Ms. Isom’s Class: Grade 6 (March 2017)
Dodecahedron Book Reports
Since March is reading month, we have been working on book reports in Grade 6. One type of book report that we have been working on throughout the month is a Dodecahedron book report. This type of report requires students to complete 12 different circles, which are later put together to form a dodecahedron – or 12 sided shape.
The first circle we completed showed the students name. On the second circle they wrote the title of the book they read. To complete the third circle we went to the computer lab and the students researched a little about the author of their book, and then wrote down three interesting facts about the author. For the fourth circle each student summarized the book they read, making sure to include information from the beginning, middle, and end.
Circles five, six, and seven required the students to tell us about three different characters in their book and explain what we need to know about them. We learned about three types of text connections: text to self, text to text, and text to world, and then the students wrote about these three types of connections for their book. For circle nine the students chose five people that they would recommend the book to.
The students completed circle ten by drawing their favorite scene from the book and writing a caption about it underneath. Next, the students created an advertisement for the book. They completed the last circle by reviewing the book and sharing their opinion. Finally, they assembled their dodecahedron book reports, and we hung them up in the classroom for everyone to see!
Mr. Thomas: Grade 6 (April 2017)
Religions Around the World
As part of the thematic unit on world cultures, students have been looking at the major religions around the world. To further develop student’s critical thinking skills, as well as their writing abilities, students have created a project that compares and contrasts major religions. This process entails an examination of two different world religions. Then students internalize what they have learned by making visual representations that compare and contrast two of the religions they have learned about. Finally, students plan and draft pieces of writing comparing and contrasting different religions and create posters to share with their classmates.
The learning process begins with an examination of the different world religions. The students read and discuss the facts and distinctions between the different religions. After conducting their research and having group discussions, the students then chose two religions to compare and contrast. The students begin this process by working on a class Venn diagram to visualize the similarities and differences between their chosen religions. Next, I have the students work independently on their own Venn diagrams and short essays that will be used to compare and contrast their chosen religions.
After the students have planned and drafted their compare contrast summaries, I have them begin work on a poster for a final demonstration and speech for the class. Students work with a partner or in small groups constructing posters that visually represent their writings. When they have completed their posters, the students take turns displaying their work. The students then give small presentations and speeches to demonstrate what they have learned throughout the assignment. Finally, the students display their work on the front white board for the other students to see and discuss.
Ms. Nicholls' Class: Grade 6 (March 2017)
Using the Jigsaw Technique to learn about World Religions
In Grade 6, the curriculum includes World Religions, ‘Making Connections in Reading’, and ‘Note Taking in Writing’. The jigsaw technique, a method that requires students to rely on each other to succeed, was used to organize these three classroom activities.
Students in their home groups were introduced to the learning goals for the lesson. A World Religions power point was presented, eliciting student’s prior knowledge on the topic. Each group was assigned research material from a classroom set of texts on World Religions, and note-taking paper. As each group finished, they moved to the ‘Making Connections’ task cards center.
Students were re-organized into their expert groups and presented their new knowledge. Other groups took notes of the other religions in their Interactive Notebooks. Throughout the jigsaw process, the teacher monitored the groups constantly as they read and discussed the new vocabulary. When the teacher saw challenges, the students were guided to finding a solution within themselves, their groups, and the ‘experts,’ sharing knowledge to enhance the cooperative benefits of jigsawing.
Students moved back into their home groups and shared their expertise - the way their expert knowledge was changed or enhanced by listening to their peers. All students were able to learn about the five religions from each other. Well done students!
Mr. Vince’s Class: Grade 6 (Mar 2017)
“What does that mean?”
Word study classes involve more than just learning what a word means. Word study class means to study a word in order to know how to say it properly, to know what it means, to hear examples of the word, to practicing using it in sentences, and to demonstrate the meaning of the word through rehearsed skits. Each week the students in my class learn 5 new words, and they use each of these learning strategies.
The first phase involves spending time pronouncing each word. After the whole class repeats each word after the teacher, each table group will then say the word together, and finally one student from each table will say a word, rotating so each student says at least one word alone. Next, every table is assigned one word. Each member of a table group has an opportunity to participate by either saying the word and its part of speech, reading the definition, giving different examples of the word, reading the sentence provided, or creating their own sentence. The third part of the lesson practices using the words in various types of sentences. All groups are given the same two words and a type of sentence. They are then asked to create the type of sentence using both of the words and using proper grammar. As a class we review each sentence and correct the grammar together, and then one group’s sentence is declared the winner.
