During the school year, students will be engaging in rigorous and exciting activities that will challenge their thinking as well as their understanding of the world around them. This will be no easy process and they will need to come prepared to engage, learn and challenge themselves.
Students will be asked to read from a wide variety of diverse sources and texts this year. From controversial to light-hearted, the texts will be used as starting points for discussion, creative writing and collaborative activities. Students and parents are always welcome and encouraged to suggest texts that we could tackle in class. We will be looking at novels, blogs, poems, newspaper articles, comics and advertisements (and many more, I’m sure!).
Each student will be issued a blog using the private blogging service, KidsBlog. This blog will be home for the majority of their writing tasks this year. It will also be home base for writing peer feedback. The writing that we will be doing this year will be both independent and collaborative. Collaborative writing tasks may be done using GoogleDocs and FirstClass as well as good ol’ pencil and paper. Students will have ample opportunities to explore their own writing preferences while challenging themselves to also write in different forms and for different audiences. Our focus will be on content and writing clarity rather than rote understandings of mechanics. Our priority will be to build lifelong literacy skills.
A strong focus will be on developing students’ speaking abilities. This will not be done by just writing and performing the standard 3-5 minute speech, but through dynamic speaking activities that include movie making, podcasting, drama and debate. Students will be challenged to express themselves in a variety of ways in lots of different contexts. I am going to ask them to show a little bit of courage at first, but it is my hope that all students will be comfortable speaking in front of small groups by the end of the year.
The media component of my program is a difficult beast to tame. We will be using a variety of reading, writing, oral/visual and dramatic materials to explore media in the world around us (i.e., YouTube, advertisements, blogs, radio, etc.). We will be keeping up-to-date with the news of the day, advertising campaigns and critically analyzing our role as a consumer in society.
Technology : We are entering an exciting time in education with technology presenting many wonderful opportunities for learning. We will be using as a tool for learning rather than relying on it mindlessly. I will be using technology to “flip” the classroom, with students doing a lot of reading, viewing, and listening BEFORE they come to class. I will be using my website, their school email address (FirstClass) and a Facebook-for-school-like program called Edmodo to post lots of content for the students to review. If you have difficulty with your at-home technology at any point this year, please let me know so I can make alternate arrangements with your child to have access to a computer.
Drama : Drama will be central to many of our learning experiences this year. We will be welcoming a couple of special guests during the months ahead who will lead us in some fun drama activities. Through the Write to Produce project, students will be able to develop their acting chops through the development of their own short movie.