Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Apollo Middle School 10/25

Apollo RAPS this week was fun.  Working primarily on our own, students chose to read RAPS books, while some got excited about writing their own poem, using the I am from template.  I got the chance to work with a few fifth grade students who wanted more input on their poems.  We were able to talk about how they can use more descriptive language and also learned a number of new words. Other students chose to use a library book and a computer to learn to program using Scratch.  Those same students introduced me later to “a choose your own storyline” book called Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities.  Only one of those storylines leads to a happy ending. 

We added one activity for the class as a whole.  Each rapper had to react to their reading in some way on a reading mural.  Some chose favorite quotes, others chose to write their feelings or describe a scene. 

We will continue reacting to books over the next few weeks and also finish up poems, rewriting, and decorating their creations.

Wright Middle School 10/31

Happy Halloween everyone! Wright Middle School has some super artistic and creative students.  After reading on their own for the first part, students want to let their creative juices flow! They took the idea of a classroom universe mural and ran with it, creating a world in which Suicide Bunny’s surround them. Completely filling up one side of the mural over the last two weeks, they asked if they could flip it over and make an alternate universe – one that does not have Suicide Bunny’s. 

In the past, a few students have expressed the desire to transfer their artistic creations to the task of actually making a comic strip or book.  To support this, we started the RAPS Comic Book, in which they will work together to write and draw their own stories.  Since they are a tad obsessed with Suicide Bunnies, two groups each drew their own version of a funny Suicide Bunny.  Both groups did an excellent job following the constructs of a story in their seven-frame comic.

Next week, students at Wright want to continue making a RAPS Comic Book.  I definitely see reading some graphic novels and comic books in our future!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Litton Middle School 10/27

It is always an exciting day when RAPS scholars get to choose a new book to order! Once we perused the latest Scholastic magazine and made the difficult decision of choosing a book, students at Litton Middle School began their book trailer or independent book endeavor. 

We are so lucky to have Ms. Garrett, the school librarian and tech expert, as a knowledgeable resource to use throughout this project. Ms. Garrett came to talk to the students about Creative Commons, storyboarding, and elements of an effective book trailer. Students began with a paper and pencil storyboard to visualize their trailer. Next week though, we will have stations set up for students to explore Animoto, iMovie, Storyboard That, and other online creative resources. We hope that the students' representations of their favorite books will help guide other Litton students as they choose their next book to read. 

We had a range of imaginative ideas from this group. Two students plan to work together to use stop motion animation for their trailer. Another student would like to design and create a graphic novel of his favorite book. We will have a variety of digital, artistic, and live representations of text! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Cameron 10/25

As our students begin getting ready for Halloween, we decided to start a spooky story of our own. For many students, it is their first Halloween, so we wanted to get them in the spirit. We started the acclaimed mystery YA novel Skeleton Creek. The story follows two teenagers as they attempt to uncover the secrets around the history of their town, finding conspiracies and ghouls along the way.

What is most notable about Skeleton Creek, though, is that it plays with the narrative form in a way that feels genuine to children. The main story is written in the first person as a journal, while the accompanying narrative is a series of videos at the end of each chapter. These videos tend to shock students who are ambivalent into reading into a state of wild interest. Indeed, our students crept around to watch the first video, covering their eyes with their hands and holding one another as the story unfolded. We can't wait to read more together.

We were also able to pass out our September book orders, and the kids were ecstatic! Many of them struggled to pay attention due to the sheer excitement of owning and reading their own book. Then, we shocked them with another set of book orders for next month! Though we won't be in Cameron next week, due to Halloween, we feel confident that our students can't wait to see us again.

Friday, October 20, 2017

McMurray Middle School 10/20

Scheduling and Fall Break made it a long time since we had RAPS at McMurray.  September books came in, and we got to hand out books that students can take home!  They were so excited about having new books!  In addition to new books, it is already October, so we were able to have students browse the Scholastic order forms and choose another new book. 

Students wanted more time with their new books, so we gave them ten minutes to read on their own.  Then we introduced Jacqueline Woodson’s book Show Way, which they read in small groups.  Some students absolutely loved the book and the illustrations. 

For next time, we plan to make a classroom quilt of their own Show Ways based on the book.  They got excited about the prospect of an art project!

Hopefully books come in by our next session, and we can keep up the excitement for new books.

Litton Middle School 10/20

Litton Middle School RAPS students gathered for a great session this morning. They were all ready to get back to RAPS after MNPS Fall Break. Students started out with some silent reading time and hanging out with the group. Two of our students collaborated on an awesome creative project. They combined their love of dogs with their love of Harry Potter to draw the characters as dogs. We love this spontaneous and independent creativity that so many of RAPS students develop. Maybe they will co-author a dog fan fiction?

