Class Updates | Photos
I am so incredibly excited about the new school year! Summer School kicked off two weeks ago and we are now in the full swing of things! This year, I am only teaching 5th Grade History, which I am beyond thrilled to do.
I'm sticking with a "time traveling through history" theme (hence the old suitcases, books, globes, etc.) and have re-created my awesome people (of color) wall and quotes. Added a few new figures to be truly inclusive of the population I'm teaching with and look forward to adding more figures they personally identify with.
I'm really interested in the ways in which I'll be able to incorporate critically conscious thinking, teaching and learning into the curriculum in ways that I hope will help students to more critically engage with the world around them. I'm in the process of reading and re-reading several texts so as to best frame how I want to approach my classroom this year (including Friere's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Zinn's People's History of the United States and Ruchi Agarwal-Rangnath's Social Studies, Literacy and Social Justice) and am actively engaging in conversations with other peers and educators alike to provide the most meaningful experience possible for our students. As a History Department in whole, we've discussed a multitude of academic and non-academic goals we want to set for our students this year, including more History-related fieldtrips, research-based assignments and opportunities for students to engage with their communities. I'm excited to see how all of this will play out and am eager to learn, tweak, create and re-create more as the year progresses.
In terms of what we've actually been doing so far, our fifth grade focus right now has been on starting and organizing our Interactive Notebooks. I've done some experimenting with Interactive Notebooks in the past and to be honest, it hasn't always been successful. They're tedious and time-consuming and you have to have a very clear vision from the very beginning on how you want them to be set up and maintained otherwise student investment dies out pretty quick (as does yours!) So I spent some time this summer researching and pulling resources and though we're only two weeks in, so far we've been successful. I provided students with Guidelines, had them process the information creatively, and have been very hands on in terms of step-by-step instructions and modeling as we continue to add to it. I've positively framed the entire experience as 1. being an extremely creative means by which students can take and organize important notes in a way that makes sense for them and 2. as a piece of artwork to be proud of and to treat with extreme care. I've been really amazed with some of the work so far!
Our first unit focuses on Native American cultures pre-European Exploration. I look forward to adding more updates soon as we engage with rich traditional stories and primary sources!
So it's definitely been some time since I've posted and now that the new school year is off to a great start, I wanted to take some time to update the site. I've played around with the template, updated some content and have been a solemn vow to myself to keep this site updated more frequently this year. It's my sincere hope that I'll not only continue to provide an inside look into our classroom, but to also provide resources for other teachers. But before I can get to any of that, I remembered that I need to acknowledge some pretty big news...
As our 2nd Social Studies Benchmark indicated, students are still having trouble citing text-based evidence in open response questions. This issue also speaks to their ability to answer multiple-choice questions that require the same skill.
In order to correct this, we spent time today re-evaluating how we initially wrote about two sources that conveyed two different European opinions of Native Americans during early settlement. First, we performed a close-reading of each text, annotating in the margins about the general ideas each European perspective represented. Then, we reviewed the following three steps (MSE) students should keep in mind when citing evidence from the text:
Make your claim
1. Copy the sentence directly from the text
2. Put the sentence in quotation marks (" ")
3. Include the page/paragraph number in parentheses after the quote
4. Add a period after the parentheses
Explain how your evidence supports your claim
Below you'll find an example of the re-looping questions, as well as student work that demonstrates her ability to properly use the MSE method.
Achieve 3000 is a phenomenal online program that provides differentiated informational text articles and corresponding activities, multiple-choice questions, and open-response opportunities for students. It tracks their progress, readjusts articles based on progress they have made with their Lexile level, and provides a great opportunity for me to give feedback on students' writing.
In order to increase investment this semeseter and to allow students to take more ownership of their progress, we've assembled a bulletin board and individual student tracking folders. In each folder, students have a personal data tracker, a Criteria for Success that outlines how to complete the full 5-step Achieve 3000 process for each article, and a one-pager on the different sorts of badges the program gives out for great work. Students know that their goal is to complete at least 40 articles at 75% or above. For each article that they complete at this level, they are able to move their car down "The Road to 40", inching closer to their goal each day. They also updated their individual trackers accordingly and use stickers to acknowledge the various "badges" they collect on the program for exemplary work.
Should you have any questions about the program or should you be interested in any of the materials I have assembled for the bulletin board/individual trackers, feel free to e-mail me email@example.com.
Black History Month is off to a great start at KIPP Charlotte and especially within the Pride of 2022! This month, our curriculum will focus on critical Black thinkers, artists and figures, pushing students to engage in meaningful conversations about race and culture.
School-wide, students will have the opportunity to focus on an individual who has made a profound impact in each of their respective core academic subject areas. This week, we're exploring Benjamin Banneker (Math), Dr. Charles Drew (Science), Langston Hughes (Reading) and David Walker (Social Studies).
