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If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.


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Book Trailers

My class recently finished our novel study on To Kill a Mockingbird. For homework, we had to do a project on the book. There were five options: an obituary, a book trailer, a play, a list of three people who represented mockingbirds in the book, and a timeline. I chose to do a book trailer, which is below. I hope you enjoy!

BY: Sabrina

BY: Max

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Writing Conventions in Middle School

Cross posted on my Class Blog

I am so proud of the quality writing coming from my students.  Please take a look at their most recent blog posts and give them some encouraging feedback.

Writing is Improving Each Week in Middle School

The Middle School students are given a different topic each week to write about on their blogs.  This week, each grade had a different topic. I have chosen students to highlight for their excellent posts this week. Visit their blogs, leave them a comment, they deserve it.

6th: This week we begin reading the Torah all over again. This year as we study Torah in my class we will not be studying the stories. Instead, we will be studying the mitzvot. How the Rabbis understood the commandments in the Torah. We will learn how the mitzvot developed through the years to what we have today. Why do you think that this is important? How can this type of knowledge help you develop your relationship to Judaism? Do you think that understanding where the laws come from will help you appreciate them more? Is there one commandment that  you really want to know more about?

Great post Benjamin!

The Torah Makes The World Go Around By: Benjamin C

 The holidays are finally over, and now we are back in school full time. The most recent holiday was Simchat Torah, which is when we finish reading the Torah and start over again. On Simchat Torah there a lot of singing and dancing. It is the only time of the year I get to carry the Torah around. I also have a lot of fun with my friends dancing with the Torah.

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This week in Hebrew class, we are learning about the mitzvot in the Torah. Most people interpret a mitzvah as a good deed. But, a mitzvah is a commandment that was commanded by God. We are the chosen people. God chose us by giving us the Torah and the 613 commandments. Each Rabbi has his own interpretation of each mitzvah in the Torah.

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Right now, we are reading about the mitzvot in the Torah and how they developed. I think this is important because God commanded us to follow these mitzvot. So, how are we going to follow the mitzvot if we do not know them? I think this type of knowledge will develop my relationship with Judaism because it will help me understand my religion and the Torah more. I think if we learn where our mitzvot come from, it will help us understand the true meaning of them. I would like to learn more about the mitzvot that we do not practice anymore.

The mitzvot were made over 2000 years ago. But, how are we going to follow these laws when there are so many new inventions and technology now? The Rabbis have to try and make these laws fit today’s standards, so we can still follow the mitzvot.

Hopefully, I will have a great year of school that is full of learning experiences that will help me prepare for my Bar Mitzvah.

Image Credits: Microsoft Clip Art

7th: Write chapter 17 of the book Stuck in Neutral. Make sure that your chapter is consistent with the book we read. Make sure that at the end we know what you think happened. You do NOT need an illustration for this assignment. Your title can be Chapter 17.

Great job Lily!

By: Lily H

My class read a book called “Stuck In Neutral,” about a boy who had cerebral palsy. He couldn’t physically control any movements he made. He believes his dad is going to kill him, and little hints support that theory. Proof shows that his dad really is thinking about killing him, but that he has doubts, too. The book did not tell us what happened. It ended up that when his dad was either going to kill him or not, he drifted off into a seizure. I wrote what I thought would have happened if there was a chapter seventeen.

My version of a Chapter 17:

Once I returned to reality, alive, my eyes happened to shift to where my dad was, dead. It seemed as though he couldn’t decide whether to end my “pain” or not, so he ended his. I wish I could have communicated to him that I didn’t want to die. I wish he knew how I really felt. There is more to me than appearance, and I didn’t want him to kill himself. I have thoughts and feelings, and right now I am devastated.

What would have happened if I could control my movements? Is it possible I would have  a worse life? Would I have a great life? Would I have friends, a girlfriend? Would my dad still be alive? Would he have still been married to my mom? Would my family’s life be the same? What if I could only control one part of me? Would I be able to communicate? I ponder over these questions, thinking about dreams I had and the world around me, trying to answer these questions. All I know is that I wish, just once, before I had that seizure, I could have communicated with my dad. I wish I could have told my dad the truth.

8th: The holidays are over and now it is time to really get to work choosing your year long projects. Tell me what you are really interested in and why. How will participating in this project help the people you will be serving? How will it change YOU? If you are not sure what you want to do, please share your thoughts and ideas so that we can find the right project for you.

Great job Hannah!