As Halloween is two weeks away, students read three short scary stories silently. We turned down the lights, put on some spooky music, and shifted the classroom atmosphere. After students read, they had the choice of a few different creative projects. Some students chose to write an alternate ending or extension of one of the stories. Others wrote a short story from the perspective of the ghost or "other" figure of the story. And some illustrated the scene of one of the stories. The picture below is a haunted cabin in the woods!

Next week we look forward to meeting with the Litton librarian to talk about creating responsibly sourced book trailers, placing a new book order, and starting to sketch our book trailers!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Apollo Middle School 10/18

Today was fairly laid back with seven readers.  We began with everyone choosing their book for October that they get to take home and keep! A few boys really wanted to get multiple books and had a hard time choosing which one they wanted for October.  In addition to choosing new books to order, most of the students received their September book orders (we haven’t had RAPS for three weeks since before Fall Break). 

Most were too excited about their new Minecraft Joke Book that they didn’t want to do anything but read and share jokes they thought funny, and since five students ordered the same book and they all read different parts first, we had a great time! 

Since almost all students wanted to read today, only two got to the I am from poem.  Though they did not finish it this week, I’m excited to see their final products in the following weeks.

Cameron Middle School 10/18

After a relaxing and enjoyable Fall Break for the RAPS Team and our students, we were so happy to be back in the classroom together! In the past, some of the students had mentioned that they were huge fans of scary stories, so we thought there was no better time than October to dive into some creepy short stories! The RAPS team found some wonderful and frightening texts from the CreepyPasta blog, in which anonymous authors contribute stories in order to hone the craft. One of the stories, pictured below, resonated with many of the pupils, so they drew some reactions to it.

First, though, we tried to introduce them to the genre, as a whole. We asked them to think of scary stories that they had heard in the past. What made them so scary, and why did they stay with you long after you had heard them? Many of them pointed to details such as monsters and the feeling of being threatened, but some others attributed the genre to the unexpected, and a feeling of dread. We drew all of these thoughts together, and we asked them to look out for them as we read. 

Some of our students wanted to react to the first story, so they drew out memorable scenes and descriptions of the story, highlighting what contributed to the feelings of dread. Others, however, wanted to read more, and experience that feeling all over again. Some of them drew these pictures and discussed how the author made these moves, while others read the remaining two stories, working on some difficult vocabulary and making tough inferences.

Either way, we thin we were able to bring our students into a new and compelling genre, which they hopefully remember around this spooky month! We look forward to heading back next week. We plan on ordering some more books and having one last scary activity!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Wright Middle School 10/17

Last week was Fall Break in Metro Nashville, so we didn’t get to meet, but we made up for missing a week by having a lot of laughs and adding a new rapper!  During our last session, we had worked on I am from poems, and they all wanted more time to work on them.  The girls in class have finished writing their poems but will need next week to finish making it artistic.  One student, who made lots of headway last time, finished his poem and was able to be creative in other ways.

What started as a reading reaction mural, as I had introduced it, quickly turned into a class universe mural inspired by the books they are reading, ideas in their heads, and RAPS conversations.  Only one student could work on it today, but we intend to work on it more together in the coming weeks. 

The inspiration for the change came from the accompanying art to a student’s I am from poem.  In his art, he created an underwater city with a dome, above it is an ocean full of animals: whales, fish, bunny rabbits, and laser eye shooting sharks.  Humans had apparently tied an anchor to the rabbit’s leg in a mob type killing.  Those humans are Australians who thought of interesting ways to solve their rabbit overpopulation problem. 

 I’m very excited to see what they come up with together, and they are too!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Litton Middle School 10/5

We had a large group of Litton students gather on their last day of school before Fall Break! It is so great to have new faces joining RAPS, discovering the beauty of reading for fun and exploring literature's power to communicate so much.

 After our usual time devoted to silent reading, Litton scholars began to plan their "Found" poems. They chose several lines, words, or phrases straight from the text that embody the book, a character, or convey some message about the text. The lines from their text then take a form of the poet's choice. Some may choose to write a traditional linear poem, while others will create elaborate forms that connect to their book's message. 

We wish all of MNPS a fun and safe Fall Break! When Litton students return, they will begin planning an ongoing project to create book trailers, a game version of their book, and other interactive projects!  

RAPS mentors have constructed a tree in Wyatt to display student work! We look forward to more growth!