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May 6 2014

City of Ember Writing

The last 5th grade CIA unit is the City of Ember written by Jeanne DuPrau.  It is about a futuristic society that was built underground to save the human race from extinction. The people who live in Ember do not know any of this.  All they know is that everything in their environment relies on electricity.  But, the generator that makes the electricity is starting to break down and there are more and more blackouts.  The people are also worried about food, because there seems to be shortages of everything.  Students find out that there are two people, Lina and Doon, who want to try to save Ember.  How can 12 year olds save a city?

April 9 2014

4th Grade Writers

Writing is a big part of the CIA program as it gives students a chance to think deeper about a text.  I love how the quadrants all end in a writing assignment.  After reading multiple units students know what to expect when they reach the end of a quadrant.  This year I will complete three units whole class with one book study independently.  Each book has increased in text complexity to allow students to grow as readers and writers.  My current unit of Streams to the River, River to the Sea will give my students their most detailed Retell Summary experience in 4th grade.  This unit is twice as long as the Shiloh and Castles units and students are taking a lot more notes in their CIA journals.  The charts that they keep are longer and more detailed and they are getting introduced to new charts (cause and effect, actions/motivations, and hardships/response/character traits).  With this novel students are making deeper connections about how a character feels.  They will use this to create their final piece of writing at the end of quadrant 4.  For my three units this year my students have completed multiple retell summaries, a compare and contrast piece, a persuasive essay, a problem/solution piece, and two literary essays.

February 26 2014

Historical Fiction - Chains

My class will begin reading Chains in January. There are a couple of things I think about, one the genre is Historical Fiction and two, it will be the longest book students have read so far during the school year.  I know from past experience that the length of the book will, at first, intimidate them.  In order to help them understand the genre, my 5th grade colleague, Kathryn Oswood, made up a template for us to include in our reading packets.  The template helps students to compare and contrast realistic fiction to historical fiction.  Below is a sample of the completed template.  We give students a blank template and we try to complete as much as we can together.  I also use the genre posters Sarah developed to hang in my room, so students have a quick reference tool to use whenever they need it.

February 24 2014

MLK and Writing

Well, we are finally halfway through Martin Luther King Jr.’s biography! It feels like we’ve been reading this short book forever…and yet the students are not bored or in need of extra entertainment to stay engaged. They have taken the big ideas and the details to heart, searching each week in library for connecting texts and noticing protests and boycotts on the news at home. There has been such an outpouring of connections, I have had to start a “waitlist” poster so I can pull connections when I am ready for them instead of giving up time we don’t have each day (I do think they could use up a whole subject area with excited sharing of connections – and I wish I could let them!)

October 22 2013

Writing - Finishing Poppy

Poppy is Over  :-(

Every single student in my classroom can now say that they have read a chapter book as we have finished reading Poppy. I’m not sure who is more bummed out, me or my students.

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