Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Apollo Middle School 9/27

Another fun RAPS session.  Today, our session had a bit of a late start because this week was the first time for students doing after school programs to get food in the cafeteria after school.  Our rappers were able to eat together by the front door and our twins were very excited to look at the box of RAPS books that they offered to carry it to our classroom.  On the way to the classroom, they kept commenting about the book titles that they wanted to read. 

Most of this session was spent choosing the books they wanted to read during RAPS.  The most popular books were the Diary of a Minecraft Zombie books and also Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Comic books and graphic novels were also a hit, and some students want me to bring more next session. Multiple students are reading Skeleton Creek and Calvin and Hobbes.  We had one student finish a short book today, and he was very happy to start the Minecraft book next week. 

Continuing on from last week, a few students wanted to finish their Show Ways, and think it’s cool that they will hang up in the Wyatt Center on the RAPS Wall at Vanderbilt University. 

One absolutely awesome moment happened today when a student realised what RAPS stood for: Read and Play Saturdays (or in Schools).  So he decided to be a rapper because he reads and plays in schools.  Check out his spontaneous rap about RAPS.

 Next week we will continue reading and maybe start a RAPS reading mural. 

Cameron Middle School 9/27

We had another great week at Cameron! The children are starting to get into the groove of our sessions, and they keep telling us how much they look forward to our visits. We spent the first few minutes of class finishing up their flags, which should be coming up in the Wyatt Center Atrium very soon! We also handed out book orders, and we collected orders for all the students. They were excited to get a bunch of free books that they can take home!

Next, we wanted to go through some reading with the students. Specefically, we spent some time talking about Langston Hughes' short poem, "Dreams." We asked the students what their dreams are, and what they want for the rest of their life. We then went through the poem together. Many of the students have burgeoning reading skills, and it seemed that this was their first experience with English poetry. Though they were a bit hesitant to warm to the poem, they eventually made some progress. Many students loved the idea of breaking apart traditional English rules, so we may have some future poets on our hands!

Finally, we gave students the chance to write and draw some of their own dreams. Many of them wanted to own their own car or house. We have a lot of aspiring doctors, as well as a small group of teachers! After the tough poetry work, we wanted to relate the content back to their lives, helping them see how important their dreams are, but also how poetry can explain some of these ideas in creative and figurative ways.

All in all, these students continue to grow on us, and we can't wait to head back to Cameron with some free books!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wright Middle School 9/26

Today at Wright, we had four new students join our group.  Because of various school activities that might happen for different students during our RAPS time, we have decided that each student would choose their own book to read from the RAPS room.  I brought more than thirty different titles for students to browse, selecting two books, one to read first and then a second book for whenever they finish their first, depending on their reading speed.  After finishing a book, students can always choose another book, but I wanted students to have the option of reading another book right away!

The new students this week also got to select their own book for September! The boys were very excited to get to take it home!

After making different selections, students got the opportunity to have silent read time for about half an hour, while the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 played in the background.  Today, the five students who could join us were reading Dead Upon a Time (Elizabeth Paulson), Middle School Get Me Out of Here! (James Patterson), Comic Squad Recess!, Space Dumplins (Craig Thompson), and Skeleton Creek (Patrick Carman).  Most wanted to have some quiet reading time, but I was able to read with one of our Wright rappers. 

Books Read Today and I Am From Poem
After our reading time wound down, I explained our activity for today and next week: the I Am From poem.  Filling in details about their own lives, like descriptions of their home, sensory details, and adjectives, students completed about half of the poem today while we were working together thinking of the different details that could go in each blank.  Next week, we will work to finish it, and then students will get the opportunity to write it out on a separate piece of colored paper that they can decorate and truly complete the story of where they are from. 

When I told them they could choose to take home their completed poem or let me hang it at the Wyatt Center at Vanderbilt University on the RAPS wall, a few got really excited to show their work at Vanderbilt! 

I can’t wait to see more of their enthusiasm for reading and creativity!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Litton Middle School 9/22

Students at Litton Middle School had an excellent morning with RAPS today! We started our morning with silent reading time. Ms. Crandall's room transformed into a peaceful reading room. It was difficult to break the silence and begin an activity because everyone was so entranced in their book!

While some students continued to read, many gravitated to the Litton RAPS mural, which we began today. Throughout the semester, readers will contribute to mural with a quote, drawing, scene, or title of a book they are reading. It will be a collaborative and ongoing project that students will add to as they read more and more books.

