Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Share

Hi, it's Kim from Quinnessential Lessons. I created this activity last year when I felt like all our ELA test prep was taking the fun out of reading/ELA. When testing season was over I wanted to bring the enjoyment back to reading. From that, Book Share was born.
The Wings of Fire series is a huge hit in my class this year.

This is not a book report. The students picked a favorite book that they had already read to share with the class. They created a new cover for the book and wrote a few sentences to encourage other students to read the book. They then gave a 2-3 minute book talk. I left this part very open ended. Students could share a favorite part of the book, they could tell why it was their favorite book, they could compare it to another book, etc. The only thing they could not do was give the ending away. 
I love the cover this student created for Smile.

This year I assigned this activity just before testing started. I thought what better way to spend the afternoons after the morning's testing. Well, as usual, nothing has gone as planned. Our schedule has been crazy. There have been multiple interruptions. As a result only five students have shared books at this point. The good news? Those books are now making their way around the classroom. And not a day has gone by that a student hasn't asked, "Are we doing more book shares today?"
This student did such a great job sharing her book that about half the class is in line to read The Name of This Book is Secret.
It's so wonderful when students appreciate the classics.

How do you keep testing from sucking the fun out of school? How do you get your students excited about books?

Monday, May 9, 2016

What Are You Reading? May Edition

 It's time for our "What Are You Reading?" linky here at Focused on Fifth. You are invited to join us by blogging about a book you are reading for the upper elementary classroom. It can be a book your students love, a professional book, an old favorite, or a new must have. So what are you reading?

To link up with us, please write a short blog post about a book that includes our graphic and link back to this post. Happy Reading from Focused on Fifth!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Look at the Final Product: An Inquiry Based Journalism Unit

Hi, this is Brandi, from The Research Based Classroom. In March I posted about my newest writing endeavor. We were doing an inquiry based journalism unit that integrated our state reports in social studies. You can read that post here. Today I am so excited to show the final products my students created.
A fifth grade statement on the importance of gun control.
You could have a boring day or you could go to these interactive sites!
Arizona is probably best in the spring.

This author pretended it was back in the 1800's, just after the Civil War, so that she could argue for racial equality.
What? You can't view a moose from an airplane? And you can shoot a bear legally, but it's against the law to wake one up for a photograph. These are hard to believe.
I love that this Alaska newspaper was titled "The Last Frontier." The breaking news is from WW2.

I love all of the symbols of California that she used in her masthead.
"Donald Trump, love him or hate him....." Great voice. There were a lot of political editorials written.
This student is obsessed with WW2 and even though his state was North Carolina, he found a way to write an editorial about support for WW2.

This student's middle name is Gehrig and he was so excited to write an obituary for someone that he shared a name with.

What will I do differently next year?

First, I did really great with setting deadlines for rough drafts and revisions on the first five articles everyone did. But when we got to the four student choice articles, I didn't set deadlines and I really wish I had. Many students waited until the last minute and then either tried to throw 4 different articles at me on the last day or just put their articles in the final product without a rough draft or revision. I think the choice articles would have been a lot more thoughtful and complete if I had set dates.
Second, I also didn't spend as much time with the inquiry part on the choice articles and you can tell by the quality of their work. Next year I will continue pulling up mentor texts and letting the students work together to discover what a good article in that particular genre looks like.
Third, I need to enlist the help of others. I don't have enough devices for everyone to work on their research at the same time. So next year I am planning to ask the computer teacher to help them with their research during their computer time. I may need to have them do some more research at home too.
Lastly, I want to tighten up the amount of time we spend on the unit. I didn't know how long we would need and that probably led to me moving a little slower than I needed to.

What did I love?

I love, love, love the inquiry based approach to writing. I loved the opportunity to learn from mentors who write on a daily basis as a career. It was good for my students to see that there are different types of authors. Not all authors write books. I loved that it fostered an awareness of what was happening in the world today and still gave us a chance to talk about topics of historical significance. But mostly I loved that we were able to learn about so many different types of genres and we could use all that we already know about persuasive writing, narrative writing, and informational writing to create really great pieces.

Happy writing from my fifth grade to yours!