As the MEAP concluded and we got things back to normal, we also wrapped up our unit on vignette writing and The House on Mango Street. We’ve already started our next unit of study, historical fiction, led by Laura, our student teacher. Students are in book groups with novels about the Revolutionary War, and they are having daily discussions about their reading and the genre. They are also starting the planning process of writing historical fiction, based on a historical event of their choosing. Thanks again to all of the families who offered to purchase their child’s book for this unit. It was a great help in saving the school money!
Middle schoolers have been busy writing vignettes in classroom M3. While reading the novel, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, students are examining what makes Esperanza who she is while also taking a close look at who they are. We’ve had some really great discussions, and I am looking forward to seeing our own collections of vignettes come to life. It’s been a great start to the school year.
Middle School Language Arts
As we wrap up the year in middle school Language Arts, we will be experimenting with poetry in different forms. The first week of June brings a middle school-wide poetry slam, and then, while the 8th graders are away at camp, the 6th and 7th graders will be experimenting with poetry and visual arts. Truly exciting stuff.
As you know, summer lag can be a major issue for readers of all abilities. Don’t let your child lose the progress they made in reading during the school year over the summer. It takes the average reader 4-6 weeks to regain the skills they lost through “the summer slide.” The good news is that ANY reading counts toward keeping those reading skills fresh. Encourage your child to share books with friends, or enroll in your local library’s summer reading programs. Let them choose books, even if they seem like “beach reads.” Even adults need those now and then. Are you looking for ways to get your kid to write over the summer? Check out the summer program that Johnny and I are running, “Creative Explosion.” It is open to grades 5-9, and kids from other schools are welcome, too! Ask Johnny or me for details.
April was Poetry Month, right? And we kicked it off properly with studying both classic and contemporary poems, and even worked to imitate some of the masters. What’s coming up? Come to the cafeteria during curriculum celebration to see student productions of Romeo and Juliet (condensed), and look for a link in your email in late May to purchase your own copy of the middle school poetry anthology. Spring is in the air, indeed!
As we head in to April, we are wrapping up the reading of “Romeo and Juliet” and and are moving on to projects and performances. Each student is working on their own independent project demonstrating their knowledge of Shakespeare and his famous play, and each class is re-writing the script to make their own condensed version. These will be performed at curriculum celebration, so stay tuned.
Now, we are slowly moving in to our study of poetry. We will examine a variety of poets and their work, mainly free verse poetry. Students will work to imitate the styles of others as they develop their own poetic voice. Poetry is exciting for some, but daunting for others. I hope that everyone can reach a new level of confidence through this unit of study.
As we return from winter break, we are starting the most highly anticipated unit of the school year, the study of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” We have just started reading the play during class, and students have the option to read the graphic novel at home. We will engage in partner reading journals, in class acting, movie watching, and all kinds of other exciting things. Stay tuned to learn more about our performances at curriculum celebration this May! Also, ask your middle schooler what house they belong to! (Sword fights and thumb biting are highly discouraged!)
In middle school Language Arts, we wrapped up literary essay writing just before curriculum celebration and started working on persuasive essays. Students learned how to use the MeL databases to find articles to support their point, and they are working on different outlining techniques to organize the information that they found. Watch out… they may start to argue well… and with supporting information.
This work will lead us up to Mid Winter Break, and we will start reading Romeo and Juliet when we return in March!
In middle school Language Arts, we have just finished up reading fantasy novels and writing literary analysis (for the first time ever). This was a challenging task for some as it involved coming up with a critical claim in regards to plot or character, or even a critique of the novel they read. It has been an interesting process, watching students formulate essays on literature, one I hope we can do again. As we move in to the second semester, students will continue essay writing, except this time on a problem or issue they see in the world, in the nation, in their community, or just their own personal lives. They will do independent research and develop persuasive essays. Watch out as middle schoolers stretch their arguing muscles!
As we moved in to Thanksgiving break, we capped off our short story unit, and started reading fantasy fiction. Students are arranged in book groups and have chosen to read one of five titles, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis, Skellig by David Almond, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Gifts by Ursula LeGuin, or Puddlejumpers by Mark Jean and Christopher Carlson. Each class period they meet to discuss the previous night’s reading. In addition, we are working on developing literary theories that will culminate in literary essays!
We have been continuing our study of short fiction in middle school language arts. We have read classics such as “The Necklace,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and “The Tell Tale Heart.” On November 9th, we went to see a theatre group perform these short stories, bringing our readings to life! In the writing department, students have been trying their hands at creating fiction. It has been interesting watching them craft characters, and putting these new people through different conflicts. Their problems are becoming sophisticated, and they are really growing as writers. As winter approaches, we will attempt to escape reality by studying the genre of fantasy fiction! Hopefully these fantastic images will keep us warm as the weather turns cold.