Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cherie P. - Voice at Jay Middle School

     Cherie works with two groups of special educations students - 5th and 6th grade.   While she is still focusing on fluency in her students' writing, she is beginning to help them develop voice by having them make connections to personal experiences and write about them with descriptors brainstormed by the group.

  Cheri is presently using Diary of a Whimpie Kid  by Jeff Kinney as a read aloud for her fifth grade group and  Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Clearly as a read aloud for her 6th grade group.  For each section she reads to the fifth grade students, they are noting words they don't know as well as writing a summary of events for that day.  Once a week, they are writing about a topic from the novel.  Cheri selects the topic based on the level of personal connections students can make, i.e. waking up in the morning.  The students brainstorm and share their personal information on the topic and then craft their paragraph.  Cheri is planning on  using the four square format to help them organize their writing.  The sixth grade students are following a similar format, but Cheri finds they are making higher level connections.

During our debriefing in the afternoon, Cheri shared this website with us:  Ed Helper
As I explored this site, I noticed a section on the winter Olympics.  The section is really great and gives you all of the info you would need to develop a unit.

Thanks, Cheri.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Nancy Voice at Grade 7 in Jay Middle School

     Nancy came to conference with a stack of student papers and a smile - eager to share.  Early on this year she discovered her students are very comfortable with the friendly letter format and has used it for a variety of  assignments - with great results.  Since our last meeting, she had used this format to develop voice through an assignment on Maniac McGee written by author Jerry Spinelli.  
     First Nancy identified the main characters in the book.  Next students drew the name of characters out of a hat.  Then Nancy had students write to another character in the book.  She paired the characters (students).  Here is an example of the "Old Rag Picker" writing to Jeffrey.
                                                                        728 Sycamore St.
                                                                        Two Mills, PA 11111
                                                                        January 14, 2010

Dear Jeffrey,

   I never knew the way you just come in the east end like you live here until now.  I think you should stay on the west end for now.  I get really angry when some white kids thinks they are brave just for coming on the east end.  It isn't that hard for a kids to just walk or run into the east end!  I might of been able to walk in the west end when I was a kid.  I wouldn't be able to run now because of being so old.
     The next time I see you I might whack you on the head with a cane or a stick to show you a thing or two.  I thought I was seeing things when I had first seen you.  I think you better run away the next time you see me.  I will gather a group of elderly people to help me get you.  It would be a angry mob of elderly people riding on motrized scooters.
     I bet you are starting to get scared just thinking of ways I could get you to stay out of the east end.   Who do you think you are coming on the east end?  You don't belong here.  You do belong on the west end.  You white people have lots of parties and what not.  Why don't you just go make some friends on the west end. 
    You white people just don't know when to stop bothering us black people.  You never see any black people coming on the west unless you bring them.  You also don't see any black people trying to untie Cobbles Knot.  So many white people have great jobs.  Us black people don't get a chance to even try some of those great jobs.  While people are always thinking black people are going to attach the west end.  Black people have more important things to do the attack you whites.
     Some people are saying you are being nice to us blacks.  I think you just want to make trouble for us in the east end since you won't get in trouble when you go back on the west end.  Have fun while you still can.  When I find you I will chase you on a scooter until I either give up or the battery runs out of power.  Evern if I don't get you.  I will still hate you for what you have done.  You will be my number two most hated person until you stay on the west end.  Then and only then I won't hate you as much.  My number one most hated person is that broom lady.

                                                                              Old Rag Picker

The final part of the assignment will be to have the characters write a response to the letters they received.   Bravo and thanks for sharing:)

     For those of you who have read any of Spinelli's books you recognize the strength of his characters and stories.   Building on real reader response to well crafted literature, is a key component of 6+1 traits.  This is an excellent example of the power of reader response and how it provides an opportunity for students to access writing and craft those skills.   
     Jerry Spinelli talks about it this way.  On inspiration, the author says: "Ideas come from ordinary, everyday life. And from imagination. And from feelings. And from memories. Memories of dust in my sneakers and humming whitewalls down a hill called Monkey."
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dianne - Voice at Grade 6 in Jay Middle School

    When Dianne came to conference with me on Tuesday, she was bubbling with excitement.  Since we had last met, she and her 6th grade colleagues, Colleen and Susan, had decided to cancel spelling and use their language arts time on writing.  The student response was overwhelmingly positive!
     Through her reading response journals, Dianne has been teaching students to  building connections (developed into analogies) between the characters in the books and personal connections of their own.
     Dianne built on this process when she asked students to write about the earthquake in Haiti from three different perspectives.  We are delighted to have the opportunity to share - anonymously -one student's writing.  These are rough drafts.
P.S.  I chose the photos.

1.  Orphan's point of view  
Title:  Orphans in Haiti:  
Mommy, where are you?  I'm hungry.  Where's my Dada? As I sit in my withered box, I cry.  Where are my parents.  I sit alone crying sad not to have my mommy and my belly hurts.  I wait for it to rain.  I have a old can for water.  I have only the bugs that crawl by on the street to eat.  My belly aches I be very careful not to eat the rong bugs.
2.   Newscaster's point of view
Title: Haiti the most worst place to live
Haiti is a very troubled place. Kid's are dying from malnutrietion (that means starving.)  While I walk down the street little little kids crawl out of boxes.  There little belly's so tight you can see the outline of there bones.  Horrifyd that people might have to even eat rats or mice off the street little baby's crawl around with dirty diapers.  The smell of rotting body's envelopes the air it makes you sick.  I wonder if it would be better to be dead or live through this.
3.  Rescue worker's point of view
Title:  Am I walking in the footsteps of a hero for this child
I'm walking around looking for living.  Steam and the smell of rotting corpse I amlose puke.  I am almost afraid to look under the rubble.  I hear a scream. I run to it the sound is getting louder.  Under a pile of dabre (debris) a little girl was crying.  I dig and dig.  I start to think its in my mind.  Then I find a scraped and brused two year old. girl.  It's seem this isn't all bad because I found this baby.  lucky her mother didn't die so we where able to bring her back.  Next time we might not be so lucky
Bravo!  Thank you for sharing.  
The voice is powerful!
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