Have a great holiday, everyone.
I always had a great time playing with words as a kid, so I experienced fond memories of my childhood this week-end, creating a new teacher-model page in my writer's notebook. As you probably know if you follow my work, each month I challenge my Gifted & Talented students (I have quite a few this year) and all other students who may be interested in with a special GT Writer's Notebook Challenge of the Month.
My students know how to find my website, and they know where I store these monthly challenges. They also know that each month I place the "mentor text" that inspired the lesson near my desk, and they can look through the book any time. At the end of the month, students who independently have completed the challenge show it to me for extra credit points and a prize (a comic book or a smencil is what I've offered to them this year).
We were talking about anagrams earlier this month, inspired by the fact that my eighth graders are reading Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, Jr., and that the movie version of the book is called October Sky--which is an anagram of the original title. Anyway, my kids became really excited about the notion of making anagrams for their own names and for the names of friends.
I thought anagrams might be an interesting challenge for the next writer's notebook challenge. After searching for mentor texts on the topic, I discovered a new author/cartoonist: Jon Agee. He has books on oxymorons, palindromes, and anagrams! Last week, my new mentor text on anagrams--Elvis Lives! and Other Anagrams came in the mail, and my students went crazy over it.
My seventh graders have just begun work on their first big cross-curricular project for 2012. On the evening of January 18, they will be hosting a carnival for their parents, peers, and community judges. After studying how probability can be applied to population statistics in social studies, they will design science-topic-inspired carnival games that explain to participants' their probability of winning or losing each game. It will be an evening of science games with probability and prizes!
To accompany their games and set a further carnival mood, the students will also be designing cardboard cut-outs (like this one), where attendees can stick their head through a hole and be photographed as an interesting character from the Steinbeck novels we have been reading and discussing: The Pearl, The Red Pony, and Tortilla Flat.
Next week, we begin writing the character analysis essays that will inspire the cardboard character cut-outs! The "Mr. Stick Metaphor of the Week" they'll see Monday is designed to be thematic for the project that is about to unfold.
In September, we had discussed the story of Theseus and the 12 other Athenian youths who were sent to the labyrinth in Crete as food for the Minotaur; made some great comparisons between this myth and The Hunger Games, which many of my students had read over the summer. In the original myth, Princess Ariadne (who was actually the Minotaur's sister) sneaks Theseus a ball of twine, which helps him escape--not unlike the parachutes that fall into the arena to help Katniss.
Anyway, the metaphor of the week, which the students will see tomorrow, is an allusion back to that story. I'm finding Mr. Stick's Metaphor of the Week a great way to remind students of stories and poems we had read much earlier in the year.