Friday, February 29, 2008

Relay for Life

Last summer, my wife, Laura participated on a Relay for Life team with her coworkers at Pickaway Family Job and Family Services. I went in on Saturday night and joined the walk for a couple of hours. I was struck by the sincerity of the cause, the heartfelt determination of the participants to help in the fight against cancer, and the celebration of the survivors. As I thought about this event and the meaning behind it, I decided this would be a great opportunity for our sixth graders to do their part towards the cause.

Today we kicked off the Relay for Life project. Students watched the "Why we Relay" video.

Then they applied to be on a student leadership team that will help organize our school's participation and will join in on the Relay for Life celebration at the Pickaway County Fairgrounds on July 26-27.

All Laurelville students K-6 will be involved in the fundraising, and participate in a school-wide walk.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Writing in Social Studies

In Mrs. Griffey's social studies class, students studied, researched, and then wrote essays about Mesopotamia. Students had to follow the writing process. They wrote a rough draft, peer edited, and then published a final draft to be graded. This project counted as a social studies grade which was weighted based on content, and as a writing grade which was weighted towards the writing. Overall, the essays were filled with information, interesting, and well written.

Justin did a good job with his introduction and conclusion. He used a W's beginning to introduce the topic to the reader.

I discovered a lot of interesting things about Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia was located in the fertile crescent in what is now present day Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syrian, Jordan, Israel and Syria. Mesopotamia started in 4000 B.C. Mesopotamia was also located by two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates.

His closing sums up the topic, and restates a few key points.

Mesopotamia was a very successful culture. In Mesopotamia they had laws, a form of writing and technology. The people of Mesopotamia still affect us today.

By using a simple, but effective opening and closing, and having a body with many details, Justin and many of his classmates did well with this interdisciplinary project.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

SS Essay, Interdisciplinary Project

Mrs. Griffey has been studying Mesopotamia in her sixth grade social studies classes at Laurelville. At the end of the unit, students had to write an essay telling all that they learned. They had to research for additional information. Students wrote a rough draft, revised with a peer, and then wrote a final draft to be turned in for a grade.

This essay also counted for a grade in language arts. Justin did a great job with his introduction and conclusion.

This introduction outlines basic W's.

I discovered a lot about of interesting things about Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia was located in the fertile crescent that is now present day Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syrian, Jordan, Israel and Syria. Mesopotamia started in 4000 B.C. Mesopotamia was also located by two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates.

The closing does a good job of wrapping up the essay and summarizing important information.

Mesopotamia was a very successful culture. In Mesopotamia they had laws, a form of writing and technology. The people of Mesopotamia still affect us today.

With a good opening and closing, the essay makes it easier for the reader to understand.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Book Letter

Everybody loves to get a letter, even teachers. Our latest projects is one of my favorites because I get a lot of letters, and I get to read about the books students are reading. Below are parts of different letters that are superb examples of a book letter.

This is Justin's beginning:

The book I am reading is called The White Fox Chronicles. The author's name is Gary Paulsen. Gary Paulsen writes a lot of action/ survival books. The main character's name is Cody Pierce. Cody is a 14 year old boy.

This is a good example of a W's introduction.

This is Kari's beginning:

I am reading the book called The Revenge Of The Shadow King. I found this book to be extremely good. Especially if you are into fairy tales, mysteries, and thrillers because that's what it's all about. If you like those kinds of books you may be really attached to this book. I really liked it mainly because I like to read fairy tales and thrillers.

This is an opinion/persuasive introduction.

Shelby does a great job comparing the main character from Heartbeat by Creech in this paragraph.

Another thing that Annie and I have in common is we both have baby brothers. We both love our baby brothers. I think that Annie loves her brother a lot because she was so scared that the baby would get hurt. Annie and I also were scared at first to hold our baby brothers. She was scared that she would drop him, I thought that I would not hold him right and hurt him.
Katie helps us understand the character Bookworm from Max the Mighty.

My favorite character is Bookworm. Bookworm is also called Worm sometimes. She is my favorite character because she loves books. Worm is about eleven or twelve years old. Worm doesn't like her step dad. She doesn't like him because he hates T.V and he hates books. I think that Worm plays a really good part in the story and I like her because she and her mom have to deal with a lot of problems, and somehow she always makes it through.


Molly does a fabulous job wrapping up her letter.

I would definitely recommend this book to others, because I think a lot of girls could really relate to the main character, especially most of my friends. Also I would still recommend this book to boys, because even though it's a girl's book, it's not about being girly, and all about girls. Some boys may be able to relate to the three boys in the story! The book Spells & Sleeping Bags is one out of my two favorite books. Also, I think the author is very talented with writing her books. She's my absolute favorite author. I think Sara Mlynowski is very talented because I can really get inside the characters mind, and really get into the book as if I were the main character.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Freak the Mighty

The latest read aloud is the favorite of every class, every year--Freak the Mighty, written by Rodman Philbrick. This is the story of Max and Kevin, two misfits who become friends. Max is the writer of this story as the beginning circles around to be the end.

Max and Kevin each help the other, Max with his long legs and big body, and Kevin with his brain. Kevin is fighting a crippling disease, but Max's friendship helps him overcome some limitations. Max is trying to deal with the loss of his mother, and a father nicknamed Killer Kane. You can read more about this, as the language arts class builds a wiki page about the book.

Etech Conference

On February 4-6 I attended the Etech Ohio 2008 Conference in Columbus, Ohio at the Convention Center. This annual event features 300 sessions, teacher and student displays, keynote speakers, and technology vendors.

Many of the ideas currently in use at Laurelville Elementary came from this School Net Conference. The use of the online learning program, Study Island came from a discussion with the vendor at a conference four years ago.

Posting grades online for students and parents was discussed in several sessions three years ago. After visiting with several vendors, I decided to use Engrade.

The use of LCD and DLP projectors with doc cameras in writing workshop, has made sharing student work easy. All of the fifth and sixth grade classes at Laurelville use this technology daily. This idea came from a session I attended several years ago presented by a language arts teacher.

Each year there are sessions on digital media in the classroom. This has helped with sharing pictures of students hard at work.

Last year I attended sessions on blogging. Needless to say, this attempt at keeping parents and students informed came from those sessions.

I attended a session Wednesday about using Audacity. This is sound recording/editing software. I use it to edit songs that we sing in the class. It is also a useful tool for recording podcasts. A podcast is an audio broadcast that has been converted to an MP3 file or other audio file format for playback in a digital music player or computer.

A couple of ideas that I hope to use in the future are clickers and digital books. Clickers are infrared remotes. Each students gets one and they answer questions projected on the white board. At einstruction, they have a clicker that works with Study Island. The clickers anonymously keep track of each student's answer. This way each student is thinking about the question, instead of just a few students.

As you can see, many of the uses of technology in language arts at Laurelville Elementary originated from the Etech Conference. Each year I am excited to see the new ideas and find great uses in the classroom.