Language Arts and Social Studies
We just completed our Japanese historical novel unit. The students had discussion groups where they worked on asking and answering quality discussion questions, while using text evidence to support their ideas. In addition, we had a series of weekly quizzes. I was most impressed by the second quiz where students had to use a graphic organizer to structure an essay whether the main character in the novel was a hero or not. There were excellent essays both pro and con. Finally, there were the Bloom Projects, hopefully these choices allowed students to pick and choose how they showed their understanding of the novel.
In January we will be reading the Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. This is a challenging novel that follows an Ojibwa girl, Turtle through one year of her life. Each section is a season and shows how she faces the challenges and joys of each season. This book will accompany our social studies unit that will focus on the study of Native Americans of different regions and how the resources of each region affect the life style of each group. In addition, we will do a small study of Native American folktales. As a culmination to this unit we will have a field trip to the Field Museum to explore their amazing Native American collection.
This week was the completion of our Chicago River environmental unit. We concluded by testing the cleaners presented in the Think Beyond the Banks pamphlet. Students found that for the most part they worked as well as the commercial cleaners we use in the classroom. Since they are cheaper we will be using them around the classroom. You might want to check out the recipes and try them at home.
When we return from break we will be starting our electricity and magnetism unit. This is a fun unit that has lots of hands on exploration. I have received a grant from the Chicago Foundation for Education that will allow me to design a new engineering component as the culminating challenge for the unit.