Wednesday, April 9, 2014

James Patterson Came to Speak to Us!

Yesterday we had a once in a lifetime opportunity! James Patterson came to Vanderbilt specifically to speak to our students and the students in other programs that he's involved in. It was amazing to get to see one of our heroes in real life. Mr. Patterson began by speaking to the kids about their interests and passions. He then went on to explain how he became an author and the process that he goes through as a writer. Finally, he took the time to answer questions that the students had. We were impressed with the thoughtfulness of our students' questions!

It was inspiring to say the least! Mr. Patterson even gave our students signed copies of his new book, I Even Funnier: A Middle School Story. This is a day we will always remember. A huge thanks to Mr. Patterson for taking time out of his incredibly busy schedule to speak to our students. Here is a video of Chibuzor, one of our students, asking a question, and a few pictures from the event.

April 5 Meeting

We had our next to the last meeting of the year last Saturday. It is hard to believe the school year is winding down already!

Students came in and looked at the cover of our new book, Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall. They made predictions beginning with "I want you to know..." from the perspective of the boy on the cover of the book.

Next, we continued our #whatsyourstory project. Students created blackout poems using a page from Diamond in the Desert, the book we just finished. Students watched this time-lapse video created by renowned blackout poet, Austin Kleon to introduce them to the process.

Later in the morning, local singer/songwriter Anna Johnson stopped by to talk to us and play a few of her songs! The students loved her music. A huge thanks to Anna for taking time out of her busy schedule to come by and see our students! Here is a little clip of Anna playing one of her songs.

During the last hour, we had another very exciting visitor! Stephanie Pruitt, a local poet and self-proclaimed "creative waymaker" stopped by to work with our students. Stephanie did an amazing hand poetry activity as well as involved our students in collaborative spoken-word poetry and storytelling. We loved having Stephanie attend our session, and we hope that she will collaborate with us again in the future!

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 22 Meeting

We had another fantastic meeting last Saturday. Even though our students we were on spring break, they came in ready to read and have fun!

Our #whatsyourstory project is still in full swing. We listened to more music, and students picked songs that they feel represent them and their lives. We continued working on our six-word memoirs. Students also continued reading Diamond in the Desert. We finished up by painting eyes inspired by Rene Magritte. The students did an incredible job! We can't wait to unveil all of our creations at our gallery show on May 3.

Here's a sneak peek of a few of the projects we've been working on.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday, April 5. Also, don't forget about our exciting opportunity to meet James Patterson coming up! Check your email for more information!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 15 Meeting

We enjoyed spending time with our students last Saturday! We had an eventful day, to say the least. First, students came in and sketched moments from their typical day. We used their sketches for something exciting later in the morning!

Next, we broke into three smaller groups to continue our #whatsyourstory project. The first group read Diamond in the Desert by Katherine Fitzmaurice. Before reading, students watched an Animoto video that familiarized students with Japanese internment camps. After reading, students chose a word or phrase they felt was significant to Tetsu's (the main character's) life from the book to add to a poster titled, #whatstetsusstory.

The next group participated in a music activity. Students listened to "A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke and "Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer. They compared and contrasted what was going on in the world when each song was written, and what each songwriter may have been thinking when he wrote his song. Students collaborated with each other using iPads to complete activities related to the songs. Students wrote additional lyrics, created album covers, used the Skitch and Facetalk apps, read an NPR article on Sam Cooke, and even got with a partner and had a conversation pretending one was Sam Cooke and the other was John Mayer!

The third group wrote six-word memoirs to go along with photographs they took in their neighborhoods. Our students came up with some amazing things! Click here to watch an example of six-word memoirs. We will put together a multimedia presentation of all of our memoirs at our next meeting.

During the last hour of our meeting, we had a delicious snack donated by Donut Den. We then created a mural of all the students' moments from their typical day as a middle schooler. Julia Denison, an experienced mural artist, came to help students. It was a wonderful experience, and we look forward to putting up the finished product!

We look forward to seeing everyone this Saturday, March 22! Don't forget to read to p. 26, choose a song that represents your life, and take your neighborhood photos if you haven't already!