Stupendous storytellers

Although our last integrated theme study ended at winter break, I wanted to capture it’s excellence on the blog and share and celebrate the students’ amazing “behind the scenes” literacy work! We began our study with the question: Why do people tell stories? We listened to amazing folklore, investigated elements of story and engaged in dramatic retells as we constructed our answer: 1. To entertain 2. To teach you how to behave 3. To tell you why it’s like that. Students then focused in on a specific genre of folktale: porquoi stories; stories that connected to our past work in mysteries since porquoi tales attempt to explain the mysteries of the universe. We worked and played alongside our guest artist in residence and former Trillium advisor, Jeremy as we chose stories, partners and places to focus and practice. We story mapped, story plotted and story mountained quality folklore from all over the world. We told our stories across our fingers, played drama games and discussed  important storytelling elements, like face expression, body movement and sound effects to individually and creatively story-tell. Students studied color and symbol and then collaborated to make hand painted banners that captured big ideas of character, setting and porquoi in symbol. Storytellers were supported with integrated literacy work in both readers’ and writers’ workshop as well as peer feedback in the form of “golden nuggets and bittersweet chocolate”. Students produced advertising for the culminating event(s), A storytelling festival and multiple storytelling “gigs” around school.

The storytellers were awe-inspiring. They were brave, bold and brilliant!

Design Challenges

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To help develop and enhance our year long (hopefully life long) focus in wonder, with an emphasis on creativity, problem solving, collaboration and imagination, we have already had 2 design challenges (both proposed by the kids at class meeting)! Our first was a mystery box challenge, where students integrated and expanded their ideas of mystery […]

I know it’s past due, but as you may have heard, I have recently had much technical difficulty with the blog. Though I can now get my images to upload, WordPress has hidden my slideshow option. I’ll keep working at it; but better late than never…Here are some images from our Halloween trip to the pumpkin patch, the parade that followed and the connected study in literacy and art the next day with our group inquiry into Día de los Muertos. We read and listened to informative text and personally responded about the holiday, activated our own background knowledge, experimented with the art and culture of the holiday, adventured to view an authentic ofrenda (altar) and subsequently visited our adopted park for the first time as well! What an amazing couple of days!

Read on!!

If I can find an ear to listen, I can talk about literacy in our classroom all day. We continue to learn and practice what strong readers do. We have established a new and improved readers’ workshop and find several times during our week for guided book groups, shared reading, private and partner reading and multiple read alouds. We also work with words and story at literacy choice time in the morning, word study, writers’ workshop and during our new storytelling theme time. Last month we were challenged to track our reading at home and at school during the read-a-thin to fundraise for a new playground. Thanks to all our sponsors! Check out literacy in action in the following slide show and how we celebrated the end of our read-a-thon with a pajama read-in!

Creating Comics

You may have heard from your child that we have had a guest artist in our room weekly. Nicole Georges, an illustrator and comic artist has lead the kids through comic creation that connect to our work in writer’s workshop; telling a personal narrative with sequence, and important, vivid detail. Students have had drawing lessons that connected to our work with character traits, and as long as the story was true and about them, they could represent themselves as any thing (carrot, ninja) or animal (dogs, hamsters etc..) they could imagine! Students practiced story telling across the pages with image and word. They began inking their comics today and we will go to print soon!

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There is a mystery afoot…

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Our Mystery unit is an exciting way for us to develop our observation, creative and critical thinking, inquiry and problem solving skills. We have connected our theme to other areas of study, like mystery books in read aloud, readers workshop and book groups, inquiry and creative/visual thinking challenges throughout the day, and mystery messages in guided writing and a focus on “theory/evidence”, prediction making and questioning strategies in games, math, literacy workshops, sharing and Talent Tuesday.

We are also immersed in a pretend crime solving, where we have honed our detective skills to determine who borrowed Mr. Bear. We have determined important clues from the story, constructed a clue board, performed scientific inquiry in two different crime labs with centers that identified fingerprints, tested for sleeping potion, and tape-lifted evidence off the borrowed bear. We created a table of our shared findings and will meet again on Monday to share our theories and back it with our proof!

The i in team….

We continue to share the “me” inside the “we” as we share treasures and talents and strengthen the community! We have met as a group, problem solved and played as pairs and teams in several different ways and for several different reasons. In math we are collecting data about ourselves. In writer’s workshop we are writing from what we know best; true stories about ourselves and in readers workshop, we are studying our own reading behaviors and understandings.We continue to work toward group agreements to help our classroom hopes and dreams come true!

In our official “class” meeting, we have discussed a few problems that arose in our learning community and listened to proposals of a Sharing Day and a Talent Tuesday. Both proposals passed! Talent Tuesday is being supported by our work in character education, social learning and multiple intelligences. We discuss talents in all different kinds of “smarts”, survey classmate’s interests and practice being an awesome audience member. So far our past  Talent Tuesday’s have had magic tricks, balancing, gymnastics, drawing, jokes, music and dance!

In sharing we get to find out more about classroom curiosities, interests and passions. We practice storytelling, active listening and questioning strategies. Please help your child remember that Fridays are our sharing days! They can bring a treasure to them…something that has a story perhaps…something mysterious!

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