Saturday, May 14, 2016

Week 35: The Giver, Open House, and SBAC Testing (week of 5/13/16)

After a week of learning about dystopian literature, we began Lois Lowry's "The Giver". This week, we tackled chapters 1-4 as we took a look at the story elements we know so well at this point: plot and characterization. While we're only in the "exposition" of the story at this point, the students were able to identify the characters and their physical and character traits. Students were also able to take the given information and make inferences on to when and where the story takes place. We also talked about society in general with our "pre-reading bias/anticipation guide", answering "yes", "no", or "I don't know" to questions like, "society has my best interests in mind when it makes me do things (e.g. like school)" and "if everyone followed the rules in place, we could rid society of some of its problems". Obviously, some key words in each of those statements could make students' answers vary quite a bit. Students picked up on these words and crafted their argument around the words they chose to focus on. We also studied our first chunk of vocabulary (there will be three), played Quizlet Live and Kahoot, and finished the week with a quiz that just so happened to have five bonus points attached to it. I noticed that the scores were very high on the quizzes this week overall, whether it's due to individual student study on my Quizlet notecards set or the games, the students worked very hard and earned those bonus points!

Next week, curriculum and "The Giver" will be put on hold as we take the annual SBAC test. If your student has their own headphones or earbuds, they're encouraged to bring them so that they can listen to the audio portions comfortably. If they don't have earphones or ear buds, LAMS just purchased some brand-spanking new headphones for the test and they will be available for use. I know that my students will do their best next week. I also know that this is a time of high anxiety for some, so please communicate to your son or daughter that all anyone expects them to do is their best. Slow down, breathe, relax, read critically and multiple times, and be present in the moment for the test. If your son or daughter does that, they'll do just fine. Here are some tips to help your son or daughter find success in next week's testing:

  • Encourage your child to do well but don't pressure him/her. You may stress him/her out. It is important for your child to stay relaxed for the test.
  • Keep a positive attitude about tests.
  • Make sure that your child gets enough sleep on the night before the test.
  • Ensure that your child eats a healthy breakfast and avoid heavy foods that may make him/her groggy and avoid high sugar foods that may make him/her hyper.
  • Make sure that your child gets up early enough so that he/she will be on time to school.
  • Talking about the test with your child can relieve stress about test taking.

Finally, THANK YOU to everyone who came to Open House on Thursday. I really enjoy meeting all of you and having a quick chat. I hope you were able to check out your son or daughter's hard work over the past year, and hopefully you were able to catch a quick chat with me (sorry about the line at one point). I appreciate you taking the time to be a part of your son or daughter's education and campus. Whether it's going to Open House, reading the blog, or it's a quick email here and there, it's making all the difference in your child's education. THANK YOU!!!

This week, we got a chance to see the performed version of "The Cask of Amontillado" by the brilliant company, PoeMovies (they did the quintessential version of "The Raven", pushing Vincent Price's version to #2 after many years of my seeing it as #1). After we watched it, we dove into comprehension questions that spoke about the work's true meaning, hyperbole (exaggeration), symbolism, verbal irony, and foreshadowing. On Thursday, the students had an amazing conversation about these questions and really got to the heart of the piece. Our understanding of the story as a whole is getting much better and we'll be moving on to the final story very soon. Next week, we'll be completing a triple-Venn diagram, looking at the similarities and differences between "The Raven", "The Tell-Tale Heart", and "The Cask of Amontillado".

Questions for the drive home and dinner table:
-What elements of the Community in "The Giver" make the society dystopian?
-Think about the jobs we've read about so far in "The Giver", which one(s) would be good for the person whose biography you're reading? Why?
-We have about one month left of school, how can you ensure you end strong?

Warmest wishes,

Kevin Laffin

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