This is the page for Jenn to post her reflections...

AHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Curriculum, planning, common assessments, and making this work...because I want it to and it can....

I feel like the outcast. I've just mastered flying in second life. My students think "Frost" is short for the snowman. BEST LAUGH OF MY DAY!! BJ!EST LAUGH OF MY DAY!!! BJ
I'd like to play with the idea of using a poem with my students, as the folktales that I had planned on using with them was pushed off due to too many meetings and substitutes in class with them.

ANyhooo...Every year we study Africa and how those darn Europeans came in and colonized the indigenous African people. As we climb into modern day Africa, we look at Maya Angelou's poem, I know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The theme is: Independence brings hope as well as problems... In terms of our Social Studies's Afica wants to gain their independence from their colonial rulers, but how do they build a nation that was never their own...what are they actualy reclaiming? We listen to Alicia Keys song "caged Bird". We discuss. We think. We draw. and this time....We digitell!

This week my students will explore African tribal life and this poem.
I love ya, Fruhling, and can't wait to see what you come up with! :-)-- LM
I LOVE the poem you have chosen - so much to soak into and perfect for your unit! You go girl!!! BJ

1:23 A.M.

Who says teachers don't work weekends? nights? holidays? while my easter turkey is not cooking 12 lbs in 4hrs....(is it because I'm technically Jewish?), I'm blogging...or wiki-ing

After a great talk with BJ, who calmed my fears, after Peggy, (YES you) scared the bajeezus out of me. She walked into my room on Monday morning, Frost poem in hand, and said, Bernajean is coming next week...we have to get started. So I did what any teacher would do..I ignored her and read the caged bird poem fro Maya Angelou. I felt like I still needed SOME control of my life! I LOVE MY TEACHERS! PS

My lesson:
Theme: Independence brings hope as well as problems
All teachers leave the classroom. We tell the students we'll be back in a few minutes, just don't worry. Teachers hide in adjecent classroom, listen to the students, and secretly wish that we really could just leave.

When we get back the students tell us honestly (gotta love 6th graders) what happened while the teachers were gone, and how they felt. According to my students, there was talking, one girl, Sami, tried to get everyone to just read, at which point 2-3 other students tricked her into going into the hallway, while another studnet held the door shut. They did eventually let her back in. Others just talked to their friends, 2 read, 3-5 just sat there, a few went into the hallway to get drink, and to "look" for me.

We discuss that excited, hopeful feeling that came over them when I left the room. Thoughts of no work, no homework, no bossy tecahers didn't seem bad at all. In fact it was awesome!

Ahhh...Independence brings hope, as well as problems, Poor Sami in the hallway....

So we read the maya Angelou poem, or rather I read, they put their heads down and visualized. They picked their heads up, opened their notebooks, and either drew or wrote whatever came to mind as I read the poem again. Talk about concrete; as I walked around the was...sidewalk....pavement..literally... Angelou's bird..splat on the pavement. Alas, I love my students simply because they are so honest.

They do however, quickly see the connection (when i point it out), between the poem and the situation they were put into when I left the room.

And they feel extra caged when I don't let them leave EXACTLY when the bell rings...(insert evil laughter here)

We spent a few days on the AFrica curriculum, exploring a BBC for kids website all about children in AFrica, watching Oprah's special on her school in Africa, and some of Sum41's rockumentay on the Democratic Republic of Congo. The social studies teacher in me wants them to see the connection between the theme and people's lives in AFrica.

After each day that we stud Africa's modern issues, we have a write around, where the students respond in their jounals, and then pass their journal to the next student who then writes a response based on the same prompt. the prompts were, what is freedom, and is freedon a right or a privilage?

The begin to think/brainstorm about a time in their own life when they felt free, feel free, or feel like nothing can stop them...

I tell them about BJ's visit next week, and how BJ is so cool because she wants them to Digitell about their own life, and not about Social studies, like I want. I tell them that BJ is they will find their parallell story about freedom. They were informed that they could think about this idea over the weekend..or not...and change it...or not....

I can't wait to start!

This past week was almost indescribable. I think it was so hard for me to write about what happened each day with Bernajean becasue i was constantly wrapped up in my head with happened. Its hard to make sense of it...It was like I was still the library with my students...processing everything that happened. Working with my studnets and bernajean this week refueled my passion for teaching...I had been stuck in the "curriculum" head. I forgot what it was like to teach. That it could be exciting...and not monotnous.

On Tuesday, you could begin to feel the electricity of our week to come as we headed to library to meet Bernajean. First we shared our own storiesabout times in our life when we felt free. Some ideas that came out were, playing sports, being home alone, going to the middle school, and being on summer vacation vs. being in school. My students were on their best behavior, and it took a lot of genle nudging to get them to share with all of these adult eyes on them. They definately felt like specimins...I could tell it was going to take something awesome to pull them out of their shells.

As they watched examples of digital storytelling, they used the ideas of "decorating" (when the pictures in a digital story are randomly there), "illustrating" (when the pictures match the words in the story), and "illuminating" (when the pictures give the story a deeper meaning), to rate the effectiveness f the pctures in the stories. They were starting to unerstand that their stories would have to be much more than the imovies they were used to...these would be products of a higher caliber! They also started to learn about ambient sounds...and effectively placing just the right sounds in just the right places.

Julie gave me a quick briefing on the student jobs, and my kids selected the job they felt most comforatbel with. The choices were:
"director"-who would be in charge of making sure the whole piece has fluidity, and that everything that needs to get done gets done.
"narrator"- someone who has a knack for peforming...responsible for bringing the narration to a level beyond reciting and to preforming
"image collector"- selecting the best and most appropriate images to help illuminate the story
"sound collector"-in charge of any music production, as well as ambient sounds

Next time I owuld have a role card and a meeting with each of these groups so they would understand if they were choosing the role that was good for them

I was surprised by how many students felt like they could be effective directors, and how few kids wanted to be the voiceover person. Sami is well known in class for being vocal and quite when she didnt select to be the narrator it took a bit inside me to hold back from steering her...this was and is their work...not mine! And I couldnt believe that I had three kids who couldn't decide! Alas...I put my kids iinto groups, based on their choices and my understandingof who works well with whom.

They worked together to try and come up with their story of freedom before filling in the storyboard.

I loved how BJ started and ended each of sessions with a digital storyteling example. This really helped our kids stay focused

Wednesday was all about their story. They needed a lesson learned and bigining, middle, and end. They were psyched about filling in their storyboards and geting to their stories. Two groups stressed me out. One group has the energy of a soggy cornflake; Ron, Kelvin, and Brett agreed that story would be about sports, but couldn't come to a consensus about a lesson learned. It was kinda boring to work with hthem because they had so little energy...and I couldnt figure out how to rope them in.

The other group; Sasha, connor,

TBC...I'm falling aseep....