Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rumpopo's Porch

Kenan, Jubi, Jeanne, Josh and Danielle were avid readers and contributors to our book group selection Replay by Sharon Creech. Leo, the main character, is a boy who dreams of acting and dancing on Broadway. His big family of very verbal siblings discount his quest and see him as a dreamer. This funny and often poignant story allows each member of the family to learn to appreciate dreams that are apparent and are also hidden.
Sharon Creech included a play Rompopo's Porch by Bill Beeber for readers. She writes, "If you want to read or perform the play..."
This invitation was taken up eagerly by the members of this bookgroup. Rehearsal time occurred not only during scheduled book group times but also during recess. All of our cast members played two if not three roles and identified a particular role by either a change in voice or by using a costume addition such as a shawl.
Fifth grade audience members and teachers appreciated this performance and laughed at all the right moments. This endeavor proved to be a successful, fun and creative experience for all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Scenes from The PInballs

Alyssa, Gabby, Claire, Jamie, Maria and Kiryna wrote scenes based on the book, The Pinballs by Betsy Byars. Each scriptwriter also cast, directed and introduced their scene. The plays were performed as reader's theater with script in hand for the fifth grade.
Carlie, Thomas J and Harvey are three children who have found themselves in foster care living with a kind woman named Mrs. Mason. Carlie, has lived in a few different foster homes and is cynical about this new home. Mrs. Mason knows in her heart that Carlie is a strong young woman who can help the two younger boys. Carlie's reply to Mrs. Mason spoke to our hearts and had us hoping that Carlie would find a different experience in this new foster home. "No, you listen. Harvey and me and Thomas J are just like pinballs. Somebody put in a dime and punched a button and out we came, ready or not, and settled in the same groove. That's all." She looked at Mrs. Mason. "Now you don't see pinballs helping each other, do you?"
The scenes written by our fifth grade writers focus in on pivotal moments in this story when the characters realized the strength they have whether it is the ability to show kindness and tenderness or grit in facing their challenges and forging strong connections and bonds with each other. Our audience of fifth grader students were moved by the portrayals of this story.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Delving Deep-Second Grade Reads Biographies

Second grade students gazed with anticipation at an array of books on the floor. Their task was to pick a book and preview the book looking for the features of the book that helped to convey information and to try and determine what kind of books were gathered. They each picked an interesting feature or aspect of their book and then met with a partner to share. Returning to the circle and sharing their findings led to an understanding that all of these books were biographies. Many of the books had features such as time lines, pictures with captions and a glossary that helped convey information to the reader. It was noted by many that most of the biographies started with a person's childhood and then later told about the contributions of that person to their community, field of study or the world. Benjamin Franklin by Victoria Sherrow will be read aloud to the children. This book was previewed today and the children shared background knowledge that they thought they knew about Benjamin Franklin. One child knew that he did something with a kite and a key, another child thought that he had traveled to other countries. We confirmed that we would be reading about both of these events and then clarified a few misconceptions such as although he contributed greatly to the government he was not a president. This book was chosen as the first book to be read to the children because Benjamin Franklin contributed in so many ways to the community, as an inventor, a statesman, and as a great communicator. In book groups we will start off reading three different books about Helen Keller. We will be exploring not only the ways Helen contributed to the world and became a crusader for the blind and the deaf but the aspects of her personality that enabled her to do achieve her goals and help not only herself but many others in the area of communication. Throughout this unit of study, students will be selecting biographies to read and write about. Many of the books shared today in circle and with partners have already been eagerly selected for individual reading. Delving deep into this study of biographies, is a powerful way to return from winter break.