It’s been a long road for students to get to this point. The second semester tends to be much easier for students. They’ve gotten into their routines, they’re comfortable with their surroundings, and we’re getting to know each other better. I wanted to take a moment to update parents and students on what to expect for the next quarter/semester.

8th Grade ELA

The 8th graders have just finished writing their essay on symbolism they found in the novel, Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. I’m looking forward to reading these next week; looking over the rough drafts many students had a lot of insight into the events that took place in the novel.

8th graders heading to lunch.

Next, students will be exploring poetry. We started on Thursday with a fun activity called “Found Poetry.” Students had to find words in their Fun Read book, then create a poem from those words. We’ll explore a variety of different styles and types of poetry, and students will be writing their own poetry to submit to the Richmond Writes poetry contest. If students are chosen, there are three winners per grade level, their poem will be published in a collection of poetry and they’ll receive a reward, usually in the form of a gift card. For students that do win, they’ll forever be a published author.

After completing the poetry unit, we’re going to jump into another serious piece of literature, “The Diary of Anne Frank.” We’ll read the play together in class, we may have some theatrical activities to spice up the classroom reading. The amount of time that we’ll need to get through this, and I’d like to leave it open-ended in case students want to have discussions, could vary and with end of year activities we’ll tread lightly on packing in too much for students near the end of the fourth quarter.

6th Grade ELA

6th grade students are just getting started on “The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan. We’ve only just begun some pre-reading work, but next week we’ll jump into reading during class. This should be a fun read for students, and most of that reading will be finished in the classroom. Students may be working at different paces, some students read more quickly than others, but we’ll try and regroup to review with each other what we’re reading. There will be a multimedia presentation at the end of this unit; students will be creating a Google Slides presentation and give an oral presentation to the class.

Students will also complete some poetry, it will be on topic for the reading, in order for them to compete in the Richmond Writes contest. Students that are chosen, there are three winners in each grade level, will have their poem published in the annual Richmond Writes review and a reward (usually in the form of a gift card).

After completing “The Lightning Thief,” we’ll regroup to see what we have time for. I’d like to keep the novel unit open-ended so that we can take the time we need to explore the issues brought up in the novel. The protagonist has some learning disabilities which could lead to some good discussions in class.

Film and Multimedia

Year One

Students are completing their unit on video with a fun “Happy Birthday” music video. Next, we’ll explore a career in blogging. Students will create their own blogs on Google Blogger. They’ll research the topic that they’d like to focus on for their blog, what type of personality to exhibit, professional standards of blog writing, etc. Students will write three blog posts each week and reach out to professional bloggers to learn more about the trade.

After blogging, students will explore podcasting. Podcasts are online audio recordings. They could be talk shows, reading literature, historical documentaries, etc. Students will, again, have a chance to explore different options for the material they’d like to cover. Students will create three recorded podcasts, with about two weeks of planning and research for each.

If time permits, we’ll move into online radio which is similar to podcasting but that it’s live! I’m not certain that we’ll explore this, having students live and on the air may be too much, but I don’t want to restrict anything without further consideration. I’m happy to hear from parents if they have any input or questions on the matter.

Year Two

Students chose their focus at the beginning of the year, either short film, YouTubing, blogging, podcasting, or online radio. I’m giving the students (except short film students) the option to switch to another focus in semester two. I’m going to take blogging off the list because it’s not a complete program at this time. For three years, I’ve been trying to work with the district and IT about hosting our own websites so that bloggers could learn how to run their own site entirely, but it still hasn’t happened (though it’s constantly going to happen ‘any time now’).

Short film students are completing their storyboards and will begin filming their short film next month. Hopefully we’ll have time to complete editing and enter the film into some local film festivals. Their work is a year long project so students that began as short filmers will continue their work.

And here’s a great short video students made for a “happy” theme project.

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