As the school year resumes we jumped right into the Poetry Unit. At this stage we are reading poems, observing their structure and pattern and collecting ideas. One of the activities I did with the students today was to collect one -ing word from them and I already had a pretty well-structured poem:
Jianyi is leaping.
Shaddha is exaggerating.
Jon is coming.
Uma is shining.
Sara is dancing.
Cy is aggravating.
Damia is questioning.
Tiger is listening.
Paulina is painting.
Haruka is starting.
Matthew is icing.
Inigo is flying.
Zoe is cunning.
Of course this is not the end of it. As a poet, I’ll probably have to polish it a bit more before publishing. Nevertheless, it’s a good start for my work.
Since yesterday we started learning about birds of paradise, they are from the Pacific archipelagos. Due to evolution, they have become beautiful birds with distinctive beautiful feathers and interesting mating rituals.
We used two texts to learn so far:
1. BBC Documentary by David Attenborough (available on Netflix)
2. TED Ed video about Speciation
We learned that different texts offer different angle of study of the same topic. The BBC documentary offers the history of research on the birds of paradise while the TED Ed video talks about the science of speciation and how these birds got to evolve from a single species of bird.
Since last week the students have been using websites such as National Geographic and iflscience to learn about this weird creature called Hagfish and how it produces its slime. During the process they learn how to decipher tricky words, identify which one is a topic-related word, and which one is a “smarter word that teachers/scientists use”. Today they focused on reading texts, envisioning to facilitate understanding and teaching the information. They watched a TED Ed video to see how videographers choose to use diagrams and graphic representations to help audience understand certain scientific concepts.
Some of them are able to draw detailed diagram with words to help explain the process.
You may be wondering why some of the students were in costumes. It’s because today’s the first day of Spirit Week and the theme is Hero vs. Villain.
1 December was the Elementary Christmas Concert. Fifth grade had a band performance, a series of poem reading and joined the last choir performance. The children, despite already have had some performance experience, inevitably felt nervous before the performance. Just before the performance I practiced visualisation with the students. I asked them to close their eyes, and I narrated the scenes as if they were on stage performing. (You’re walking on the stage, it’s so bright you can feel the heat of the stage lights. You stand on the stage, trying to find your mum. You’re nervous but you know you can keep your cool…)
“And you finish the performance, the crowd loves it. They clap and cheer. You have a big smile on your face. You return to the classroom, satisfied. Now open your eyes.”
The moment they opened their eyes at the end of this visualisation journey, a lot of them were visibly calmer and more at ease, that really helped them perform better.
I first learned this technique as a professional performer and later learned that professional athletes also practice this to boost performance.
Perhaps you can try it too next time you try something challenging! 🙂
One of the complex texts is speech transcript. Famous people often make speeches to advocate certain things, to encourage the crowd, or to spread an important message. Let’s try to upgrade our complexity of the nonfiction texts that we read by dipping into speeches. Here is a list of inspiring speeches:
Obama speech to school children: “You make your own future”
Full text of Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech (Do you know who he is?)
Malala Yousafzai: “Our books and our pens are the most powerful weapons”