”
Dejectedly, she trudged home and cried.
She asked her sister again, “What else must I do to win everyone?”
“Uhh…. Maybe attempt to be nicer and more open.”
Slowly, she began to transform, winning others. They gave her their opinion on how she should be. She listened and became the ideal picture of everyone. She took all of the opinions and turned them into the person she wanted to be.
After working on her peers for a long time, she felt so proud yet felt very hollow. Out of her determination to win everyone over, she forgot to be true to herself.
The moral of the story is to be yourself.
In our L.A. class, we chose to write about a wisdom tale and make a Comic Life project on it. I chose Old Dog and Coyote which is a tale from Mexico. It is a tale about being kindhearted and the golden rule. The old dog could not scare away the coyote from the farm that he was supposed to guard. One day, the coyote tried to jump over a cactus and failed, and the old dog helped him. And in return, whenever the old dog barked, the coyote would run away and the old dog would earn food. I really enjoyed making this comic.
For the past few days we have been working on a comic about our wisdom tales. I did the wisdom tale Blinded By Greed. Blinded By Greed is about a robber that goes in to a market to steal gold. When he steals it he is stopped by the citizens in the market. The moral to this story is: Don’t steal even if nobody is watching.
I really enjoyed making a comic on wisdom tales. One of three best things was using Sketchbook. At first I was really angry with it and I wanted quit. But, then I was patient and realized Sketchbook was really cool to use. The great things were that Sketchbook had lots of varieties of pencils and markers that you could use and they came in different forms and textures. For my comic I choose to do Antlers. I chose to d0 Antlers because I thought it would be fun to draw the deer and the whole moral.
Screenshot of my comic
Since we finished reading and taking notes on all of the Wisdom Tales, Mrs. Donnelly assigned a project. The project we were assigned was to create a comic on Comic Life of a Wisdom Tale of our choice. I chose the Wisdom Tale: Whose Dream Is This? from China. The reason I chose to do Whose Dream Is This is because I really like the moral and the story is simple and short, yet still portrays the moral. The moral for this Wisdom Tale is: Think outside the box and/or look at things from different perspectives.
Comic Life is a great app. It gives you many different themes to chose from as your format and isn’t difficult to understand or use. Above is a screenshot that I took of the Wisdom Tale comic that I created.