I'm giving away a hint to the end of the year with this blog post, but I feel like it's fitting! At the end of every year I teach, I give my students a copy of one of my favorite poems called "Desiderata." Yes, you'll get one, too! I love it because it holds so much applicable truth, and it's one that I hope you reflect on as you move to the next phase of your life.
My favorite part of this poem is the line that says, "If you compare yourself to others you will become vain and bitter; there will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself."
This quote is interesting to think about after yesterday's peer review session. Before you left my room, I reminded you to be HUMBLE and GRACIOUS - motivated to improve no matter what. It's so important to remember that line of the Desiderata.
I actually don't think comparison is a bad thing. You just have to be careful about your THINKING as you do so. I've improved so many areas of my life after studying other successful people and altering my habits to be more like the ones I see. To become a better runner, I modeled my training after one of my fellow colleagues who knew so much about running. To become a better mom, I listen to and read stories of other parents who talk about their experiences as parents. To be a better wife, I look at other women I admire and try to model characteristics I see in them. I do all of these things while trying my best to stay true to who I am. Like the Desiderata says, I need to recognize I can always learn from others and help people who want to improve.
Obviously, comparison can strengthen your writing. Reading the writing of those who excel in adding sensory detail to their writing can help you do the same. Comparing the way you punctuate a sentence that has appositive phrases or dialogue with professional writers can help you learn how to use those marks in your own pieces. However, the key is to GROW from the experience and not let that comparison make you "vain or bitter." In these writing sessions - and, more importantly, in life - if you can learn to not take things personally, but take constructive criticism and DO SOMETHING with it to make yourself better, you will be an absolute success.
One of the things I loved about yesterday was listening to you ask specific questions of the authors and reviewers in your group. You weren't afraid to ask someone what they meant by a particular line in their piece; you weren't hesitant to ask someone in your group to look our for a particular element of your narrative writing. The most mature writers are those that welcome feedback and DO SOMETHING with it. I've seen you grow leaps and bounds this year and I've been especially impressed with how you gave and welcomed the feedback.
I was proud of your work yesterday; I hope you were, too!
So, tell me what you thought! What was your experience like during our peer review sessions? What feedback helped you the most? How did you feel during the review session? What things helped or hindered you? How did you feel as you GAVE feedback? How did you feel as you RECEIVED feedback? What did you think about using Twitter? If we conducted another peer review session, what could we do to make it more effective? How do you do, personally, with being humble and gracious yet motivated to improve?
I came across this awesome article on the New York Times Learning Blog and thought it would be an awesome springboard for a blog post. The end of your middle school career is quickly approaching; it's an awesome time to start thinking about what you've learned and how you'll apply those lessons as you begin high school. High school is an extremely important time in your life - one that you will never forget. You'll have so many opportunities screaming for your attention, both positive and negative. You need to think NOW about how you plan to handle everything that will be knocking at your door.
In the comment section, think about advice you'd give incoming 6th graders about their middle school lives. There's a whole new pool of students who will enter the doors of CCMS and they need to know what to expect and how to handle it.
So, what have you learned? Answer the following questions on the COMMENT section of this blog post.
1. What is your response to Ms. Druckerman’s advice? What pieces of it do you agree with?
2. Has anyone in your life who is older than you ever shared with you lessons they have learned? If so, what did you get from it?
3. Give at least THREE pieces of wise advice for incoming 6th graders. Use specific examples to elaborate on your advice.
I spent the last two days in Houston, Texas, mourning the loss of a family member who fought a five year battle with breast cancer. Cheryl Mistry, a woman who I will never forget, fought with grace, dignity, ferociousness, and courage. Listening to her three children and her husband talk about her at her funeral inspired me and motivated me to be better - I want to be a better person, a better wife, a better mom, a better teacher. Life is so extremely short and we have one opportunity to live it. I listened to a radio show on the way back from the airport last night and they were talking about epitaphs on tombstones and the DASH between our lives. Cheryl lived from 1959-2014. What really matters is that dash between those years; it represents the life that she had and the time she was allotted to make a difference in the lives of others. Cheryl made a HUGE difference in the lives of everyone around her.
I bet if I asked you to tell me about someone who inspires you, you could make a long list. We all have people in our lives who motivate us to be better, just because of who they are! There are so many students at our school who are an inspiration to us. I can think of so many, but Carson Chapman is one who stands out in my mind. Take a look at this week's St. Jude's Patient Spotlight and read about Carson. You can read more stories here.
So, what or who inspires you? Write about who inspires you, why, and give several examples.
Grant Woods created this artwork in the 1930s and it's one of the most well-known paintings in American culture. Every time I view this artwork, I think different things. Is this painting's focus on the woman? Is it about this husband? Why is it called "American Gothic"? What about the time period? What's the author's purpose in this painting?
Take some time to analyze the painting, and tell us what you think? What is the author trying to convey? How would you describe the tone and mood? What things, specifically, make you describe the tone and mood that way? What do YOU think this painting is all about?
Write a paragraph or two explaining what you think, using textual evidence to back up what you have to say.
You most likely think about the word "gothic" differently than the artist. Here is a link to the actual house that was used as the artist's inspiration. Here is a link that talks about Gothic architecture that you may want to check out! Here's another one for you!
This week, we read and discussed the poem "Father To Son" by Carl Sandburg. I loved hearing you infer what the poem was about solely based on its title. As we discussed the use figurative language, the life lessons, and the overall meaning of the text, I realized how vast your experiences are. Everyone's father is different and our own lives can actually impact our interpretation of the poem.
As we went through a close reading strategy together (reading the text multiple times for different purposes), your interpretation may have changed as a result. Please leave a comment on this blog post answering the following questions:
A. How did yesterday's close reading activity change your understanding of the text?
B. How does word choice, figurative language, and repetition add to the overall meaning of this particular text? Use textual evidence to support your answer. Be specific when you talk about the words he chooses (you might talk about tone and mood!), types of figurative language, and repetition. How do these things help you understand what he's trying to convey?
C. What did you learn or notice about yourself as a reader through analyzing "A Father to His Son"? Use textual evidence to support your answer.
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