How I Can Help

 Now that the holidays are over, and we are back on track with school, it is time to get serious with the mitzvahs that we do every Friday. After driving around Jacksonville doing mitzvot for two years, I want to have the opportunity to volunteer in my own community, doing the same project, at the same place, every Friday. I really want my year long project to be working with pre-school kids. If I do that, then I will be able to see if I actually made a difference, because I would see them on the week days, not just on Fridays. Also, I know most of them, so it would mean more to me because I am already close with them, and it wouldn’t be awkward.

Participating in the project that I would like to do, volunteering in the preschool, will help both the teachers, kids, and me. For the teachers, it will give them a little break. They already do so much, and when we come and help, we can take some of the work off their shoulders. For the kids, it will help them form a bond with another kid. We could basically become their other brother or sister. And for us, the middle school students, it will teach us responsibility that we have to use for school, and for our lives in general. I’m excited to start this year round project, and learn some new things along the way.

1215079-kids-earth-and-peace--cartoon-illustration.jpg_400×400_pixelsPicture from: http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/fat_fa_tin/fat_fa_tin0707/fat_fa_tin070700015/1215079-kids-earth-and-peace–cartoon-illustration.jpg

 


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Researching techniques for 8th Graders

Cross posted from Language Arts Blog

My eighth graders have started a research paper on different types of diseases and disorders.  We are working collaboratively with our science teacher.  Each student randomly chose a different type of disease selected by Mrs. Jaffa to research.  They are using this organizer to create their paper.

8th grade research 2013.docx

Once the topics were chosen, it was time to work with our librarian, Mrs.Hallett.  We started a series of lessons involving how to properly search for reliable information, how to cite the resources properly, and how to take notes without plagiarizing.

Our note broadcaster of the week, Sabrina M., shared detailed notes of our lessons with the class.

Research Paper Notes - Google Drive

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Now that the students have learned these necessary researching skills, they have been working on visiting their chosen sites and taking notes.  Next week, we are planning to start writing the first draft of their research papers.

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What tips have you learned about researching?  What is important to share with others?


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Skyping with Brazil

Cross posted from Teitelbaum Language Arts Blog

My sixth graders had the opportunity to Skype with Silvia Tolisano and her new school last week. They were the experts on creating “tutorials”.  They shared what they’ve learned with the students in Brazil and gave some  helpful tips.

Each student had a different “job” during the Skype call.  We had a tweeter,  two note takers, four students on the panel answering questions, and one student was the photographer.  We also had one student looking up information as needed.

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Have you ever created a tutorial before?  What suggestions would you have to help someone who has not created a tutorial?


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A New Way to Learn Vocabulary

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We have completed two weeks of school and have accomplished plenty.  Learning to utilize only 45 minutes to teach vocabulary, literature, grammar, and writing has been challenging.  I decided to try something a little different with vocabulary.  I introduce four new root words each week.  One student (in each of my classes) is assigned the job of being the scribeThe scribe must open up a Google Doc, define each root word, write its origin, and list 5-6 examples for each.  Here is a sample of one scribe’s assignment for the root word geo:

ROOT                           Meaning                            Origin                       Examples

Geo                               earth                                 Greek                          Geography

                                                                                                                         Geocratic

                                                                                                                         Geodynamics

                                                                                                                           Geodesy

                                                                                                                            Geochemistry

Once this part of the assignment is complete, the scribe must then share the document with all of his/her classmates and myself.  The rest of the students are to choose an example listed for each root word, define it, find its synonym and antonym, and write a sentence using each word.  They also have the option of writing an analogy instead of a sentence.  After the first quarter, I will probably require analogies once a month.  After three weeks of root words, I will assess the students on the meanings.

When I first came up with this idea, I was trying to find some way to have weekly vocabulary, without it taking away too much teaching time.  The beauty of this technique is that it is completed individually at home, and simultaneously provides each student with a comprehensive study guide.  I thought it would be complicated for the students to understand the procedure, but after one week of modeling it each day, they got it.  Each scribe completed their jobs before I even gave a reminder.  Each week a new scribe is in charge.  I am hoping that it will be effective in learning the meanings of many root words, which from my summer reading, I discovered is the key in teaching vocabulary.

I am using mini-grammar lessons to start each class, and then we jump into literature analysis or writing.  My 6th graders will be writing short stories, my 7th graders will be writing modern myths and legends, and my 8th graders will be working on a research project.  We are definitely staying busy.

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Here is one student’s work for the root words bio, phon, dict, and port:

 8th Grade Vocab 8_26_13 - Google Drive


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Great things are happening….

This week, my 5th graders taught a lesson (as a group) to the 3rd graders on how to write a Quality Comment.

