Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Time

My Thanksgiving post is going to be about compassion.  I recently attended a professional development  session about "mean girls."  The main point that we took away was that the girls that fall into "mean girl" behaviors need to understand compassion.  I wondered how you could really teach compassion, and decided to try it with my advisory group of seven girls.  I asked them how they could show compassion to the world.  Immediately they thought of things that cost a lot of money.

  "We can buy meals or clothes for needy people."
"Yeah, or we can buy Christmas presents for kids our age."

I thought these were very good ideas, however I didn't want to spend money and I wasn't sure how their parents would feel about that prospect either.  I tried to direct them to ideas that might not cost any money.  One of my girls then brought up an idea that she did with her girl scout troop.  They made dog toys with old jeans.  Thus, the service project was born.  We would start by collecting jeans from the whole school.  We made signs and posted them around the hallways.  Then the next week at advisory, we started making the toys.
Here's what you do:
1.  Cut on the seams of the jean legs and cut off the pockets and zipper, you only need the jean legs.  You will be left with four panels.
2.  Cut each panel into three strips.  Each pair of adult jeans can make four dog toys, because you need three strips to make the toy.
3.  Make a knot at the top of the three thin strips.
4.  Braid under your knot.
5.  Make another knot at the bottom of the braid.  
Here's what the final product looks like.  

We are donating these dog toys to a local shelter.  This project is my first attempt in building more compassionate seventh graders.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

AVID One Pager

Welcome to the first blog post of Dava Smith English Teacher.  Writing a blog stemmed from my discovery of the website Teachers Pay Teachers.  It turns out that the creative lessons that I've been making for years can now be turned into extra spending cash.  It also seems as though the way people actually earn money on this site is by being all over the social media world.  Plus, I really think that I have valuable information to share with the world.  

So, here it goes...

My most recent project with my seventh graders was the Theme One Pager.  This AVID technique is a very succinct way to sum up a novel.  The students need to pick a scene from the novel that represents one of the themes of the book.  The picture should take up the majority of the page, with as little white space as possible.  On top of the picture students need to put two quotes that support their theme, a paragraph explaining the theme and the connection to the quotes, and a personal reflection.   We had finished reading The Giver, by Lois Lowry, so some of my students chose a black and white color scheme to represent the colorless world that Jonas lives in.  The students were encouraged to do a rough draft first and then put it onto a plain sheet of printer paper (white or colored).  This took us about three days in class, and then students needed to finish it at home if they didn't finish it in class.