Monday, January 31, 2011

We've Come So Far- Just Look For Yourself!

As I look at our current 5th grade class, I am reminded that these are the students who have been living and breathing the thinking strategies since Early Primary. This is the group who has experienced reader's and writer's workshops for the last four and a half years. This is when we really begin to see (more than ever before) how far we (students and teachers) have come.

Here is preview of our upcoming Buckner Beat. Check out the how our Developing Writers Have Developed Understandings.

Have you observed a lot of students don’t have public speaking skills? I know you are thinking public speaking, who cares? But when kids have jobs, most need guest speakers. So if they don’t have public speaking skills they can’t have jobs and won’t go anywhere in life. When I started drama, I was extremely shy. I wasn’t comfortable on stage, and when I would talk soft and I would mush my words together. But after my first play, I felt more comfortable on stage, and was better at public speaking skills. For example, I did not mush my words together and I did not talk soft. So if we had drama kids would have awesome public speaking skills.                                                          - Jake Baliey

I know you may be thinking that sidewalks cost a lot… Research shows that sidewalks would cost 500,000 dollars…I found a cost-sharing program that they have in Chicago… The cost-sharing program is a program that will help pitch in to pay for your sidewalks so they won’t cost as much money. I believe that paying for sidewalks would be worth it in the end…                                                                                                                                           -Makenna Brizendine

Nearly 22 million school days are lost annually to the common cold, Mrs. Cheek, and since infectious diseases account for millions of lost school days and cost the U.S. $120 billion each year, the economy can get rough. …However, Mrs. Cheek, we can reduce gastrointestinal illness and related absences by more than 50%, by washing our hands WELL WITH SOAP, at least 4 times a day.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   - Elizabeth Berhow

… By composting, we cut down on waste and soil that will help trees grow. Each family can fill up several dump trucks a year [of garbage]. By composting we can reduce our carbon footprint…                                                                                                                                          -Anna Ripley       

Did you know second hand smoke can cause ear infections, bronchitis, and even death? Dr. Sepnshect says, “Based on my findings, second hand smoke can cause lung cancer later in life.” His advice, “Don’t smoke around kids.”                                                                                                                                                             - Alison Middleton

Firstly, there are a wider variety of books on the Kindle than our school library. I interviewed Mrs. Dolan, our school library media specialist and technology coordinator, and she says, “…”                                                                                                                                                      -Bryant Reynolds

                Most people enjoy reading the local newspaper with their Sunday breakfast; I choose to read Writer of the Month Entries. This January’s contest posed the most challenging month in the history of the contest. I had no idea that it would be so hard to choose winners when I first opened the yellow 5th Grade folder. I read entry after entry where our students were writing to real-world audiences, concerning causes they were deeply passionate about, and developing their ideas with explanations, examples, experiences, and experts’ opinions.

                As you read the excerpts from our students’ letters, I am quite sure you noticed the authenticity of their topics. This year (more than ever before) our kids wrote to a wide variety of audiences within their school, local community and the larger world- about topics that spread the gamut. Consider how mature our students are! They’ve chosen to suggest a new class at BES, enhance their neighborhood by adding sidewalks, save the earth by composting with worms, save lives by decreasing the smokers in the world or enforcing hand washing regulations, and moving forward with technology by allowing digital book devices. This is what we want for them- we want them to visualize a better world and understand that they have the power to change people’s behaviors, their school, local community, and beyond! The power of the pen is mighty and developing their skills as writers has the potential to make their dreams a reality.

                Read the snippets another time and you’ll surely see the depth to which our students worked to develop their ideas. What began as digging into their own schema, advanced into researching using Internet resources and conducting interviews.  Our young writers crafted topic sentences and then- like Jake- used experiences to explain his opinion. He supported his idea that a school-wide drama class would develop participants’ public speaking skills, and shared his experiences of how drama helped him to overcome his shyness and speak more clearly.  Makenna, Elizabeth, and Anna supported their reasons with research and statistics. Who can argue with a program that worked in another city, or cold, hard facts? Notice how Alison and Bryant developed their ideas by interviewing experts in the field. They knew their audiences well enough to seek out the credible people to get quotes from and used that information to support their purpose. These writers had read enough persuasive writing to understand that the “4 Exs” work (explain, experiences, examples and expert opinions) and intentionally chose which “Exs” would best develop their ideas and persuade their designated audiences.

                As I read and read and reread this month’s entries- and my breakfast slowly disappeared from my plate- I did not grow frustrated at the possibility that choosing only 3 winners could take up a the bulk of my day. Instead, I smiled, shook my head, and reveled in the fact that our oldest BES writers have come so far and are writing so maturely. I feel confident that these kids are going out into the world understanding that they can take an idea, figure out whom can make it come true, and write using their crafts and skills to develop it fully- to make it happen. Watch out! These logical and creative thinkers are destined to problem solve and succeed- fortunately, they also know that if at first they don’t succeed, they must try and try again.

For more information on literacy at Buckner Elementary School, please visit or click on The Literacy Connection on BES’s homepage. 

Be proud of yourselves and keep developing our students- they are our future and destined to change the world.

1 comment:

  1. Way to go 5th graders. Everything you have written sounds so great and makes me want to read even more. Keep up the awesome work!