MS Blazer Buzz 23 Sept
This week's highlight: Storytellers
In September, Emmy Belloni stepped into the Glade of Mr. B’s Mythical Forest and took her place on the Storyteller’s Stump.
Visitors might have mistaken Emmy for a seventh-grader who had simply stepped into a cardboard box.
In Mr. Barringer’s Language Arts class, however, a cardboard box transforms into a tree stump, thanks to construction paper and glue, and students transform from thirteen-year olds into storytellers, thanks to a little imagination.
“I read the book The Raven Boys in the guest bedroom of my house with my new kitten Max,” Emmy read from her essay. “She is shiny black, but she has pure white tuxedo markings.”
All thirty-four seventh-grade students had the chance to read aloud their essays about where they had read a book over the summer. “Every day,” wrote Leila Wilhelm, “we would sit in [my sister’s] pale pink bedroom, her in a big blue chair and me on her purple quilted bed, with our giant golden retriever JoJo at our feet.”
They were invited to describe sensory details: sights, sounds and smells. “As the waves crashed,” wrote Zac Churchill, “I absorbed page after page of the book. The air smelled of salt and water. I felt the calmness of everything wash over me.”
On the second draft, students were asked to add one new dramatic detail. “There were a lot of snakes at the lake,” wrote Georgia Kratt, “and a snake bit one of my neighbors.” Gracie Evans wrote, “Once in a while, I would get up for a snack, usually my all-time favorite goldfish, leaving my cheesy fingerprints all over the book.”
Angus Ewington had read his book in Paris. “I got to try snails with a red wine and shallot dipping sauce.”
All students came to associate their books with the places in which they had read them. “Now whenever I think of House of the Scorpion,” continued Angus, “I think of the delicious seafood we had in France.”
“Whenever I think of the book Belly Up,” wrote Wilder Berl, “I think of sitting on my hard trunk at camp, surrounded by the quiet of pine trees on the lake.”
Emmy wrote, “I finished the book with an adorable kitten at my side.”
And presumably the students now associate where they read their essays not with a cardboard box in a classroom, but with Storyteller’s Stump in a Mythical Forest.
MS Blazer Buzz 16 Sept
This week's highlight:The Greek Festival
Sixth graders started off the school year on the right foot with an informative trip to the Yiasou Greek Festival in Charlotte. Students competed a scavenger hunt as they toured exhibits about both ancient Greek history and Greek Orthodox religious practices. And, of course, they discovered the joy of baklava, and other amazing Greek pastries. The trip served as a kick-off to our unit on ancient Greece, helped students learn about the religions of Europe and allowed them to experience a taste of European culture right here in their own community.
MS Blazer Buzz 9 Sept
This week's highlight: A visit to the Manzanar National Historic site
Middle school social studies teacher, Beth Robinson, visited Manzanar National Historic Site in Mojave, California during the summer months. Manzanar was the site of a Japanese internment camp during World War II, which held 10,000 Japanese-American citizens and resident aliens as prisoners for the duration of the war. A driving tour of the site revealed a military style camp that housed men, women and children. The Manzanar Visitor Center displayed photographs, belongings and many personal stories of those interned there. One of the quotes found among the stories expressed feelings experienced by many Japanese-Americans during this critical period in American history:
"The first morning in Manzanar when I woke up and saw what Manzanar looked like, I just cried. And then I saw the high Sierra mountain, just like my native country's mountain, and I just cried, that's all." Haruko Niwa, interned at Manzanar from 1942 until 1945.
Ms. Robinson will draw on her experiences from Manzanar to create lessons for her seventh grade social studies classes and eighth grade American history classes.
MS Blazer Buzz 3 Sept
This week's highlight: Twitter Math Camp
Woodlawn math enthusiast Julie Reulbach attended the second annual Twitter Math Camp (#TMC13) at Drexel University in Philadelphia this summer. Twitter Math Camp is an educational conference for math teachers that Ms. Reulbach helped develop two years ago. Last year, the first conference was held in St. Louis with 37 attendees. This year, the enrollment tripled with over 100 attendees. Ms. Reulbach served as the moderator of the daily middle school math morning sessions. She also gave a presentation about expanding the reach of the Twitter math education world in order to include more amazing math teachers. As a result of this discussion, math teachers from around the world signed up to host chats on Twitter for subjects ranging from middle school math to calculus!
Ms. Reulbach explains the conference saying, "Think about the best teachers that you ever had and put them all in one room. Ask them to all tell you their best ideas and strategies. Listen in awe and be sure to take plenty of notes. Learn from the best. This was a meeting of the most creative, innovative and inspired educators that I have ever been privileged enough to know. As a bonus, leaders in the math education world like Steve Leinwand, the founder of Desmos, and the entire Mathalicious and The Math Forum team were in attendance.
"Everything I learned at #TMC13 was important, relevant and will directly help me teach and engage my students this year. In fact, I will be lucky if I have time to try out even a quarter of the things that I learned about at Twitter Math Camp."
MS Blazer Buzz 3 June
This week's highlight: Field Day!
Lower and middle school students enjoyed a 'trip around the world' during Field Day on May 24. The event was coordinated by eighth grade students who worked in pairs to select a country and plan an activity related to that country or its culture. Participants enjoyed games ranging from a potato sack race representing Ireland to a baby kangaroo bounce with water balloons representing Australia. Other highlights included a relay race to fill a bowl of pasta with as many yummy ingredients as possible, representing Italy, and the game of Kubb, a traditional Swedish game which had participants knocking wooden blocks over in a strategic lawn game also known as Viking Chess. No matter the destination, fun and learning went hand in hand during this year's Field Day.
Contributed by Kristen Wiesenmayer