Some readers chose to draw their favorite character, while others wrote the title of their book or the name of their favorite author. We are already filling up part of the mural, we might need a second or third one!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

RAPS Kickoff at Apollo Middle School 9/20

Apollo RAPS has begun!  This group holds much promise for engaging with books and having fun this semester.  After school ended, students came in, created name tags and took toilet paper.  With six students we did not need to split into multiple groups, but rather gathered around one table.  For each piece of toilet paper, each person had to tell one thing about himself or herself, ripping off a piece of toilet paper for each tidbit and placing it in the center of the table.  By the end of the activity, our group had a very large pile of toilet paper pieces, and got to know each other better.

After that we took a short snack break, only to reconvene again at one table, for a story telling activity.  Each student was given a part of a comic story.  For each piece, they had to describe the image so that the group as a whole could decide the overall story.  The fun part of this was how they debated which image should come third, fourth, and fifth in the story as they were more similar than the other three.  In the end, they created a great story and worked well as a team.

Our book today was Jacqueline Woodson’s book Show Way.  We were able to finish the whole story and also discuss their favorite parts and pages of the book.  They really liked that the Show Way was used through many different generations and told a history.  One picture in the story also showed how the words of the story were quilted together, just like the Show Way quilt. 

Our final activity of this RAPS session was to begin their own Show Ways, their own patchwork quilts that explained each student’s history and story.  We did not finish these and will continue them next week.

Next week we hope to choose separate books that each student can read on his or her own during RAPS.  We are really excited to keep reading!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cameron Middle School 9/20

We had another fantastic week at Cameron Middle School! As the students transitioned from their unit on immigration, we wanted to give them one last chance to express themselves, all while using strengthening their English skills. We decided to create some flags or quilt squares, depending upon how they decide to use their collective products. We showed them the finished drafts from last RAPS year, and let them take off by themselves!

As you can see, we gave them some quick prompts to help them formulate ideas to describe their home country or family. Most of them took this route, rather than describing Nashville, and they did a great job describing their feelings towards their homes. 

While we spent both of our classes working on these creative pieces, we also got the chance to work with individual students on their vocabularies. The RAPS team worked with students whose original languages are Swahili and Arabic, translating some key words from their upcoming unit.

Next week, we hope to get some feedback on their flags, so that we can put them together and display them in the Wyatt Center! We also expect we'll be doing a poetry project, incorporating their first language and English. Fun projects like this should allow us to learn where our students are in their process of learning English, and we can't wait to start on our group readings soon!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

RAPS kickoff at Wright Middle School 9/19

We are ready to RAP at Wright Middle School!  Though our numbers are few, our enthusiasm is awesome.  As it was our first RAPS session, we spent some time getting to know each other.  We had three students as well as Ms. Bonner and myself.  Passing around a roll of toilet paper, students were told to take as many pieces as they wanted – numbers included 67, 36, 29, 12, and 4 sheets.  Then they were told to share one piece of information about themselves: about their reading, likes/dislikes, and their lives in general.  Among these students, I can see us reading exciting fiction, science fiction, and horror.  Students shared that they like reading because it takes them to world unknown to them as well as loving to be in suspense!
Unravelling Toilet Paper
Popcorn Reading Show Way
After everyone introduced themselves, we began a Jacqueline Woodson book called Show Way and had a good discussion about what was going on, the pieces of history represented throughout the story, what the artwork meant, and why slavery should still be discussed today.  Though we did not finish the book this session, students said that they are excited for RAPS this semester.

This week, students chose their own book to order for September.  Next week, we have decided that each student will read his or her own book instead of a group book, so I will bring many for them to choose from. 

We are really excited for this group of students and reading with them this year!

Friday, September 15, 2017

RAPS Kickoff at McMurray Middle School

We had a great first week with the McMurray Middle School book club! We have a great group of 21 students who love reading and come with incredible background experiences. We wanted to spend our first week getting to know the students, so we started our time with an icebreaker activity. We passed around some rolls of toilet paper, asking each student to tear off as much as they wanted to, and then count the squares. After they counted, we asked them to share something about themselves for each square that they took, and the results ranged from the hilarious to the insightful.

Next, we asked the students to make some creative name tents, just to help us in learning their names. They seemed incredibly excited to use basic art materials, and we think we will have a lot of fun doing more structured art together in the future.

