After reading three multicultural novels with Ms. Sykes that were all set in America from the 1920s through the1930s (Journey to Topaz; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry or Bud, Not Buddy; Esperanza Rising), students were given a task that required they tie several elements together: World War II, The Great Depression, The Harlem Renaissance, Black Southerners, Mexican Migrant Workers and Change, as applicable. Students were given training in several technology formats (Frames, Share and PowerPoint) and chose one to convey their understanding of the novels, their historical context and their connection to change. The results were impressive and many students demonstrated great research skills, technological proficiency and sophisticated understanding. Here is just one sample to give you an idea of the work students did:
In addition to this substantial research project that involved collaboration between Ms. Sykes, Ms. Cabotaje, Mr. Johnson (our computer resource teacher) and Ms. Troia (our library media science teacher), students continued with the Word Masters competition (see the final results in an earlier post here), reasoned through issues and read and discussed Junior Great Books selections. They finished up the year by working in interest groups to closely examine a variety of current issues from the impact of technology on intelligence to the dangerous reduction of oxygen for fish in the oceans. To look at the issues from multiple perspectives, they used Paul’s Reasoning Wheel, a structure that helps students consider the point of view, assumptions and evidence for beliefs of many different stakeholders.
With Ms. Swager, the students completed their bridge lessons and competed in an inter-city tournament (see an earlier post here). They also worked with a social-emotional unit that included reading a Junior Great Books selection about introverts and extraverts, creating metacognition metaphors, engaging in Socratic discussions about stress, reading and taking notes from the biographies of several eminent adults, and creating biopoems that outlined the unique strengths and challenges of these gifted individuals.