Gnomes Read, Write, and Think

"Yeah, I've seen those things they think are gnomes," said Ron, bent double with his head in a peony bush, "like fat little Santa Clauses with fishing rods…” -JK Rowling

Update for Parents

All students are working now on writing a historical research report.  This project is aligned to the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and is therefore VERY challenging.  Many students (and even the teacher) are feeling as if they are wrestling a 16-headed 37-armed monster. In other words, they are engaged in the authentic process of researching and writing about a historical topic. Students are all making great progress although at moments it feels like we are stuck in the mud.

The basics of the project:

Students are working individually on a historical research report about an explorer.

Students are part of a group of writers all working on the same topic or similar topics. The group is designed to support all of the writers by being a place to share ideas and resources, as well as a place to get feedback.  The group is not doing a “group project” and students are responsible for their own writing and research.

We are now in phase two of the project where we have completed the bulk of the research and are working on redrafting our writing so that it reflects the CCSS.

Students have a checklist (here is a copy) that describes exactly what the writing should contain.  The checklist shows exactly what is expected of a fifth grader and of a fourth grader.  This is to help with the transition to CCSS.  MANY students may struggle to meet fifth grade standards on this project because the standards have risen so dramatically.  We are in a transition and we are working to make as much progress as we can toward those goals.

All three classes should have a “mission statement” completed by the end of the week.  This mission statement should say exactly what they are planning to write and will help guide them in finishing up their research and focusing on a single message about the explorer they chose.  Mr. Danielson’s class has already finished these.  My homeroom will finish them by tomorrow, hopefully.  Ms. Britt’s class will (fingers crossed) be done by Friday.  Please ask your child to share this with you.

Here are some questions to ask your child:

What explorer are you writing about? (all students should be able to answer this now)

Can I see your mission statement? (some students now, some students at end of week)

What sections will you have in your research report? (all students should have this by end of the week)

What is the main message or “take away” that you want your readers to get from your writing? (all students should know this by the end of the week)

If your child can’t answer these questions by the end of the week, then there is cause for concern.  Please feel free to email me if you have questions about this.

Thank you for your support as we continue to wrestle the monster!

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