There's no place like ELA class!
ELA has been loud, busy, and very musical lately as we get on the home stretch toward our production! During some of the rehearsals, kids are working on finishing their crossword puzzles to practice their vocabulary words. Any kids who want to help make props are welcome to stay at school next Monday, December 10 from 3:30 - 5:00.
And don't forget to come watch us! Production times below:
Tuesday, December 18 at 9:00 AM
Thursday, December 20 at 6:30 PM
Run time is about an hour. Kids should plan on getting to school by 8:30 on the 18th and by 6:00 on the 20th. See you then!
We had a fun week in ELA! We finished A SINGLE SHARD, which is such a great book! And in celebration we headed to UMMA, the Universtiy of Michigan Museum of Art, where they have one of the biggest collections of Korean pottery in the country! Who knew? They also have a whole tour and activities planned around this book. It was really fun to see examples of the green-gray celadon pottery we've been reading so much about. The kids also go to be emissaries themselves as museum volunteers presented various types of Korean pottery and they got to choose one of them to award a commission, just like happened in A SINGLE SHARD.
In addition, we rehearsed our play and created our own crossword puzzles with the vocabulary words we chose! (Each student has chosen 20 words to study. The words came from three different lists, depending on the needs of the student. Many used a 5th grade list, others used a Middle School (6-8th grade) list, and a few grabbed some words off an SAT list for fun.
Book Reports and Fall Stories
We are almost finished reading A SINGLE SHARD, and if I'm being COMPLETELY honest, we could have finished it this week, but I would have been crushed had they finished it without me, so we will read the last two chapters Monday and Tuesday after break. This week, students are working on the 4 Fiction Planners that we use to think about our upcoming stories. These 4 planners are just the first part of our publication process, which you can see outlined in the image at the end of this post. I'm so excited to start it!
Planner 1 asks them to think about the overarching questions of their story (who is the main character, what does he/she want and does he/she get it?).
Planner 2 asks students to draw two pictures of their setting--a rough picture where they think about the geography, details, and items they will include as well as what point of view the picture will be from, and then a final color draft.
Planner 3 is a chance to interview your main character and really get to know him or her. Even if their favorite food doesn't come up in the story, the author should know! Even if we never meet the little sister, the author should know about her!
Planner 4 is a list of scenes and forces students to think about where their story is going and how the tension is balanced throughout it. (Without this, I find that a lot of kids just start writing and haven't gotten their character out of bed after 5 pages!)
Speaking of 5 pages, one of the (probably many) things that gets my students mad at me is my insistence on page and word limits for writing assignments. But if they want to write sequels and trilogies and long pieces, they can certainly do that at home! And there may be a place for that at some point. But do you know what is even harder than writing a 10-page story? Writing a 5-page story and making sure all the details are relevant, all of the conversation important. Editing work out is HARD, but erasing is as much a part of writing as writing itself. So, be forewarned, there will be a page limit on these stories.
This week in ELA we continued to read A SINGLE SHARD by Linda Sue Park, and we learned that we will soon get to do the A SINGLE SHARD tour of the Ann Arbor Art Museum which will be fun! Speaking of that, we are planning on doing this tour on Thursday, November 29 at 12:15. Given the awesome numbers in the 5/6 class, we will need one parent driver/chaperone to drive 2 kids. Let me know if you are interested!
Students are also continuing their independent reading of Linda Sue Park's other books, and it's been fun to talk about what they are reading about. Next week, as more students get further into more of their books, we will discuss each book more in depth.
We worked on Wizard of Oz only for a few minutes this week--it was a good reminder that everyone needs to memorize their lines so we can run smoother practices!
We also had a chance to look through our writing journals and choose one to work on over the next few weeks for editing and publication. I'm excited to see what they come up with!
A week of Linda Sue Park books!
