Every week, people from all over the world meet at Ruth Ayres' place to celebrate happenings from their week. Usually I don't get my act together to celebrate, but yesterday I was invited to a huge celebration. In this age where rigor too often seems synonymous with ridiculously difficult, and where engagement is forgotten way too often, there are still teachers who continue to do amazing work, and I just felt like this needed to be shared.
In my district, each grade level does an author study. The fifth grade author is Roald Dahl, and for the past six weeks, our students have immersed themselves in his work. I recognize that some people do not believe in asking all students to study the same author, but that's part of our district curriculum, and we work really hard to make it meaningful and engaging for students.
Each fifth grader has heard/read at least three Roald Dahl books (and many have read more). They've also read a biography, excerpts from BOY, and fractured fairy tales from Dahl's REVOLTING RHYMES. Yesterday they celebrated their expertise by inviting the fourth graders and a few adults to share their final products. I apologize that there are no students in these pictures- I took lots, but I'm not sure who has photo permissions and who doesn't. I wish you could have seen their smiles, but also how nervous they were, and how serious they were about sharing their work. I'm not a photographer, but sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words…
A banner welcomed the fourth graders to the fifth classroom.
Desks were arranged in a big U around the outside of the classroom. Each student displayed the books they had read, their research file, an author timeline, their pamphlet of book reviews,
and a five paragraph literary analysis essay.
Guiding questions for learning about Dahl's life,
surrounded by some Roald Dahl timelines
Close reading of Roald Dahl biography. Sorry it's sideways!
Another timeline, close up
Students compared two of Dahl's books to begin to identify commonalities.
They then used these characteristics to track the commonalities across other Dahl books. I'm not sure if you can read it but the boxes outlined in pink are related to language, those related to blue are related to plot. Book titles are listed down the left side, then students rated each book with a plus, check, or slash to indicate the presence of a particular characteristic. They totaled the columns to decide whether a characteristic always, usually, occasionally, or rarely appears in Dahl's books.
Roald Dahl pamphlets. These included an introduction and three book reviews. The colored squares represent the results of the semantic feature analysis. Roald Dahl always, Roald Dahl usually, etc. …
The back side of the pamphlet, where students identified theme
and cited the evidence that led them to draw their conclusions.
Students used Alphaboxes to gather interesting vocabulary.
Finally, they wrote and revised five paragraph literary analysis essays.
Our kids just LOVE Roald Dahl.
I just love kids doing
and DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE
reading, writing and thinking!
Head over to Ruth Ayres blog for lots more celebrations.