6th grade Language Arts teacher Angelique Foster engaged her students with a textual analysis of President Obama's inauguration speech. Students were given excerpts from the speech and given the opportunity to choose one excerpt that "spoke" to them the most, which was then taped in their writing journal. As a group, they used dictionaries to understand the literal meaning of the speech. Then, the students worked individually to craft a written response to the speech, in any genre. Finally, they identified individual phrases in the speech that were particularly well crafted from a writer's perspective. The classroom activity engaged the students using the design qualities of choice, affiliation, and authenticity, while reinforcing what the students are learning about the writer's craft.
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5th grade Language Arts teachers Karen Arnold, Doug Jeffcoats, Casey Myers, and Megan Parks had their students work on characterization by decorating pumpkins. The lesson began with a review of the author’s craft of characterization and use of figurative language. Students were then invited to decorate a pumpkin however they chose to represent aspects of the pumpkin’s personality or characterization. The results were very entertaining and showed great depth of thought. The project required creativity, planning, and follow-through. Students concluded the project by producing a well-written paragraph analyzing their pumpkin’s “character.”
Kathy Wofford designed a project for her students to look through the four lenses of geography: culture, physical geography, economics, and government. The students had to do research to find facts about these core areas and pictures to go along with them from the internet. Then, students pulled their research together in a PhotoStory movie with narration and music they selected that they felt would enhance the movie. Learners had to explore abstract concepts in the creation of their movies such as file formats of graphics, video, and audio files. Students were so enthusiastic coming into a classroom full of laptops, headphones, and microphones. The excitement was palpable in the room and comments ranged from, "This is a techno classroom!" to "This is going to be so cool!"