Saturday, May 7, 2016

Week 34: Dude. Be Nice Week, Quizlet Live, and THANK YOU!!! (week of 5/6/16)

Not only was this week Teacher Appreciation Week, it was Dude. Be Nice week here at Laguna. The spirit of positivity and community spread all over campus this week. Students participated in spreading kindness through a high-five challenge, by thanking our custodial and office staff as well as the bus drivers, and by celebrating Mrs. Norlock (8th grade PE), the first-ever recipient of the "Dude. Be Nice" award. The students really made Laguna a better place to be this week through their positivity. It was fun to hear "dude, be nice" as I walked through the halls. On a similar note of positivity, THANK YOU for your notes and gifts this week. I am so lucky to work in such a caring, amazing community and I am reminded of my luck each and every day. Thank you for sending your amazing young people to me. When people ask me what I do for a living, scrunching their face and asking "why" when they hear I teach middle school, I tell them I do it because these kids are incredible. Their spirit is inspiring, their knowledge amazes me each day, their humanity and kindness makes my job less a job and more a passion. If I have a crazy, fun, new idea, I know that I'll get to try it out with a willing audience. Thank you for all that you do to make my job so rewarding!

We spent Monday and part of Tuesday finishing our dystopian literature notes. Everyone worked really hard to get their notes completed at their own pace. Some students are already seeing the cause and effect between the beginning of a utopian society (or what causes groups of people to split off and form their own community) as well as the cause and effect of the eventual failure of such communities. Students had an open-note quiz on Tuesday on these very notes. We also started building our dystopian literature unit folders on Wednesday. I found much success with the folders for the Tap versus Bottled Water- Argumentative Writing Unit so I figured we'd give it another go, this time earlier in the unit. We had fun decorating our folders wit different graphics, shapes, and symbols. I saw a lot of great creativity from everyone; be sure and check them out at Open House!

Speaking of Open House, this Thursday, May 12, 2016, Laguna is hosting an Open House from 6:30pm-8:00pm. Please plan on stopping by to visit your son/daughter's classes to see their amazing work from throughout the school year. On display in my classroom will be the following: bullying presentations, bullying informational/expository essay, 1960s presentation, 1960s historical narrative, "The Outsiders" character development essay, 2nd quarter Independent Book Project Infographic, 3rd quarter Independent Book Project group travelogue, Tap versus Bottled Water argumentative essay (letter) and unit folder, and the "Shut Down Your Screen Week" argumentative essay. I will also be on hand to chat and say hi. Please note that Open House is not a conference period. Please set up a meeting to talk specifics about your son/daughter.

We ended our week by playing a new vocabulary game that Mrs. Jones, 8th grade Science, told me about. It's called Quizlet Live (Quizlet is a great website for studying vocabulary and making online flashcards). Similar to Kahoot, Quizlet Live is an action-packed, fast-paced game but this one puts students into teams of three or four. Then, each student in the team gets the same definition and it's a race to find who has the right vocabulary word (each student in the team has four vocabulary words that are different from their teammates' list; only one person has the correct word). It's an exciting race to the finish as students discuss words and definitions in an attempt to beat the other teams to the finish line. I like this game because it's quick so we can get four or five rounds in and students can see the words and definitions multiple times. The students like it because they get to move every round and they love the competitive aspect. Mrs. Mooney even joined us because she heard how much fun we were having!

In AVID this week, we took a trip to Medieval Italy by reading Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado". The students loved the twists and turns the story took, especially as we read and reread the story, catching new things each time. This week, we focused on vocabulary because it's an integral part in understanding the story, especially those that were written long ago. We also got a chance to play Quizlet Live and Kahoot with our vocabulary and the students had a lot of fun learning the vocabulary in an exciting way. We finished our week by playing Guesstures, a charades-like game where each person's goal is to act our four different things before the cards they're written on drop out of sight. Our game ended in a tie between the teams, much to the dismay of the students (trust me, it was a tight game but was also a true tie). Stay tuned for next week's champions!

Questions for the drive home and dinner table:
-How do the governments/powers-in-control in dystopian fiction keep the societies under control?
-Why are utopia started in the first place? What makes a utopia turn into a dystopia?
-Think about the person you're reading about for your biography: what kind of a society would be a utopia for them? How would they keep that society perfect?

Warmest wishes,

Kevin Laffin

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