be socially aware.

In case you blinked in January and missed the memo, it’s February.

That means Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Groundhog Day, and everything pink, red, and fluffy. Also, sugar. Lots and lots of sugar.

It also means it’s Black History Month. Last week, I received the most ECSTATIC text from Jim, my co-teacher. Between the two of us and this whole blogging thing, we have been trying to figure out how to get our kids to contribute to the blogosphere. While reading The Westing Game and trying to determine a summative assessment, I suggested we write blog posts as our characters, introducing character traits and expressing thoughts/feelings as the assigned character. But then, Jim developed an entire unit incorporating Black History Month, informational writing, AND blogging (this obviously happened between his Netflix binges over the weekend 😂).

The premise: kids choose an important African-American, conduct research (with differentiated graphic organizers, obvi), and create their first blog post from the perspective of their subject, outlining major accomplishments and life events. After some collaboration, Jim and I decided that, in addition to that, they are going to be learning formal informative writing skills, completing graphic organizers, collaborating over peer edits, and learning proper revision and editing skills.

Can I get a “HECK YEAH”?! So awesome! MAD props to Jim!

Today we started introducing the unit by going over characteristics of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. I’m so excited to introduce The Write Tools curriculum for informational writing, not to mention to finally get the kids into creating their own blogs! We are planning on doing the blog as well as a formal informational paper…hitting standards left and right!

And, not to worry. I still have a fun plan for The Westing Game and assessing the kids’ understanding of character traits. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we are going to create valentines from one character to another — their choice of whom, as long as they can use textual evidence to prove why that valentine could potentially exist in the novel. (Personally, I’m eyeing Theo and Angela as a love connection, but I’m anxious to see how the kids are interpreting the text!)

But, I digress…

Our guidelines for the biography project are few, but we did say that the kids can only write about African Americans who were born before 1970, thus eliminating such subjects as Wiz Khalifa, Drake, Beyonce, etc. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about Queen Bey. But I’m prepared to be amazed in seeing our kids’ responses to people like:

Marian Anderson, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Thurgood Marshall, Ruby Bridges, Langston Hughes, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, Jackie Robinson, Billie Holiday, and the list goes on and on…

My hope is to share some of the results with you! I’m so proud of my co-teacher and our love for differentiating for our kids, helping them grow, collaborate, learn, and achieve. Thankful to have a positive, collaborative relationship with him.

Oh, and fun fact from my weekend: I used “on fleek” in the correct context. I was stared down judgmentally by my friend, but hey…occupational hazard.

One thought on “be socially aware.

  1. Jim S. says:

    Gosh Mary! I didn’t expect any PROPS for my idea on how to incorporate Black History Month- but I’ll take it! I actually thought of the idea while driving home from work one day- not watching Netflix. LOL. I remember how excited I was and then shot the text to you using some less than appropriate words- a showing of my excitement. I think we’re doing what they call Co-Teaching and doing a pretty good job. I look forward to see what other awesome ideas we can come up with to ensure our kiddos succeed academically in the classroom, but also to see their confidence rise to the sky!


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