Students in Ms. Sykes’ class continue to work with the William & Mary unit Persuasion. They are currently involved in their third novel study of the year, this one focusing on Hispanic American literature. As they have read these novels from different cultures, they have traced the thread of change that ties them together. In addition, students have taken a close look at the Declaration of Independence using a critical thinking model called Paul’s Wheel of Reasoning. This tool guides students through an identification and consideration of the various points of view, assumptions, inferences, purposes, etc. of the various stakeholders affected by a given issue. This analysis occurred during the uprising in Egypt, and it was interesting to point out the similarities to pre-revolution America.
Ms. Sykes’ class has also written and presented persuasive how-to speeches (they’re becoming impressive public speakers!) in which students tried to make their audience see that their method of doing something was the best approach. To further their skills, they participated in a debate about President Obama’s proposal to lengthen the time U.S. students spend in school.
The children are now preparing for their final Word Masters meet of the year and have just finished a shared inquiry discussion of the Junior Great Books story “Lucky Boy” by Philippa Pearce. Following spring break, Ms. Sykes’ students will work on a poetry task and they’ll wrap up the Persuasion unit by taking a look at some more Asian American literature.
Students in Ms. Swager’s class have been working on a unit created by Ms. Cabotaje that addresses the social-emotional aspect of being gifted and the factors leading to success in eminent people. They began the unit by completing a TABA in which they sorted, categorized and described 50 bits of information either illustrating the characteristics, challenges and positive aspects of being identified gifted or the elements that lead to success for students and adults. Each group of students then used the generalizations they wrote for their TABA categories (many successful people experience multiple failures before they accomplish a goal; many gifted people face various unique challenges) as a reading guide for at least three biographies that they read.
During this time, students were keeping a metacognition log in which they monitored how their thinking worked at various times of the day and during various tasks. These logs provided information for the metacognition metaphors that they just created. Socratic seminars on stress—a topic most students expressed concern about–and other relevant issues have also been held.
This week, students are reading the short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and will then watch a video version of the story. This piece addresses the question “Does the pursuit of equality mean everyone should be the same?” and invites the audience to consider when risk-taking is necessary. Following spring break, students will synthesize all of this information to complete a task that will involve the creation of a product that helps others understand the information they’ve been studying.