Friday, March 16, 2012

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate- The Performance

In book group, Devon, Jazzmin, Skye, Celine, Ben, LIbby and Jack read, discussed and wrote about The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, a Newbery award winning book by Jacqueline Kelly. This book is set in Texas in 1899 at the turn of the century. Students explored the big ideas of gender identity, the struggle to fit in, and the effect of scientific discoveries on philosophical views of life. After finishing the book, we decided that each student would write a script depicting an important scene in the book. Each author would direct and cast their own scene. The students play a variety of roles in each other's scenes with an item, such as a hat, bandanna, skirt or shawl depicting a certain character. Students have worked hard in a short period of time to write, revise and edit their scenes and then to direct their scene. It has been very satisfying to see the directors helping their actors to fully show the intent of the character in a particular scene. The play was performed on Monday morning March 19 at 8:30 in the music room. The fifth grade along with their second grade partners and Anne Field's sixth grade math class attended the play. The audience was attentive and involved and the cast and directors were wonderful!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's almost spring

It was so gorgeous today that the children asked if they could have silent reading outside. We said, "Of course!" The best part -- they really did read.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Extended Day Recycled Art Project, Part One

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd, and we are getting excited!

One of the ways that our Extended Day community is celebrating this wonderful holiday is by submitting an entry for a recycled art show. BUT the show is not at AFS. Our project is going to be shown at Whole Foods Market in Jenkintown! Whole Foods has made this show an annual event, and we were delighted to find out that we could participate in such an exciting event.
First through Fourth graders in Extended Day began this project on Thursday by taking a trip to the dumpster that sits outside AFS theater. They didn't talk about why they were sorting through these discarded items, they simply started to observe things that stood out and caught their interest. This dumpster is a gold mine of materials that we will be able to use for this project because the theater is working hard on creating sets and props for both the Middle and Upper School plays.
On Friday, friends came together as a whole group (Pre-K through Fifth grade) and were presented with the idea of of the Whole Foods Recycled Art Show. After we all agreed that we wanted to participate, we dove right into coming up with ideas on what our project could turn out to be. Some ideas that came out of our conversation included creating a puffer fish, a robot, creating the word "hope", an underwater ocean scene, a giant elephant, and Dr. Seuss inspired creations (especially since Friday was the good Doctor's birthday) such the Cat in the Hat, the Cat in the Hat Robot, the Cat in the Hat's Hat with various things out of the brim, and more.
We furthered our discussion and planning today by pulling out the materials that the students chose from the theater dumpster on Thursday, and starting to discuss ideas of what we could create using these items. The main ideas that were again brought up were an elephant, more puffer fish and other undersea creatures, the Cat in the Hat and other Dr. Seuss characters (this time including the Lorax). A new idea was also presented-creating a 3-D movie scene that is interactive: you need to look through a viewing area, or "glasses", to see the movie scene. After a vote, this movie scene was what we decided to create.
This then begged the question... what would our movie scene be about? After more sharing of ideas, it was clear that a Dr. Seuss interest had emerged.
We will be continuing this project on a daily basis for the next month, and we look forward to sharing our process with you!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Fifth grade students reading The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate are grappling with a few important themes. Students have written about and discussed three big ideas: gender stereotypes, the struggle to be different and feeling like you don't fit in. Calpurnia is an eleven year old girl living in a family with six boys on a pecan ranch in rural Texas in 1899. Jacqueline Kelley brings this setting alive in her descriptive writing that opens this book. "There was a full day's work to be done before noon, when the deadly heat drove everyone back into our big shuttered house and we lay down in the dim high-ceilinged rooms like sweating victims." (p.1) Calpurnia is expected to learn from her mother how to assume the role of a young woman at this time. Destiny though is not so clearly defined for her. She is drawn to her naturalist Grandfather and learns about the teaching of Darwin and his book The Origin of the Species. Calpurnia discovers a new specimen of the plant world and she and her grandfather document this discovery. Students in book group have been drawn to the descriptive writing of this book and to the big ideas that although rooted in the past still have relevancy for today. The reading techniques of envisionment-picturing what one reads in one's mind in order to understand more clearly a section of the story, the strategy of questioning using examples from the text to support one's wonderings, writing about the big ideas, and text rendering- choosing a word, phrase and sentence have been effective strategies to enhance discussion and understanding about the book.

Fifth Grade Picture Books

After reading and examining many professionally published picture books, fifth graders began to write a story for their meeting partners. They knew right from the start that some of the story would be told with text, ad some would be told through illustrations.

Jody and Lily work together as Lily makes decisions about both page breaks and illustrations for her picture book.

Margaret is working on her storyboards. Notice that she has her text, broken into pages, right beside her.

Here is a sample of s storyboard that one child created. The storyboard constitutes a "rough draft" of the illustrated version of the story.

Here is a final illustration from the same picture book.

Here is another final illustration, this picture is done using water color paints.

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Stay tuned for photos of several final picture books,


and beginning work with memoir.

Time for Recorder

Fifth grade music students have spent the past few classes solidifying their understanding of soprano recorder fingerings, reading notation on the treble clef, and reading music in both 2/4 and 4/4 time signatures. The students are currently working on two German pieces,
"The Cuckoo" and "The Rooster Round."