In addition to this, students will have the opportunity to attend a Film Screening and fieldtrips to local cultural museums, as well as participate in our Black History Month Quiz Bowl at the end of the month. We're hoping to provide a powerful experience for all students that will expose them to individuals, events, ideas and concepts that have shaped not only their individual realities, but the realities of our larger world.
Check back for more and look out for updates from our students in the upcoming weeks!
The 2014-2015 academic school year is in full swing! The Pride of 2022 (KIPP Charlotte's 5th grade) has been busy building Foundational Skills in both Reading and Social Studies for the past month and a half. Students are gearing up to read their first 5th grade novel (Sadako) this week, applying Kylene Beer's Signposts to derive meaning. In Social Studies, students are preparing to participate in their first Paideia Seminar, discussing the impact of European Exploration on Native American cultures. Stay tuned for more updates!
For the past month, we have been working on exploring different ways in which individuals in our communities, in the world around us and in the texts we read have demonstrated courage.
During the first part of our unit, we discussed and wrote about a time in our lives in which we have had to show courage or someone near us has. Students spoke and wrote extensively about standing up against bullying, helping a friend or loved one in need, or having the confidence to speak up in school when struggling academically.
Next, we learned about instances of courage in the world, focusing on the Greensboro Four and the Lost Boys of Sudan. Not only did we read about these historical moments, but we also watched part of the The Butler (the sit-in scene), as well as God Forgot About Us, in order to better visualize what these moments actually consisted of.
Finally, we spent several weeks diving into the Holocaust to understand how individuals during this time period found ways to courageously undermine the lasting power of the Nazi Party. Higher level students read The Diary of Anne Frank over Spring Break and are in the process of completing independent projects to synthesize their thoughts and reflections. As a class, we worked with various informational text sources that covered Anne Frank's life and experiences. Considering the fact that many of my students had never previously heard of the Holocaust, many of them were absolutely fascinated (and downright enraged) to learn what had taken place less than a century ago. I have been extremely proud and amazed by the maturity and thoughtfulness they have demonstrated as they have processed difficult information and viewed disturbing images of genocide.
This week, students are writing five-paragraph essays on the ways in which Anne Frank's life and diary exemplified courage. I am excited to share those essays, as well as some of the higher level independent projects, with you all this week as they are submitted.
On another note, students take their Spring MAP Test Tuesday. We're all excited to see how much students have grown this year! Also, we will be starting our final unit on Poetry next week -- which is sure to be lot of fun!
February was such a busy month! Check out what we've been up to!
Jamya Sistrunk won Battle of the Books last month, having read more books than other any fifth grader for the month of January!
On February 6, KIPP Charlotte held its annual Career Fair. Parents and community members volunteered to speak with students about their roles and responsibilities in their varied industries. Here, three fifth graders discuss what it takes to be a police officer with one of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's own.
On February 21 (the 49th anniversary of Malcolm X's assassination), Amad Shakur, Founder and Director for the Center for the African Diaspora here in Charlotte, came and spoke to students about the importance of resistance, religion and education in Black History.
On March 4, we held our Black History Month program entitled Living a Legacy. Students performed as famous historical figures, such as Phyllis Wheatley, W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, and Frederick Douglass. We also had vocal and dance performances.
5th graders donned their professional dress and visited the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Culture + Art on March 6th, which proved to be such an invaluable opportunity for students to view work from such artists as Kara Walker and Margo Humphrey. Afterwards, students ate at Mellow Mushroom in Uptown Charlotte!
Spent an afternoon last week listening to and discussing the theme of "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" (the actual song). Such a fun way to engage students in figurative language and determining the theme of a text (though I was undoubtedly thrown off by the number of students who had never heard of Ms. Hill before!)
What an interesting week we've had! Wednesday and Thursday were snow days for Charlotte schools so students and teachers alike enjoyed a few days at home and out of the cold. Though we're back at school today, regular classes won't resume until next week since today we have Step-Up Friday, a time when school staff breaks the whole student body into small groups for differentiated instruction. In one of my small groups this morning, we worked on the three types of irony (situational, dramatic and verbal). In the other, we continued to work on our story analyses to respond to a text we started last week.
But what did 5th grade do this week? Well, on Monday and Tuesday we dived into Tuck Everlasting, focusing on foreshadowing, predictions and figurative language primarily. According to the text, Treegap (the magical wood that contains the spring of everlasting life) is situated at the hub of the story, one of the story's major metaphors. Students worked with dry erase markers on their desk to visualize this hub. They made predictions (educated guesses based on foreshadowing) about the ways in which characters will be connected, taking into consideration that the author mentioned "all roads lead to Treegap". This was a really great way to get the students to make connections and to imagine the hub metaphor as representing the circle of life (not to mention students love dry erase markers haha).
Above is one of our students who prides herself on being such a helper. She came in yesterday during the snow day to help organize the classroom and make copies for next week. The true question remains: Does she enjoy helping or warming her face with fresh copies more? :)