In Fifth Grade, there’s been a lot of talk about literacy. Last week, we took a closer look at literacy statistics around the world. Students have started to consider all the myriad factors that contribute to illiteracy including economic, social, financial and cultural influences. Through stories, articles, videos and discussions, our class is exploring how reading can impact one’s life.
Today in our Reader-to-Reader session, our class viewed a short documentary about literacy concerns right here in the United States. This episode of Unreported World, a current affairs program produced by the United Kingdom’s Channel 4, focused on some of the challenges faced by the Detroit, Michigan community, and how schools, kids, and families across the generation are trying to raise the literacy rate and stop a cycle of poverty, prison and unemployment there.
(Please note, I skipped a middle part that discussed Secretary of Education Betsy De Vos’ shortcomings as it strayed from our focus.)
The lightbulb moment came in our discussion following the documentary. The students had many insightful comments about the individual stories portrayed in the video, and several students said that they found the video hopeful and inspiring. Many asked me to follow up about the lawsuit that students brought against the state of Michigan for its failing schools and low literacy rates. Eventually, the students suggested that perhaps there were things that we could do to help communities where illiteracy rates are high and support is needed. While a few suggestions were thrown out, I urged the class to take a bit more time to learn more about literacy issues before diving into some ways to help.
Naturally, I am excited that our class is motivated to learn more and inspired to take action. Stay tuned as our service learning plan unfolds throughout the year!!!
First round of letters ‘en route’ to our penpals in France!
Our grade 4 and 5 French students have just sent their first letters to our penpals in France!
I have organized this Penpal exchange with the Montessori School of Uzès, a bilingual school in a picturesque village in the South of France.
Throughout the coming year, we will build on our correspondence with Madame Dubreuil’s class; we will write our letters in French, building our vocabulary and sentence structure, and including a couple of short sentences or questions in English at the end of each one; the French students will do the inverse!
It promises to be an enriching and fun project for our students to embark on. They will see their French skills be put ‘into action’ and see their growth in the language throughout the year, all the while, learning about the life of students their age in France. It will provide a glance into the culture of adolescents across the ocean.
The Montessori School in Uzès is as enthusiastic as I am about this partnership. Mme. Dubreuil (headmaster and elementary school teacher) writes;
“‘I’m so enthousiaste!! this is going to be a wonderful experience for our elementary children, open their eyes on another culture, get to know children from another country. Thank you so much for contacting us and going on with this adventure!”
Here is a link to their school website; http://www.montessori-uzes.com/
Please follow the link below to the album of photos from French class, where you will see the students at work on their letters!
Reader-To-Reader: Fifth Grade Explores the Theme of Literacy
Each week in Fifth Grade, we have period called Reader-to-Reader. This is a time for us to participate in a literacy-based activity that is not necessarily connected to what we are doing in English class. Although we have only had 3 Reader-to-Reader classes, we’ve started to already develop a sense of what literacy is and its importance. In week one, fifth graders shared and discussed their favorite books and made short video commercials for them. We also viewed the following literacy video featuring both non-hearing and hearing students.
Our Kindergarten friends joined us for the first of many peer-reading sessions in week 2. Each student was paired with a younger student to read to. This past week, our class shared two stories. The first, The Wednesday Surprise, by Eve Bunting, tells the tale of Anna, who teaches her grandmother to read as a family surprise. The students were surprised to learn that not all adults in the United States can read. We imagined what it might be like to be in the grocery store or the airport if you can’t read the labels or signs. In our second book, The Day of Ahmed’s Secret, authors Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland craft their story in modern-day Cairo with its myriad sights, sounds and textures. Ahmed is a young man who works delivering bottles of fuel to customers around the city. He is excited to finish up his day’s work and reveal a secret to his family. In the end, we realize that Ahmed’s secret is that he has learned to write his very own name! Again, our class imagined how proud Ahmed must be of this accomplishment, and what it might be like to live in a country where students work instead of attending school. We agreed the process of learning how to write one’s name is a milestone. Slowly, our class began to unravel the idea that not everyone everywhere learns to read the way we do here in the Berkshires.
I anticipate that these periods will continue to encourage lively and thoughtful discussions about reading across times and cultures. Stay tuned for more literacy adventures in weeks to come!
By jlederman|2018-09-28T12:06:39+00:00September 28th, 2018|Categories: Grade 5, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Reader-To-Reader: Fifth Grade Explores the Theme of Literacy