Sixth grade Language Arts classes are doing a Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Literary Café to enhance their reading of the novel by Mildred D. Taylor. The Literary Café is designed so students can dig deeper into some of the issues and themes in the novel in order to gain a better understanding of the context of the times. The topics chosen are boycotts; segregation and Jim Crow laws; and sharecropping.
Students work independently and collaboratively. They watch video clips, read informational text, play a sharecropper simulation game, create a line graph on sharecropping, and use Canva to create posters and photo collages.
From Lenin’s Propaganda to Rasputin’s Beard: 7th Graders Study the Russian Revolution
Earlier this year, 7th grade students from all tracks participated in a 3-day unit on the Russian Revolution with the Library Media Center, culminating in a creative writing product. This unit was built around the eWISE research model where students are guided through a process that allows them to Wonder, Investigate, Synthesize, and Express. The essential question framing the unit was: “How did the Russian Revolution affect its nation’s different citizens?”
Specifically, for this unit, students began by viewing historical photographs of Russian citizens—from the Romanovs and peasants to Bolsheviks and Lenin—and were asked to ‘wonder’ about their lives, based on evidence in the photographs and their own prior knowledge. Students then chose a person to ‘investigate’ or research. Choice was a key element of this entire unit and students were free to pick anyone living in Russia at the time. It could be a specific person—such as Anastasia Romanov or Lenin—or a group of people, such as Bolshevik soldiers. Using sweetsearch.com—a search engine specifically developed for students—they compiled information on their chosen research subject. Classes then ‘synthesized’ what they learned by organizing their facts and participating in small group discussions. To prepare for the final stage—‘express’, students looked at examples of historical diary entries and even learned some simple Russian words and phrases.
To express what they had learned about their chosen subject and the Russian Revolution as a whole, students then wrote a diary entry from the point of view of their chosen person. Students were encouraged to truly imagine what it was like to live at that time and place in history. The completed diary entries were fantastic—they showcased students’ skill with personal narratives, their creative writing talents, learned knowledge of the Russian Revolution, and even their interest in writing Cyrillic words!
~Julie Stivers, UNC Library School graduate student intern
8th grade track 1 students have been working on a year-long family history project, which culminated in their final project presentations on Friday, March 6th. After students interviewed the 'kin keeper' of their family, they used their family stories and ancestral information as a springboard to guiding their own research experience. Some students focused on the cultural background of their ancestors, while others 'climbed their trees' by tracing back a specific branch of their ancestry. Ancestry.com, newspapers.com, and fold3.com were popular research sources, but many students also discovered culturally-specific sites that helped them uncover more about their roots. A few of our students' research focus questions included:
Students used a variety of web 2.0 tools to present their findings to their classmates. Students were encouraged to use a tool they were unfamiliar with so they could add a new tool to their technology toolbelt. In their selection process, students determined which type of tool would be best to present their information. A timeline? A slide show? An online poster? They then selected a tool based on their answers to those questions. Canva, TikiToki, BiteSlide, Timeglider, smore, Zoho show, Animoto, and VoiceThread were just some of the tools students selected from! This family history project showcases inquiry learning at it's finest, where students are in charge of the entire research process, from focus-question creation through their research journey, and finally creating their final product to share with others.
Students will come to the Scholastic Book Fair with their Language Arts class all this week. Students may also come before school starts from 7:45 to 8:10 and after school until 3:15. Stop by the media center and find some amazing books to buy!
All proceeds will support your Durant Media Center.
Last week we wrapped up our week long emphasis on coding. This wasn't just something that wasn't just taking place at Durant, but all throughout the globe. In fact, over 80, 000,000 students from over 180 countries participated in this event. Which begs the question: Why learn how to code?
We kicked off the week with a coding lunch, where over 90 students stopped by to learn how to develop their own apps, games, and websites. Based on request, this will now become a monthly occurrence. The next meeting will take place on Friday, January 30.
Later that week, employees of SAS stopped by the classes of Ms. Haase and Mr. Marion to teach students of the benefits of coding. After a brief introduction, the kids got involved with a hands-on simulation on how coding works.
Although the week of code is technically behind us, this is an area that we will continue to focus on at Durant Road. In addition to the monthly coding lunches, a website has been created to provide students with resources on coding. We'd also recommend you check out some of the lessons and activities at code.org and Codecademy. Code on!
In continuing the family history dialog with 8th grade students, Mrs. Richardson and Ms. Ziller shared their personal genealogy interest and stories about their ancestors in a presentation to students in the auditorium on track-out day. Mrs. Richardson shared details about her great-grandfather, who was president of Georgia Tech University, and his role in allowing women and minorities to attend the university. She shared the history of her Van Leer lineage and how her ancestry has been traced back to the 1400s!
Ms. Ziller shared details of her #ancestryaugust where she spent a month focused on her great-grandfather's life. He left the Tyrol region of Italy, immigrated through Ellis Island in 1913, and settled in the mountains of Pennsylvania to mine coal. By 1940 he owned his own home. He successfully pursued the American Dream!
Both Mrs. Richardson and Ms. Ziller shared details of American history and social issues that were occurring during their ancestor's experiences. These are the types of connections students will be making when they begin researching in early 2015. The upcoming holidays will provide many more opportunities for students to connect with their families and share stories with one another.