Then, the 5th graders paired with the 3rd graders to help them use the skills they were taught to write quality comments on the 4th graders’ blogs.  Each 5th grader worked with 1-2 3rd graders, and the results were quite impressive.  I was amazed with the patience, enthusiasm, and true knowledge of the content they each shared with the 3rd graders.  Here is an example of one of their comments:

Dear Zach,

That was a cool video. I like reading. Now I like baseball. Was that video made because you like
baseball? And why do you like baseball? What are your favorite baseball teams?

Thank you,
Benjamin

Here is an example of a typical 5th grader’s comment:

Dear Julia,

I totally agree that you do have an awesome blog! I love the theme of your blog because it has warm, bright, and cheerful colors. My blog is a bright shade of green, with sparkles, and a butterfly. For the text at the top I wrote, “Make Fantasies Become A Reality”. I love this blog, and what you write about.

Just like you, I as well have an after school activity. I do dance with you, and I do volleyball. I used to do running and swimming, but this summer I am planning on running with my dad at night. Are you going to run with your mom or dad over the summer?

I as well like blue, but I also like black, white, green, yellow, and purple. In Jewish Studies, we are studying the colors of flags. Each individual flag has a color for a reason, which is what my class and I are trying to figure out. Anyways, I like blue because it means freedom and justice. I adore the color white because it means peace, and I think that there should be peace everywhere. I admire the color green because it symbolizes Earth and nature, and I love to interact, study, and learn about nature. I love the color yellow because I feel like it stands for doing the right thing, such as being honest, and I am very good at doing the right thing. I admire the color purple because to me, it seems neutral. In other words, if there is an argument, I would be neutral, I would try to fix the problem instead of siding with one person. Just to summarize, no favorites. Last, but certainly not least, black. Black might seem like a sad and dull color, but to me, it represents determination and courage. Why are your favorite color pink and blue?

I also think that blogging is important because I get to express myself. I get to tell the world about what I am doing, learning, and so much more! I love writing because I can be creative, and that is part of the reason why I like blogging.

I love how you love working on the iPads because that is one little jump towards 21st century. I have my own iPad Mini and an iPod touch. What to you have?

Again, I love your blog, I now know a lot about you, and I hope that we can continue to communicate.

We also started to discuss our next phase of our poetry book that we have been working on.  The students came up with so many questions.

  • When will we publish it?
  • What will we charge?
  • Will we do an e-book, a paperback, or both?
  • Who will our audience be?
  • How will we market it?

So many questions, and so much to do…The students developed a list of jobs (with my guidance) that would be needed to begin to answer these questions.  Once the job list was complete, they had to determine what job would best suit each of them.  Each student developed a resume and applied for one of the positions.  I was thrilled to see that they each applied for positions, which really emphasized their strengths.  Based on the individual resumes, we ended up hiring a VP of Finance,  two students to be the VP’s of Marketing, a VP of Design, an editor, a publishing liaison, a VP of Public Relations, and a VP of Business.  They all have a list of their job descriptions and they will be reporting directly to Mike Fisher and myself on a weekly basis.  This project will continue into next year.  The 4th graders will also be choosing the areas that they feel suit each of them, so they can be on a collaborative team with the 5th graders.

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My fourth graders began to work on our final research paper this week.  They each chose an important person to research from Florida’s history.  Mrs.Hallett, our 21st Century librarian,  helped them determine the proper search engine to use.  They had to find 2-3 websites to obtain the necessary information listed on the graphic organizer that was provided for them. Next, I taught them a lesson on proper note-taking techniques.  Finally, they took notes to use on their essays.  We will be writing the papers this week, and then Mrs.Hallett will be guiding us in creating a thinglink. I look forward to sharing the finished product in a couple of weeks (hopefully).

QC4


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What is a STUDENT LED CONFERENCE?

This conference day I am trying something different.  The 5th graders successfully completed Student Led Conferences earlier in the year with their Mrs.Zavon, and they found it was beneficial to the parents, the students, and the teachers.  Once I heard about their experience, I was ready to try it out with the 4th graders.  I loved the idea of the students taking ownership of their own learning.  Not only can they share their achievements, but they can also reflect on the areas they need to work on in order to improve.  It is a time for my students to reflect honestly and make goals.  We have been diligently writing reflections this week to share with the parents.  My plan was for each child to reflect on a quality piece of writing, share areas of growth in math and/or Social Studies, share achievements in Jewish Studies, and strengths and weaknesses in their work habits.  The students also wrote new goals for the last nine weeks.  They also had to show their technology skills by hyperlinking, adding images, properly citing their images, and provide evidence for their parents. They will reflect on the experience on their blogs after conference day.  Stay tuned our first SLC‘s in 4th grade.

Check out some of their reflections:

Orlig

Jasminem

Ariellat

Emilyt

Jaggerl

Griffw

Samanthaz

Juliac

Joshuam

Elado