I have been a little absent the last few days. We finished up school on Friday. The last day before a break is always chaotic. I thought I would magically get packed Friday night, pick up some stuff from the store for when I got back, clean my house, and you know...write some posts to schedule for my break. I flew out Saturday morning to Vegas. (I am here visiting with my mom and brother. My mom lives in Utah, and I live in Texas. We decided to meet up in Vegas for a few days.) I did pack and the house got vacuumed. That's all. So the laptop came with me, and I sit here in the Starbucks to give a brief post.
If you need some other last minute Thanksgiving ideas (not that you haven't seen a million of them by now). If you are like me though, great ideas get tagged in your google reader for next year. Here are some fun things we did last week related to Thanksgiving.
We read the poem "Thanksgiving" by Edgar Albert Guest. It is a great poem for this time of year and discussing mood and theme. It is a relatively simple poem. We read through the poem and underlined unfamilar words. Then we discussed what the words might mean using context clues. Then we labeled each stanza with the main idea of the stanza. We followed up by using a graphic organizer I had created called "Poetry Accessories" to analyze the poem. We looked at things like visualization, sound, comparisons, mood, author's purpose, and message. It is from my Analyzing Poetry pack. My students then had to write a paragraph to show their analysis of the poem using the elements of the graphic organizer. We completed these tasks together. Going forward I am going to analyze our weekly poems in small groups as more of a guided reading lesson. I think they will get more out of it in small groups. Poetry is hard, but it really can be fun with elementary and middle school students to see them open up to thinking more metaphorically. I would like to follow up with writing more poetry.
I am trying to get back to my weekly writing inspiration series on my blog and with my students. Each week I want to analyze a poem, quote, and picture. Then, they use each of those items to inspire their writing.
For our quote last week, we used the following quote:
We used a form I had created to analyze the quote. They had to copy the quote down, write what they thought it meant, write how the quote made them feel, and write any connections they made to the quote. You can get a copy here. After analyzing the poem and quote, they use the ideas from them to inspire their own writing. They can write essays, poems, personal narratives, creative stories - all during their journal writing time. I really like how our journal writing is going. I am still struggling to figure out how often I want to publish pieces and really edit. I have been using a lot of computer resources lately, so I am thinking we will save these more for publishing. I am trying a lot of free technology resources right now, so they can learn how to use them. Over time, they will have more choice and then I can conference more with them to work on the editing and revising. Sometimes, technology is hard because you are having to teach the content as well as the technology.
We did a lot of letter writing last week. On Friday, we read You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Mayflower. Then, we watched the Charlie Brown version of the Mayflower voyage on the "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" DVD. They followed it up by writing a letter from the point of view of a pilgrim describing their journey and the first winter. The funny thing is that my students are doing fabulous with RAFT writing tasks where they write from another point of view, but really struggle with a basic summary. So, I am thinking our next approach will be to write a summary from the point of view of a book character or person in history or something. Not sure. How is your writing workshop going? Okay...back to Vegas. (I know this post was not that brief. Mine rarely are. Hopefully, you don't mind too much. If I am going to share an idea, I feel the need to explain it).