It's been fun to start reading A SINGLE SHARD in class, a book about a homeless boy in 12th century Korea who wants to be a potter and starts work as an apprentice--although so far he's mostly only chopped wood and dug for clay at the riverbank. Students also began reading their independent books, choosing from a number of Linda Sue Park books for their independent read. While we will have some reading time in class, it's expected that students mostly read these at home.
Many students in fact, have already finished theirs, and moved on to a 2nd or even 3rd option. It's fun to have so many kids being able to read and talk about each of these books. Their book review is not due until November 16, but I have encouraged the ones who have finished with their reading to start the review now, as I suspect it will be harder the further removed they are from the reading.
I have so far checked in with all the students on their independent reading to make sure they are understanding the books. If they seem to be struggling, please encourage them to come to me! It's also perfectly acceptable to have them listen to audiobook versions or read aloud with them.
In class today, we also worked on highlighting their vocabulary lists. PINK for words they found really challenging, GREEN for words they found really easy (I said only green if you could define this word and use it in a sentence in your sleep while someone was shouting at you). I suspect some students highlighted more GREEN words that truly fit into that definition, but that's still a good way to reflect on what we know and what we think we know. We've been playing some vocabulary games in class as well, and it's interesting to see how even words we think are really easy become harder when you have to think of a definition for it.
So the first thing I want to say is that I created a video for parents to teach you a little bit about Google Classroom. You can watch it here:
Click here to see a screencast on HOW TO NAVIGATE GOOGLE CLASSROOM! For students and parents alike.
There's more information about homework at the bottom of this post.
This week in class, we focused on three areas: the Wizard of Oz, writing workshop, and vocabulary.
Wizard of Oz
Most kids know all of their lines and we are well on our way to singing all the songs as well! We are having fun with this! We may take a slight break, practicing only once or twice a week for a bit while the students catch up in art class, where they will be making their masks. We are looking at a performance during the week after Thanksgiving, so we make sure we have the masks done in time. Stay tuned for exact dates and times.
In journals this week, we focused on dragons, which was both a theme in our last book and also our school mascot! We also had a lot of fun writing parodies of the famous "This is just to say" poem by William Carlos WIlliams, including one parody from the point of view of the dragon in our lunchroom.
Students chose which list they are going to work from over the next few months, either the BASIC one or the ADVANCED one. The trick is to choose one that is not overwhelming, but gives you a good amount of challenge. Today, we did an exercise in class where they chose a word from their list that was less familiar, looked up the definition, and then worked in groups to create a story with all the words. We got some funny stories, which you can watch in the videos below. One video is currently stubbornly stuck in the right column. I will work on that.
We also spent some time in class this week making sure everyone understood all assignments that are coming up. I shared this IMPORTANT FACT: The only homework between now and Thanksgiving are the following things (which are all on google classroom already):
(1) Read independent books, which will be handed out on Monday.
(2) Write book review on independent book, which is due November 16, and which you can learn more about on google classroom.
(3) Study you chosen vocabulary list for 10 minutes a week. (We will do more studying in class.) Lists are linked from google classroom and there are lots of ways to practice--have a family member quiz you, make flashcards, practice online at vocabulary.com, or play jams with your friends. Note: Students who feel they need an accommodation of fewer words or a different list can definitely ask!
Leftover homework in case you aren't quite there yet (that was already due):
(1) grammar game! I think there are only 1 or 2 missing!
(2) memorize lines and songs--might be a good idea to continue studying these
Board games and blocking and choices, oh my!
This was such a fun week in ELA! Between read-alouds, we spent the week moving around a lot. We rehearsed all the scenes for the Wizard of Oz (pssh... your kids should have all their lines memorized by Tuesday so maybe you can help them out this weekend!) We practiced our blocking and learned terms like stage right and stage left and what it means (in a very literal sense!) to "upstage" someone. We are even managing to work in some songs, which is really fun.
It was also our last week of grammar games, which proved to be both exciting and a bit overwhelming. Despite my many "please remember that you may need to work at home on this and that you are responsible for turning it on the due date", we had several groups fall short. However, it's a learning experience for all of us and a good reminder that we need to start thinking ahead about how long work is going to take us as we travel into our middle and high school years. I did get several groups' finished games, though, and they are truly awesome! I'm really excited to have a day to play them all together!
