Friday, September 28, 2012

Sharing and Acknowledging

Sixth Grade Field Day. Click picture to view photo gallery.
The week began with sixth grade's annual Field Day and everyone had a blast! We focused on community-building as students rotated through various activities that encouraged collaboration and group effort.  From Monkey in a Tree to Keep the Ball in the Air, everyone had an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  It didn't hurt that we had a warm autumn day, either!

Peer Response.  Click picture to view photo gallery.
Composition centered on working with others as well.  After spending time drafting their comparison pieces and learning about block organization, students practiced their peer response and specific feedback skills.  In pairs, writers and reviewers looked for strong comparison points, author's purpose, word choice, elaboration, and clarity.  After receiving feedback, students returned to their work and began revising.  In their Story Grammar books, students analyzed how sentence tools add detail and interest to basic sentences.  Once again, they learned from the greats: Frances Hodgson Burnett, Thomas Rockwell, and Walter Dean Meyers provided excellent examples to study and mimic.  Finally, writing circles had their first official meeting on Friday.  As Jim Vopat, author of Writing Circles, states, "[Writing circles are] small groups of students meeting regularly to share drafts, choose common writing topics, practice positive response, and, in general, help each other become better writers" (1).  Once a week, for the remainder of the semester, groups will meet to share and respond to each other's writing.  Students will practice collaborative revision, editing, and publishing.  Additionally, finished work will be shared and celebrated.  Their first get-together involved instruction in working as a group, meeting consensus, and choosing a topic.  By next week Friday, each group member will be expected to bring a working draft to share with the group for peer feedback.  Every week, I will join a new group and become a part of the process.  Next Friday I have to bring a piece about bicycling.  I think I have the perfect accident - I mean idea!

Raise the Roof. Click picture to view photo gallery
One common way to respond to a poetry reading is by snapping your fingers.  In literature class, students were given that option along with many others as they listened to each other's work.  Before sharing their "Nothing Gold Can Stay" response poems, readers had the opportunity to tell their audience the type of acknowledgement they wanted.  Options included Roller Coaster, Fireworks, Shooting Star, and Sandpaper Kisses to name a few.  Needless to say, it was a hit and it gave students the extra courage needed to read.  In their Daybooks, students analyzed a short nonfiction piece titled, "It's All in How You Say It."  The true narrative chronicles a young girl's realization that her people are grossly misunderstood.  Not only did the piece thematically complement The Outsiders, it allowed students an opportunity to practice what an author is inferring about the main idea.  Speaking of The Outsiders, the end is near and the predictions are flying.  Will Johnny die?  Will Pony and his brothers be separated?  What will happen during the rumble?  Could the Socs and greasers reconcile their differences? At the same time, students explored the dangers of labeling, considered the significance of limits and rules, and examined the relationship between Johnny and the gang.  Wrapping up the novel next week will certainly be bittersweet.

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