Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Looking Ahead at Wright

As our scholars enjoy a relaxing and fun-filled Spring Break, we thought it might be helpful to chart our course over our remaining weeks at Wright Middle. Once they return from the break, we'll spend our first week wrapping up El Deafo, and we'll hopefully get some time to start filming a few of the scenes for their book trailer. Considering they've had some time to reflect on their roles and the book as a whole, we hope they can dive right in and put together a fun book trailer.

As we are filming over the next few weeks, we'll begin reading Skeleton Creek, a young adult novel that has multimedia components. The novel follows two young teenagers exploring a mystery behind their eerie town, as they learn that they may not be able to trust their families amidst the intrigue surrounding the town's history, an old mining company, and a mysterious figure lurking in the shadows. This book is accompanied by a website, with links to videos that are only accessible once students have read to certain points in the novel. It is our hope that the students will enjoy this component, and the mystery and horror themes should keep them engaged and encouraged to read ahead.

Though we might not be able to finish the book as a class, we look forward to doing some creative projects with the text. Hopefully, we'll be able to secure enough copies that the kids will be able to take some home with them in case we don't finish, so that they can find the dramatic conclusion on their own. We can't wait to get back there next week!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spring Break at Wright

Due to an unfortunate convergence of Spring Breaks and a lack of snow days, our team at Wright Middle was not able to go last week, nor this week, and we won't be there the week after. However, we were able to do a good job of prepping our scholars for the coming weeks, as we prepared them to come ready to read at a brisk pace and finish El Deafo next time we are together.

We've also begun to prepare our project, a book trailer for the graphic novel. We've assigned roles and gotten the students to think about ways in which they will film and act in the trailer. Through some storyboards and group discussions, the students should, hopefully, have this creative piece cross their minds sometime over break, and most of them seemed excited to get started on the project once we reconvene in a couple weeks.

Until then, we wish all of our students a fun and safe Spring Break, filled with reading and learning outside of the classroom!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 1st, Wright Middle

Our time at Wright Middle School was a little odd this week. Most of the pupils in our group were off assisting in the school's production of "Aladdin" for the stage. We only had two students with us this week, but we tried to make the best of it! Rather than go ahead with reading El Deafo and planning their book trailer, we decided to have some fun. First, we played a game called "Blurt!" which works similar to some word guessing games that you might have seen on television.
The players have to give clues about a word on a card, as the other players try to guess what the word is. The students really got in to it, but we also think they learned a bit about backwards thinking, critical reasoning, and synonyms, all while expanding their vocabularies in a low-stakes setting. It was also a lot of fun for us to play as well. We also spent some time allowing the students to begin a longer, comic book-style story based on their lives. We got a chance to work individually with both of them, helping them think through the elements of plot and characterization. They also learned a bit about visual storytelling, focusing on some of the strategies we've seen in El Deafo. Both students got the chance to show of their creative side, while learning at the same time: definitely a win-win!

Our co-students of the week are Jimmy and Xavier, both of whom are pictured above with Mr. Hines. Though they were the only students this week, both Jimmy and Xavier are well deserving of the honor. Both pupils bring their best behavior to class each week, and are always willing to put forth their best effort and try some of the creative projects that other students might be a little hesitant to put their best talents towards. They make our times at Wright immeasurably more fun and meaningful, and they are a constant force of positivity in the classroom. Way to go guys!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 22, Wright Middle

We're seeing some great work from our young scholars as Spring Break approaches! We got to spend more time with El Deafo, focusing on intentional choices made by the author and illustrator so that the students can learn a little bit about inferences and creative decision making. They're starting to fall in love with the book, and we even found some kids sneaking some reading in as we were moving on to other activities! We also spent some time at the beginning of class doing concrete poetry, in which the poem takes the form of what it is trying to describe. It allowed the students to express some of their interests in a new, fun way, and it seemed to be an activity that they really enjoyed!

We spent our final moments this week brainstorming for their book trailer, which we hope to get started on in a couple weeks. The students assigned roles and started thinking about filming, which allowed them to think about the text in new ways. This  should also be a good way for students to express themselves, as well as find new forms of engagement with literature. The students seemed really excited about filming soon, and it seemed that a lot of them are thinking about this project in their free time!

This week's scholar of the week is Adut! She likes reading because it helps her learn about all sorts of new things. She always brings a helpful and willing attitude to our program, and she's a pleasure to work with each week. Way to go, Adut!