We also worked on the cartoon panel activity, which we've had success with in other schools. The children are each given the panel of a cartoon, and they're asked to describe their picture to their small group. Afterwards, they all reveal their picture and try to come up with a story that unites the pictures. The results were hilarious, and the students loved getting creative.

Finally, we had a chance to put in some book orders, and the students were so happy to learn that they're all getting so many free books!

Next week, we hope to get started on Show Way, by Jacqueline Woodson. The story should be entertaining for students, but it also gives us a strong basis for discussion and some fun, creative activities. We can't wait to go back!

Litton Middle School 9/15

We started off another great Friday morning with the awesome kids at Isaac Litton Middle School. Beginning with some independent reading while more friends trickled into Ms. Crandall's classroom this morning, students could read their own book or peruse a selection brought from the Vanderbilt RAPS "library."

The main goal today was to get our first book orders in. The students loved flipping through the Scholastic catalogs to look for a book to keep as their own. They also tried to make a decision on which book they would like to start reading for RAPS book was a tough decision!

Once book orders were decided, we engaged with words, making connections, and using creativity in Ms. Lynn's very own version of Jimmy Fallon's "Wheel of Freestyle." Students chose three random words from a bag and used a word connection chart to get some brainstorming down on paper (most students didn't even need the help...see below!). 

Today during RAPS our students developed as poets, rappers, spoken word artists, and most importantly, readers! Be sure to check in next week as we begin book club reading and creative projects!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cameron College Prep 9/13

We had another great week at Cameron College Prep! We wanted to spend today really getting to know our students, as well as the individual skills and experiences they bring to the table, so that our future sessions can be as challenging, yet entertaining, as possible. Because of this, we decided to make name tents for our students, so that we could get to learn their names, but also so that we could see more about their interests and let them express themselves.

The students are also working on a graphic novel that depicts their journey to the United States. They have requirements on word usage, picture usage, and the expression of emotions, all while moving along a narrative structure. This is meant to emulate The Arrival, which they are reading for class, but we decided to take the opportunity to assist in some editing and revisions, and I think we all know each other a little better for it!

Finally, we decided to have some fun, all while hitting on the same ideas of plot and evidence that they've been working on in their other English classes. Below, you will see six panels of a comic. The interesting part, is that there are no words, and no real indicators for which order they are meant to go in! So, we asked groups of the students to make their own story, pointing to panels for their reasoning behind their decisions. Then, they got a chance to tell or act their story for the rest of the class, with some hilarious consequences.

Overall, we had an incredible meeting once again, and we can't wait to be back with an outstanding and curious group of students!

Monday, September 11, 2017

RAPS kick-off at Litton Middle School

Students at Isaac Litton Middle School gathered before school on Friday, September 8 to kick off another engaging season of RAPS! We were happy to see many returning RAPS students who are looking forward to more enriching time with books this year. Several new scholars joined in on the fun and we are thrilled to get some new books and creative activities started. 

As a way of getting oriented with the group, scholars participated in a short comic story construction activity. The students chose a comic scene card in no particular order, which they kept hidden from the group. They described their scene in detail and listened to the rest of the group describe their scenes as well. Students worked together to construct the story in a creative order and to write an intriguing story. The group of scholars decided to tell the story orally, taking turns around their circle to add in details. Once the story was complete, everyone revealed their cards. The students came up with some interesting questions once they could see the other images: what happened to upset the king? Is that dog food in the bowl? Did the mouse help the woman escape from the dungeon? 

Next week we will explore a selection of new books, place our first book order, and discuss the dynamics of book clubs, which we will begin in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Getting Started at Cameron College Prep

On Wednesday, September 6, the RAPS team got started at Cameron College Prep! We're truly looking forward to working with our classes this semester, and we've gotten a lot of help from the students' current teachers. The population at Cameron is incredibly diverse, and most of them speak English as their second language. Additionally, their is a large immigrant population at Cameron, all of whom seem extremely excited to get started reading and working on creative projects. Because of this, we plan on working with the teachers at Cameron, who have the scholars working on The Arrival, by Shaun Tan.

The Arrival is an incredibly interesting story, as it features no words. However, it tells the story of an immigrant, who moves to a strange new land in search of work to help his family. The new country is incredibly odd, and features animals, items, and buildings which are unlike any in human existence, marking the journey as universal and applicable to any traveler. For these reasons, the story resonates with the students, and they can study the elements of craft and style in a narrative while working on their burgeoning English skills with fun activities.

Next week will be the RAPS team's first week bringing in some fun crafts and creative projects for the students, and we can't wait to be back!