Wednesday, November 26, 2014

First Round of Book Talks a Success

Thanks to Alice Ozma's inspiration, I incorporated a book talk club into my reading workshop.  The first round just ended and the students filmed and edited their talks using the local t.v. station's equipment. 

Four students participated this first round. The books they chose were Mrs. Dole is Out of Control by Dan Gutman; Unsinkable: the Titanic Part 1 by Gordon Korman; Travel Team by Mike Lupica; and I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic by Lauren Tarshis.

I gave the students two weeks to read a book of their choice. Then they wrote their book talks and shared them with the club members. Great advice and compliments were given and the quality of the book talks improved drastically. More drafts were written until they were happy with their talk. 

Memorizing and rehearsing was the next step. Last, filming and then editing.

Here are the finished book talks:

We were thrilled to see that Dan Gutman watched our book talks and loved the third talk about his book. :-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More SDL Success

My students are really beginning to appreciate the blog and its power. It started with a class from England joining our blog roll. This was a connection I made through Twitter. My students went to their site and looked at their blog roll. There was a buzz in the room when they saw classes from New Zealand and China among others. Two students ran over to me to share what they had found and I told them to share it with the class. We got the students' attention and the two students excitedly explained what they found and how they found it. The class was hooting and very enthusiastic about truly going global with the blogs. 

Some cool SDL developments this week:

One student shared this awesome video that is an example of the stop motion animation he is working on.

Another student visited our local t.v. station to try out the green screen and work on his project.

A student studying sharks found something that breaks his heart, the killing of sharks for their fins. Here is his website that he recently created about this problem.

We also have an email with five student-created questions sent to a very famous magician who may be answering soon. Thank you to my friend who knows this very famous magician!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Passions Ignited!

The self directed learning projects seem to be making a difference in how my class views their world. It is fun to watch them get inspired from everything around them. 

We had a class get together after school at a place that has an amazing waterworks show. As the kids watched it in amazement, one student said to me, "Mrs. Milner, this would be a cool topic for an SDL project." 

Earlier in October, we went to an overnight at Camp Bourndale in Plymouth, MA and there were many topics there that students came back inspired to pursue. Click the link to Kevin's blog about magic. He was psyched to start this new topic after seeing an incredible magic show at Camp Bournedale. 

In this post, Will shares what has inspired him and what he plans to do about it.


Many students have stayed with their same topic so far, but it has inspired them to find creative ways to present their topic. One student studied different kinds of codes and his research about the Codetalkers sparked his imagination, so he is writing a fantasy story that will incorporate what he has learned about codes. Click to see his post about his characters.


Another student worked on taking apart an older computer and learning the parts. He then had new questions about how it was different from a newer computer or an IPhone. In wanting to present his findings, he also is learning quite a bit about editing with IMovie. Click to see his posts and the course his project has taken, wholly directed by him.


Some students have enjoyed their topic, but have had trouble getting going with their blogs. A few did not fully grasp the purpose of the blog. After I shared other students' blogs, created a blogging rubric, and wrote a second post about all the different topics they could write about, these students came to understand the purpose of blogging. Click to see my post:

Students are more motivated to do this important piece of self directed learning: reflection. Here are a few examples of students showing growth in their blogs. By growth, I mean not just length of post, but level of reflection and sharing their process.



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Navigating NaNoWriMo in Fifth Grade

This year, I have three classes for writing and wanted to find a way to make National Novel Writing Month manageable, challenging, and fun for my students. They will write a novel in November, and they have to put their inner editors away in order to produce a lot of writing in a short time. In December, the inner editors will come back out, and they will revise and edit portions of their novels. We just finished a narrative writing unit focusing on personal narratives. NaNoWriMo is a great chance to explore a different type of narrative writing. 

My writing classes are four times a week for 45 minutes each. One day a week will be devoted to writing their novels. The students can use laptops or write in their journals. 

We set word count goals based on how much they could write or type in ten minutes. Students figured out a weekly amount and then multiplied it to find the monthly goal. I already have students reporting that they surpassed their original word count goals for the week.
They are excited and self motivated!

We will be delving into plots and subplots, author style, character developments, flashbacks and more.

In future posts, I will share some of their story ideas and/or excerpts from their stories. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Improving Students' Blogposts

Please follow the link below to my post focused on what students could possibly blog about:

Please follow the link below to see a fantastic post that was written by a student after my Friday blogging discussion about the quality of their posts.

Students are sharing pictures and videos on their blogs, now that they know how. I am impressed with the choices they make for media. They post pictures and video directly related to their work. Here are some examples: