Week 21 is donezo! These winter months are so hard; it feels like the weeks just drag on and on. I miss the sun. And temperatures above 20 degrees. But there are a lot of fun things going on inside the classroom that help keep us all going (and keeping an eye on Spring Break, only 9 weeks away, but who’s counting?!). Below are the 5 highlights from Week 21!
1. Theme – We have been working on and discussing theme all year. This is one of the hardest concepts for 8th graders to grasp. In general, they want to come up with morals or how they think things should be (i.e. Never tell a lie), and not how things really are (i.e. Lies create big messes). We spend a lot of time on this. Plus, I think limited exposure and life experience makes this a difficult task for adolescents as well. So I found a few themes from some popular movies on Pinterest, and I hung them up in the classroom as inspiration. I need to add a few less ‘Disney’ or rose-colored themes to my board as well, so that shall be forthcoming (i.e. “All Summer in a Day” – sometimes, people are just terrible to each other out of jealousy). Any tips or suggestions will be gladly accepted!
2. Discussion Groups – as we are making our way through our current novel unit, Spite Fences, we are trying a new thing this year with Book Chat Groups. I have grouped my students into 4s, and for each chapter they rotate their role. The roles are: Discussion Director, Illustrator, Vocabulary Recorder, and Summarizer. This way, they are in charge of building meaning from the chapter and not waiting for the teacher to tell them what was important. So far, this is going quite well!
3. Wordless News – In Social Studies, we have been exploring Wordlessnews.com by Maria Fabrizio. Each day, she selects a current event to illustrate in one powerful image. We discuss the following questions for each image:
* What is shown (list elements)
* What current event or topic is this referencing, and how do you know?
* What role does color/size/shape/etc. have in making this image have meaning?
* What message might this be communicating? Can you tell where the artist stands?
* What are some positions or responses other people might have about this topic?
In the collage above, you can see the assignment my students completed after perusing Wordlessnews.com. They had to find their own current event and illustrate it. I think they did a fantastic job with this! (Bonus, they really enjoyed it, too. Illustrating is not too simplistic a task for an 8th grader).
4. Musical Auditions – We have finished auditioning and created a cast list for our 2015 Musical, Shrek Jr.! I am always blown away by the amazing talent and guts of middle school students. I am very excited for this production, my 4th production at WMS (including: Music Man, Seussical, and Honk!). The cast list goes up today, and I know everyone is very excited!
5. Atlantia – I am now on Chapter 8, finally to a point where I don’t want to put the book down. I had to hang in there and wait a long time for the plot to pick up. I think that’s an important lesson for our students – books don’t always start with a bang. Sometimes, a slow exposition makes it even more interesting. We’ll see how the rest of the book goes!