Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Finesse - Celebrate

Today is all about finesse.

We'll spend part of the day finessing our poetry books, both online and off, to make sure the graphics, organization and style match the projects' care, thought and time.  We'll talk about the role of title pages, covers and organization when it comes to making an entertaining, enticing presentation.

We'll also clean the desks and room as we turn the classroom into a Poetry Cafe. We'll carefully display students' homemade poetry books and some of our favorite poetry books by wonderful authors.

We'll put the finishing touches on posters, cover the cafe tables (desk groups) with colorful table cloths and paper lanterns, and end the day with play after all that hard work.

It takes a lot of vigorous coaching to inspire 25 fourth graders to go the extra mile with regard to finesse and the finishing touches before a celebration, but the learning is worth it as they'll have many presentations and celebrations to come in their personal, academic and professional lives. Tomorrow's the big day!

Celebration Introduction
The poet, Robert Penn Warren, questioned, “How do poems grow?,” and then answered his own question with, “They grow out of your life.”  The Self Portrait Poetry Anthology unit gave students an opportunity to write poems about their lives and find poems that “speak to them,” and remind them of the thoughts, experiences and people in their lives.

When looking at the final projects, one might think, “This is easy.  Where’s the learning?” But, like any wonderful piece of art or learning, the final project should look easy and fluid, and should not show the labor and effort that went into the work.

Many teachers and administrators helped us with this project.  The administrators, James Lee, Karyn Saxon, the ELA Curriculum Director, Leisha Simon, Tech Director, Brad Crozier and Paul Stein ensure that we have state-of-the-art tools, the support of teaching assistants and the creative freedom to embed new ideas and student voice in our curriculum.  The many specialists, assistants and teachers that work with the class including Elizabeth Bryant, Beth Crozier, Rita Partridge, Mary Davis, Mike Dunlea and Celeste Larson helped students and me with all the project details. No worthy educational project is ever done in isolation.  So let’s give a hand for all that support.

While students persevered throughout this unit, they developed strength in many, many standards set forth by the State of Massachusetts and the new Common Core Standards.  Those many standards included the following:

  • The study of the poetry genre.
  • Identifying and utilizing writer’s craft.
  • Responding to text in writing and using direct evidence from the text.
  • Making connections to text.
  • Reading, writing and speaking fluency, expression and precision.
  • Crafting multimedia compositions, movies, by synthesizing voice, image and music to convey a message.
  • Creating websites to host their project work.
  • Strengthening metacognitive awareness, a know-thyself as a learner mindset that sets the stage for success.
I am very, very proud of the students’ tenacity, ownership, investment, effort and care--their projects are wonderful!  These projects, online, in the movies and in the paper books, reflect hours of stick-to-itness, diligent work and creativity which you will soon see as we watch the Poetry Playlist Premiere.  Congratulations 4th graders!

Post Event Reflections
All students had one family member or more attend the event. There was a sense of joy and pride in the room. Many administrators and teachers showed up to cheer us on too. It was a wonderful event for all. I'm so thankful for my online and offline PLN support as well as the children's effort, care and creativity.