Lastly, our unit is wrapped up with a fun activity that demonstrates their understanding of a word. Each group is assigned a word and asked to create, rehearse, and perform a skit that demonstrates the meaning of the word without actually saying their word. This is a great lesson to wrap up the week of learning five new words. All students participate, all students speak English, all students learn, and everyone has fun!
Ms. Kimi’s Class: Grade 6
My Martian Colony
Currently, we are learning about space in our class. Our big project for this thematic unit will be to have the students working on creating their own Martian Colony! The first part of the project involves understanding and being able to explain some of the science that it would take to make Mars habitable for humans. The second part involves actually designing and creating a colony, thinking about population size, certain jobs that would be necessary, and what they would do on Mars during their leisure time.
To get the students excited about the project, we first watched a clip from the academy nominated movie “The Martian”. The next step in the process was reading how we could use science to meet human’s five basic needs: oxygen, water, food, shelter, and heat. Each table group was given one of the five basic needs to read about. Their first task was to take turns reading the article out loud to each other. Next, they discussed the article together to better understand it. They then worked together to summarize the article into simpler language. After that, they used their summary to make a poster that could be displayed in the class and used as a reference. Lastly, each group presented their summary and poster to the class. The rest of the class then took notes after each presentation that they will later use when they begin to design their own Martian Colony. It will be interesting to see the different types of Martian Colonies that they will create!
Mr. Vince’s Class: Grade 6
“You said what?”
To debate something means to argue about a subject, especially in a formal manner. Usually a debate involves someone’s opinion not matching the opinion of another person. Over the course of the last month, students in our class have tried to learn the art of debating.
It all began with two students brainstorming with each other to determine some beliefs that they think different about. Once they decided on their topic they each took some time to brainstorm all the reasons that they can think of to say why they think they are right. After compiling their list, they chose their best three reasons and shared them with the person they will be debating with. Both students listened to, and wrote down, what the other person believed. Next, the students spent time alone to think about the other persons’ reasons and why they think they are wrong. They also spent time planning and preparing for their debate showdown.
They had a list of 3 reasons why they were right, and three reasons why they think their opponent is wrong along with many supporting details that they added during their planning process. Who is ready to argue? Each student argued and debated with their partner until one person could not argue anymore. Debating can be done individually or in small teams. Our students had an opportunity to debate on small teams of 5 or 6 as well as individually, and everyone had an opportunity to speak up and share their opinion. Debating is a skill that encompasses so many different English skills. You have to listen well, speak clearly, write good grammatical sentences, and respond appropriately in a conversation setting. We love debating!
Mr. Kevin’s Class: Grade 6
Create Your Own Solar System
In class this week, students were asked to create their own solar system. We have been studying our own solar system for the past few weeks, so I wanted to give the students a chance to be creative and use the knowledge they learned.
Each student in their group was responsible for one planet. Each planet needed to include specific information. Students determined the planet’s size, color, ring system, orbital number, moons, composition, and name. They could choose between planets that were more Mercury-like, or those that were more Saturn-like. After each student completed their planet, the group worked together to place them all into a cohesive solar system.
On one piece of paper, each group drew a sun and then added all their planetary information as well as a quick drawing. After that, each group used a computer program to input their solar system information to present a fully animated visual to the class. After entering all their information, students introduced their planets to the class. Overall, the students had a good time making wild planets. They also worked well in their groups using much of the new vocabulary they have learned over the past few weeks.
Ms. Nicholl’s Class: Grade 6
Sentence Strips provide a manipulative approach to language acquisition that applies rules of grammar, mechanics, punctuation, organization, sentence combination, and many other literacy skills. Sentences can be tailored to address a wide array of language skills. The teacher can create sentences that address specific skills being taught, which can be modeled by the students, who, in turn, create their own sentences.
There are many ways to incorporate activities using sentence strips into the lesson. Using manipulatives increases the likelihood of active student engagement in the activity. Do them as partner activities, so students are using the target vocabulary and concepts as they share ideas and communicate with each other (and the teacher and TA can monitor the room and address any errors or misunderstandings immediately).
Here are three different ways we have recently used sentence strips in lessons involving cognitive skills; 1) putting items on a continuum, 2) sequencing events, and 3) matching sentence halves. This past school year we introduced Conjunctions with Sentence Strips and have been using Sentence Strips to match (and then create) sentence halves. This also works well with text structures, especially sentences that have two clear halves--Cause-Effect, Problem-Solution, Sequencing; especially Conditional (If/then) sentences.
To start, give a set (sentence strips, whiteboard markers, and erasers) to each pair of students. Partners work together to make complete sentences. The following pictures capture last week's work on using "Both, So Do I, Neither and Either".