I will be ordering our independent reading books this weekend. That choice was due today, so anyone who didn't choose, I will choose for them. They are all great books, by the excellent Linda Sue Park, so I think everyone will be excited either way. As I explained to the kids (and on google classroom) there are a limited number of books kids can read for their first book, but those who choose to read more than one can pick any of her books as a second option.
See you Monday at conferences!
This was a fun week in ELA! We all got our parts for the Wizard of Oz and started reading through the script. It was fun to hear everyone trying out voices and emotions for their characters. We also finished our read aloud book, which I at least, loved! THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON was such a fun, powerful story with a wonderful ending for its characters. We've begun to talk a little bit about the similarities between the book and the story in the Wizard of Oz--ask your kids if they can think of how they relate, because we will be talking more about that next year.
We've also done some more vocabulary work on our list of 100 words, and the kids are really into the Jams, a competitive game with the words that some of them like to play. (Those that don't want to can practice on their own.) I told them it was fun to teach at a school where the smack talk was about vocabulary. :)
Next week we will be wrapping up our work with this read aloud and starting out next one. Students will also have the chance to choose their independent reading book, so stay tuned for information about that! Students can choose any book by Linda Sue Park, so if they want to start thinking about their choice, her website is a good place to start:
This week in ELA, we read several more chapters of WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON and spent a lot of time working on our grammar games. I'm excited to see where the kids go with these! So far, I've seen a wide variety of game types and rules and how students are integrating teaching grammar into their games. I HIGHLY encourage students to spend some time this weekend on google classroom, making sure they understand what is required of them and when it's coming up.
If you want to see the rubric of expectations for this game, click here to see it (or head to google classroom).
We also got our IXL.com accounts up and running.
If you missed curriculum night, or just want to relive it, or want to see the slides on IXL I had forgotten to add earlier :), check out my presentation below. As always, email if you have any questions!
Hi parents! Welcome to the ELA blog. Every week, I will post an update of what we've done in ELA class. As I got things prepared to post today, I couldn't believe how much we've done! Here are some highlights:
We've started reading Grace Lin's beautiful book WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON. It follow Minli as she sets out from home to change her family's poor fortune. So far, Minli has already met a helpful dragon to accompany her along the way. We've seen Minli's parents, who are sad that she is gone, but have accepted that they need to wait for her to return. Interspersed throughout the book are Chinese folktales, or stories written by the author based on Chinese folktales. As your kids to tell you one! Maybe The Story of Fruitless Mountain or The Story of the Old Man of the Moon or the Story of the Paper of Happiness. Speaking of the paper of happiness, which is naturally elusive, all we know about it is that it had one word written on it. This week in class, students had the chance to share what they think the one word was. Ideas included peace, thankfulness, respect, love, patience, tranquility, and, perhaps my favorite, sleep. Students have also spent time illustrating the book and its ideas.
Another thing we've introduced is a "4C's" book talk. In small groups, students find connections to the book (from themselves or another book or film for example), concepts they agree with from the book, challenges they have for the book, and changes they think the book might make in their lives (or maybe a change a character made). I read a reading resource this summer that said you aren't really reading unless the book is changing your life, which is a concept I really loved. To see the 4C's chart the kids use in class, check out the reading resources page.
We've also begun to talk about parts of speech, reviewing or being introduced to the concepts of noun, pronoun, etc. The slides we used to learn these are in reading resources. In partners or groups of 3, students are working on creating games to teach others what these words mean. We will work on these games over the next few weeks, first turning in a list of materials need to create them, then the goal of the game and a set of instructions, until finally the game itself is due later in October.
And finally, and maybe most importantly, we've started our writing workshop journals with a few prompts, such as "how do you eat an ice cream cone," and "there is a dragon at your windowsill..."