Today we didn’t have a traditional day at school. We celebrated reading!
Students (and teachers) choose a book from a long list to read over the summer and then we spend one day discussing the books and celebrating! In the morning, we had pre-discussion time with our advisories (so they could actually have time to remember what they read). Then we moved into the gym and auditorium for the summer reading movie. This year’s was way better than last years’ but not much can compete with two years’ ago! After that, students separated into groups based on their books (about 2 teachers per group).
Keely Hitchings and I read The Orange Houses. We started by having them fill out a google form.
This served serveral purposes: attendance, iPod use agreement and gathering their student number so I could give them author priviledges to our blog (more on that in a minute). For our getting to know you activity, everyone (including Keely & I) wrote 3 truths on a half sheet of paper and crumpled it up in a ball. As students picked out paper balls, they read the 3 truths and tried to guess who it was (most students didn’t know each other). When we guessed correctly, the student told us their name, grade and gave a star rating to the book. Ratings ranged from 2 to 4 with mostly 3s and 4s 🙂 Yay for a good book! (seriously, you should go read it)
Our next activity was a philosophical chairs anticipation guide. Students moved to one side of the room or the other based on whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement displayed. Going back and forth between sides, students summarized the previous person’s argument and then gave us their own opinion. Last year, this activity didn’t go so well for us (we read 13 Reasons Why). This year, however, it took up way more time than we thought it would and we actually had to stop students from talking…because we wanted to move on the the awesomest part of the day!
Keely and I choose a couple good movie trailers (The Dark Knight Rises, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and a couple bad trailers (Twilight, Click, Transformers). We noted that it was not that these were bad MOVIES, but bad TRAILERS. We asked the students to think about what made them good or bad as we were watching them. This is what Keely and I came up with:
*makes you want to go see it NOW (even for $10)
*tells you just enough about the story to intrigue you
*tells you about the story, but leaves big gaps
*gives away the entire movie (predictable plot)
*don’t need to pay to see movie after seeing trailer
*doesn’t make you wonder
*scattered, not organized
Students then had options for what they created based on our book. Using iMovie, they could create a movie trailer. Because of time constraints, we only had one group choose this option.
The other options were a storyboard trailer (using Keynote), an epilogue, detailing which Hollywood actors would play the characters in the movie version (and why), and a countdown to a life-changing event in their own life. Because we had so little time, most of the students chose to write an epilogue or choose movie characters. Check out our blog to see what they did! The logistics of how they edited the blog…During lunch I added each of the students in our group as an author (using their google apps account). They were sent an email from me inviting them to join the blog. Using the iPods, they checked their email and followed the instructions for registering for blogger (in the future I would be diligent about having them create appropriate usernames – first initial, last name). Then students accessed and edited the blog using the Blogger app that I found in iTunes and downloaded to each iPod. This app was a great way for them to create posts with pictures. Last night, I went through and took away their author privileges so they can’t go do anything irresponsible now that we’re not watching over them. If we had more time, it would have been fun for them to comment on each others’ posts.
For the last 1.5 hours of the day, everyone headed to the gyms for a carnival. There were tons of games, face-painting, dancing, and FOOD. It’s craziness, but most of the kids have fun.
Overall, I think this year was the best celebration since I’ve been here. My only complaint was that the carnival was too long and we didn’t have enough time in our book groups. But I know other teachers would complain that they had too much time. Although we maybe get half of the student body to come to school (I don’t know exact numbers), the ones that do come seem to have a pretty good time even if they don’t want to admit it 🙂