Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Taking Notes, Donorschoose Books, & Thanking Our Donors

We continue to embark on taking notes to gather information from multiple sources about our focused topic. The topic I'm modeling with is spirit bears, as it relates well to the novel Touching Spirit Bear that is guiding a lot of our learning we are doing this quarter. Yesterday I modeled taking notes from watching a video about spirit bears. Today I modeled how to take notes from a website. This is the website I used:

As I read from the website, I noted key words and phrases that I felt were important for the public to know about spirit bears. I recorded those ideas on the graphic organizer below (and on the back!)

After I modeled, students tried on the skill of reading from a website and taking notes about circle justice, another topic from novel Touching Spirit Bear. I sent the website to their email to read online. 

Students added notes to their graphic organizer from this second source. This graphic organizer is one all disciplines in our school are using to help scaffold the writing process of any informative/explanatory writing task in any subject area. By consistently using the same graphic organizer, our hope is that kids will eventually be able to create one from scratch as they organize their writing in the future when we teachers are not around or aren't allowed to help them (a.k.a. taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment!)
 Notes that didn't fit on the front were written on the back.

Here is an example of one student's notes from the website about restorative justice/circle justice. Many students made comparisons to this factual information and how Ben Mikaelsen used these facts as part of his novel. My favorite quote from today was, "So, Miss Bongers - spirit bears and circle justice are real things? I thought Ben Mikaelsen just made those things up for his story!" Helping kids see these connections - that real authors pull in facts to write fictional stories will help as we draft our own narratives later.

After students finished reading their second source and taking notes, they read Ch. 6 from Touching Spirit Bear. In this chapter, Cole (the protagonist) encounters the spirit bear for the first time. There is also narrative in this chapter about Cole's circle justice hearing. Our research helped inform students about both of these topics so that their comprehension of the text would increase.

In our next class, students shared the notes they recorded from restorative justice website. Before they discussed with one another, we reviewed our rules for collaborative discussions.

Partners practiced these behaviors during their discussions.

Students recorded any facts their partners shared that they did not have on their own sheet.

Then we came together as whole class, and I had every student share one thing they learned from the website as a way to 'hear all voices'. This was the final set of notes for one student after independent work, partner chats, and whole class discussion.

In other news, our shipment of new books came from Amazon as a result of our project getting funded at Check out all the great new titles that will now be in the hands of our 7th grader! Thank you to all of the community members (parents, grandparents, friends, and strangers) who donated to this project. I wanted to give a special shout-out to U.S. Cellular who funded the projects of MANY teachers all over the country. Thank you for supporting education!
The kids were excited to get their hands on these new books today!
 (PS - It's Superhero Day at our school, so some of our students have costumes and hats on!)

I am very grateful to the donors who were so kind to help fund our project. Because we want them to know how thankful we are, we wrote thank you letters to all of them. So, to Mom & Dad, Libby Jones, Pat Jones, Michelle Hase, Dusty Jacobson, Meghan Cropp, Heather Trevino, and U.S. Cellular - THANK YOU for keeping the excitement of reading alive in our 'tweenagers'!

And one more picture because one of my 7th graders ROCKED Superhero Day with his pink tights and cape:

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