Thursday, February 11, 2016

PA and TD for the Week of 2-15

There is no school on Monday because of the President's day holiday, and no school on Tuesday for parent teacher conferences. 

Kindergarten Talent Development will be headed to the LMC this week to talk about making good book choices. 

First Grade Talent Development will be continuing our research on an inspirational person this week. 

Second Grade Talent Development will move forward with our research on the 12 Olympian Gods of Ancient Greece during our time together. 

Third Grade PA is going to begin exploring The Valley of the Kings in Ancient Egypt.  The kids will be selecting a few different tombs to explore, specifically the artifacts left behind, the artistic and architectural features of the tomb, and what they tell us about the king or queen's life.  The students will be using a great site, The Theban Mapping Project for this assignment. 

Fourth Grade PA will continue our exploratory research on a neurological disorder this week, and all of the students will be selecting the one they will be using for their research project and presentations. Everyone has a rubric for this project with all of the required components at school.

Fifth Grade PA all had a Capstone check in with me last week, and the projects are all progressing nicely.  This week we will switch gears and begin reading and annotating an autobiography written by an author.  The kids will be reading about the author's life, and then selecting a work of fiction written by the author to see how their personal experiences are reflected in the characters and stories they crafted, and how writing can be seen as a system with different inputs and outputs.  I'd like the kids to read about the books I have available, below, for this project before class on Wednesday so everyone can choose a book that they find interesting. 

The Girl from Yamhill, Beverly Cleary
Rationale: A Girl from Yamhill operates on many levels: as a straightforward recounting of the events in the life of a fairly ordinary child, as a psychological study of a young girl and her relationship with her mother, as the development of a writer, and as a history of American life in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Any one of these accounts can serve as an example of a system. One prominent example deals with Beverly’s discontent with the choices of books available to children during the early 20th century. As a child, Beverly found books to be boring and unrealistic. Most books written for boys and girls were either trying very hard to teach them important lessons, or were so far-fetched that nothing like that could ever possibly happen in real-life. She decided to change the system that she perceived as being dysfunctional. Ultimately, her honest and authentic depiction of childhood (input), resulted in a positive systematic change (output). Providing an appealing literary choice for young adults ultimately motivated children to read, and inspired many other authors to write literature for children.

Childtimes, Eloise Greenfield
Rationale: In many ways, Childtimes is a chronicle of the African-American family, and African-American women in particular, as seen through the eyes of three women. The narration and dialogue of the book reflect African-American culture from just after the Civil War almost to the eve of the Civil Rights movement. Through the examination of 3 consecutive generations within the same family system, we can clearly see how historical events, and social attitudes and norms of the time (input), impacted the relationships, decisions and perspectives (interactions) of the members. As a result (output), generations of African-Americans continue to learn and benefit from their cultural ancestors, and young readers come to learn about the daily prejudice and discrimination to which African Americans were routinely subjected during this period. The question of how and why systems change over time, and are often replaced by something new, is a powerful theme of systematic change.

How I Came to Be a Writer, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Rationale: Phyllis Naylor’s writing journey began when she was just a little girl, asking her parents to read aloud to her. Her father would act out voices as he read Huckleberry Finn, and her mother kept reading great books out loud well into her children’s teen years.  Naylor describes the journey of moving from writing short pieces to writing a whole novel — understanding that this transition is a struggle for many writers. She explains to the reader that at first she made the mistake of “trying to throw in everything but the kitchen sink,” which caught the attention of an astute editor, who asked her to revise it. She rewrote the whole book following the editor’s suggestions for improvement, and What the Gulls Were Singing became her first published novel in 1967. In How I Came to Be a Writer, Naylor illustrates the long and sometimes arduous process of writing a novel (system). She provides insights into how difficult the process can be (inputs, interactions), how failures and successes are handled (output),and why individuals keep trying even when rejection slips keep piling up (continuous cycle).

A Day of Pleasure, Isaac B. Singer
Rationale: A Day of Pleasure is not only about a series of incidents and adventures of a young boy growing up in Warsaw, Poland during the 1930’s, it is about growing up itself. In Singer’s memoir, one can sense the hopes, fears, aspirations, difficulties, disappointments, and encouragements that are all a part of the growing up process. It also examines the conflicts caused by a deeply religious upbringing-Singer’s father and maternal grandfather were both rabbis-and the conflict Isaac faces as he tries to strike balance in his life. Having a father who is a rabbi brings with it certain expectations, many of which are difficult to achieve in a secular world. This scenario serves as an effective example of how over time, human systems adapt, change in prominence, or are replaced.

The Invisible Thread, Uchiko Uchida
Rationale: The first part of the book relates events typical of Uchida’s background and how these events influenced the person she became. Each chapter is a collection of memories around a theme or event—what Sundays were like in the Japanese community, her parents’ history, family vacations, a visit to Japan. Any one of these events offer a glimpse into a system, it’s members (elements), their interactions (family and community), and what these systems are able to produce (outputs). The second part of the book describes Uchida’s struggle, within herself, to feel accepted and comfortable in both her ancestral and modern-day worlds. How these systems change over time, and in some cases, are replaced by others, is a common theme when examining immigration and assimilation into a new culture.

The Lost Garden, Laurence Yep
Rationale: The Last Garden, is an autobiography of a Chinese-American boy raised in a black neighborhood, a child too American to fit into Chinatown, and too Chinese to fit in anywhere else. This novel is a fitting together of Yep's own puzzle pieces of his life, sometimes even having to join or reinvent the pieces. Some of the most notable figures in this book are his hardworking parents, owners of a grocery store, and the drudgery and energy involved in successfully managing the store.

Boy, Roald Dahl
Rationale:  Dahl’s first autobiography describes the author’s life from birth until leaving school, focusing on living conditions in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s, the public school system at the time, and how his childhood experiences led him to writing as a career. The public school system in Britain during the early 1920’s is a fascinating study. Identifying the critical components of this system, responding to the question of whether or not this system was productive (and why), and the making a comparative analysis of Britain’s public school system and our own, will lead to a better understanding of systems and change.

Knots in My Yo-Yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid, Jerry Spinelli

Rationale: Throughout Spinelli’s reminiscing, he points out the influences that ultimately turned him into a writer (connect to system of writing). He also encourages kids to create stories by drawing on their own experiences. Comparisons of Spinelli’s system of writing and their own can be drawn.

My Wish for my Students