Today our class will be presenting theories connected to the Star Wars movies. This is the culminating activity to our first inquiry unit this school year.
After getting to know the stories within the Star Wars movies, we began this inquiry unit by having students brainstorm a list of things that they wondered about in relation to the movies. After sharing those we teased out a few big questions that many of them were wondering about and students had the opportunity to choose a guiding question that they wanted to research. These choices helped students to form their inquiry groups around the questions that interested them most. Following that each group of students used the Wookiepedia internet encyclopedia, clips from the movies, trailers, and passages from books dealing with the Star Wars canon to research their guiding questions. After several days worth of research the groups of students developed a theory that answered their guiding questions. The next step in the inquiry process was for students to develop a presentation that would allow them to share their theories.
On Monday students presented their theories for the first time with the rest of our class being the audience. There were a lot of nervous students! Prior to starting the presentations we worked as a class to decide what made a good presentation and developed a rubric that we could use to evaluate student presentations. You can click here to view that rubric. As each group presented, the rest of the class and I used the rubric to evaluate the presenting groups.
On Tuesday each group started off by reading through the evaluations. From there they determined the biggest weaknesses of their presentations and devised a plan to improve it. They worked Tuesday morning to implement those plans and revise their presentations.
On Wednesday students presented for the second time. This time their audience was made up of another fifth grade class. The groups presented to Mrs. Rosenquist's 5th grade class and fielded questions and challenges following their presentations. Everyone agreed that the second time around saw a marked improvement in the quality of the presentations.
Yesterday students once again used feedback from their peers to inform their revisions and they worked to make a few more improvements to their presentations. This afternoon will be the final stage of the inquiry projects as the students will present to a "panel of experts" consisting of district teachers and administrators who are big time Star Wars fans! Our tentative plan at this time is to broadcast that event! Check back here later on this afternoon for a link to that broadcast!
On Friday we will be having our first math test of the year. To help the students prepare I have compiled a playlist of tutorial videos that I have created to help them with some of the key concepts in the chapter. They can click here to access that playlist.
This morning we engaged in a brief writing activity to get our creative storytelling juices flowing. The students were shown the GIF below and given ten minutes to "write a story that goes with the image". Below the GIF are some of the impressive stories our students shared!
I am excited to share that we are off to a great start in our class this year! This week we will be beginning one of my favorite units of study, and one that threads together many of the things that we will do this year, a literary unit of study on the hero’s journey, or monomyth. The hero’s journey is a common narrative template that fits countless works of literature spanning thousands of years and numerous cultures. Conceptually it was originally introduced by Joseph Campbell in his influential 1949 book The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
As a way of giving the unit of study context that engages 5th grade students, we will be watching several of the famed Star Wars movies, to provide us with a lens through which to view this narrative structure. This will allow us to reference the hero’s journey of several characters throughout our unit. The movies may also spawn character studies and inquiry circle groups based around characters, themes, and ideas in the movie. As we move through the school year the stories told in these movies will provide us with touchstones that we will regularly refer back to as we study and create narrative structures of our own
As usual, if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact me.
I'd like to welcome each of you to 5th grade. In just a few weeks we'll be meeting for the first time as a class and beginning to build our school community for this year. I hope that you are as excited as I am!