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Building Ideas on Our Reading

We are gearing up for our Literary Essays.

Students are learning to push their thinking on a variety of texts.

Here are some questions they are using to prompt them to think deeper about what they read:

What single section—or which two related sections—best capture(s) the story’s meaning?

Is there one object or one moment from the story that symbolizes the whole message of this story? How does this object or moment convey the overall meaning?

What does the character learn in this story?   Is this a life lesson that readers are also meant to learn?

What life lesson can I draw from this story? How does this story teach me a lesson that can help me live my life differently?

How might all the elements of this story contribute to the message of the story?

How might these elements contribute to the meaning:

The beginning?

The setting?

The way the character changes?

The story arc?

The end?

Global Citizen Survey

Please click on this link and complete the survey.


Students have been working hard on their Sustainability project.

As time is scarce, there is simply not enough time to do everything.

This is a beautifully crafted video…please enjoy this at home with your family:


Keith Baker – Author, Illustrator Extraordinaire

We had the pleasure of spending some time with Keith Baker.

Here is a video of him sharing his book:  The Magic Fan

Public Service Announcements

Students have been working hard on their Social Studies projects.  We have been exploring Sustainability Issues and are working at creating Public Service Announcements as a culminating project. We have completed research, action projects and are now in the midst of creating our iMovies for our PSA.

Here is a list of Creative Commons music that students will be choosing from for their work:


Point of No Return:

The Dark Symphony:

Lost Words:

Time to Chill

Indian Spirit

Celtic Dream

Ethereal Landscapes


Walking in Paradise

Please stay tuned for some important Public Service Announcements created by Room 231!

Book Club Reflections

All book clubs have reviewed their performances in their own book clubs.

Here are the links to the videos:






Students will use their reflections to set goals for themselves and for their book clubs.

Jack Gantos @ ISB

Yesterday we had the pleasure of spending some time with author Jack Gantos! He shared some hilarious stories and the importance of mining our lives for the rich and interesting stories they hold. We learned that stories are built around content (our life experiences) and structure. Gantos teaches us that writers record their lives in little notebooks. These entries become seeds for stories that others can come to read and love. He outlines the elements of story as follows:

1. Characters

2. Setting

3. Problem/Situation

4. Action/Plot

5. Crisis

6. Resolution/Solve Problem

7. Physical AND Emotional Ending

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 6.15.15 AM

It is through revision after revision that stories are made “good, better, BEST!”  He also encourages students to write 10 minutes a day.  This will help with fluency as well as creating that bank of seeds from which our best stories can grow.


Write On! Jack Gantos and thank you!

Poetry Writing Celebration

We completed our Poetry Writing unit with a celebration of our work as Poets.  Students published a poetry anthology based on a chosen theme.  Each student tried to include a variety of poetic devices and learned to bring meaning to their poems through structure and voice.


We had a lot of fun sharing our poems and listening to everyone’s work.

Check out our poets:

Emily M:




Emily B:


Ju Young:















Book Clubs on Social Issues

We have been studying social issues in our classroom.  We are nearing the end of our first exploration into book clubs.   Students have been placed in book clubs in order to explore books and themes together.  In the book clubs, students have learned to communicate and share their thinking while going deeper with their understanding of what was read.

Students are also learning to reflect on their use of strategies and success as book club members.

Here is a checklist we are using in class to reflect on our work together:

Thinking Expectations

Identify and name a social issue. Talk about why this important to the story.
Empathize with a character by putting yourself in his or her shoes.
Think about whether the character faces the social issue because of who he/she is or because of the group he/she belongs to.
Think about the social issue from different perspectives.
Identify internal or external character development. Why has the author done this?
Identify who has the power and how is this power used. Why does this character choose to use his/her power in this way?

Identify other characters’ responses (thoughts, feelings, actions) to the use of power?
Identify the author’s message.  Do you agree or disagree with the author?  Why?
Support ideas using evidence from the text.
Process / Skill Expectations

Comes to book club prepared and with all materials.

Participates in discussions respectfully and uses attentive listening.

Participates in discussions respectfully by sharing ideas and using equitable talk time.

Participates in discussions respectfully byresponding to someone else’s idea.
Balances the talk time by asking questions for other members to share their thinking.

Facilitates discussion by going back and rereading a section of the text together.

Yesterday, we used a Fishbowl activity to learn how one group dives deeper with their understanding through their book club.  We learned a lot from watching this group.

[youtube] [/youtube]

Today, the other groups will get a chance to record their book club discussions and reflect on the success they have achieved.  We will also set some goals in order to improve the work we do with our book club members.


Geometry is fun, but it can be challenging with all the language and funny names of polygons.

Check out these links for some extra help:




Don’t forget you can use Logopaths at home through Pearson.

You might find these links for Area and Perimeter fun too:

Funbrain with Polygons

Perimeter and Area

Shape Explorer