Today is the official day of Dia de los Jovenes/Dia de los Libros, also known as DIA. I began the day again teaching and helping Mr. Kraus’ 8-4 students with their Social Studies research reports. When they left, I spent the rest of the day with the 8th graders from Ms. Hill’s Spanish classes.
As we’ve been experiencing all week, today’s DIA celebration was just as memorable as the others, with students engaged in reading, discussions, and practicing their Spanish while relaxing and improving their understanding of the Latino culture.
Below are a few more photos showing the variety of available Latino literature for the students to browse, as well as their enjoyment of the books as they read in groups and individually. I also created a slideshow of the week’s photos so you can see all of the 8th graders engaged in learning about the Latino culture as they enjoy Pollard Middle School’s celebration of Dia de los Jovenes/Dia de los Libros.
I would like to give a special “gracias/thank you” to Sra. Hill, Sra. McKenna, Sra. Streisfeld, and Sra. McNamara (8th grade Spanish teachers) for their willingness to have their students participate in a week long DIA celebration and helping me to fit it in between my teaching of Mr. Kraus’ classes. It was a long and tiring week teaching seven back-to-back classes every day, with just a short lunch break, but I’m glad the students were able to benefit. The photos show it all.
Feliz DIA a todos! Happy DIA everyone!
Today, after my time teaching and helping Mr. Kraus’ 8-4 Social Studies classes with their research papers, I worked with the last of Ms. McKenna’s 8th grade Spanish classes for our celebration of Dia de los Jovenes/Dia de los Libros. Made up almost entirely of boys, the class was eager to get started reading in their groups. It took them a few minutes to decide what book they’d read, as they seemed to like all of them. Finally, their choices were made and they settled down to read.
As I walked around listening in to their readings, helping with definitions and pronunciations, and taking candid photographs, one group of boys called me over to them. The two of them seemed quite advanced in their knowledge of Spanish, filling me in on what the book was about and telling me how they were working.
They told me that they were taking turns reading the Spanish portion of the story aloud to each other. Whatever one person read in Spanish, the other would translate into English. I thought that was a very ingenious way of learning the language and asked the person checking the translation how close did his partner get to the true meanings of the words. He answered “pretty close!” Good job guys!
Our celebration of Semana de los Jovenes/Semana de los Libros (Week of Youth/Week of Books) celebrated another successful day with this group of 8th graders. Tomorrow (April 30th) is the actual Dia de los Jovenes, and will be a chance for me to see the last of the students have an opportunity to read the cultural literature I have collected for their enjoyment.
Keep on celebrating everyone!
I overheard the simple sentence “Wikipedia doesn’t have what I need” as I walked around the Inner Space classroom and the Library helping Mr. Kraus’ 8-4 students with their research. When I heard it, I had to stop and ask him to repeat himself. When he did, I told him his statement should be painted on library walls across the world because so many kids think that the be-all, end-all of answers is Wikipedia. I told him he had just made my day, and he smiled. He must’ve thought I was nuts, but I was happy.
Another thing that made me happy today was being able to help so many students get “on track” with their topic ideas. They have so many interesting topic ideas, and just being able to ask them questions about what they’d like to learn and/or what they think is important is a good way to get them to focus on narrowing down topics to possible thesis statements. A lot of “narrowing down” was successfully done today.
Keep on keeping on cluster 8-4!
Today was the second of the Dia de los Jovenes/Dia de los Libros (Day of Youth/Day of Books) week long celebration. I began the day with seeing the rest of Ms. Streisfeld’s 8th grade Spanish classes celebrate the literacy which Dia encourages by reading from the designated book selection in groups or individually. Again, they had the opportunity to read and learn about the Latino culture through English, Spanish, and Bilingual country books, biographies, picture books, fiction, poetry, art, graphic novels, fairy tales, folktales and much, much more. When her two classes left, I had a combined group of about 45+ students from both Ms. Hill’s and Ms. McNamara’s Spanish classes have a chance to learn about Dia and participate in reading activities with each other.
It was great to see students engaged in reading to each other or to themselves, laughing about what they read, and discussing it amongst themselves. A teacher who was passing through the library yesterday stopped me to say “Wow! The students look great reading to each other.” I couldn’t agree with her more, especially as they continued to look great today.
Great job everyone, as we continue to celebrate Pat Mora’s (Dia Founder) Semana de los Jovenes/Semana de los Libros (Week of Youth/Week of Books). Below are a few more photos of our Dia celebrators. Just click on a photo to see a larger version. At the end of the week, I’ll have a slideshow of all of our 8th grade participants.
Stay tuned for more Dia updates!
I returned from Spring Break with a bang! This week will be a very busy week teaching both Social Studies and Spanish classes all week. Let me explain…
I began by teaching Mr. Kraus’ 8-4 Social Studies classes all morning. I taught them the skills they’ll need to create a great research report, which included keyword searching, evaluating websites and advanced Google searching, as well as introductions to World Book Online and ABC CLIO: Issues. For the rest of the week, Mr. Kraus and I will oversee them as they work, and help them focus their research.
Following these sessions with Mr. Kraus’ students, I began a week long Dia de los Jovenes/Dia de los Libros: Day of Youth/Day of Books celebration with one of Ms. McKenna’s and two of Ms. Streisfeld’s 8th grade Spanish classes. Last year, I had visited all the 7th grade Spanish classes, reading students a bilingual story, showing them how to access the books they’d need to complete their projects as well as to learn the language, and showcased a portion of the books for them.This year, I will work with all the 8th grade Spanish classes to take that lesson one step further with Dia activities.
El Dia de los Jovenes is celebrated in schools and public libraries across the country. Known as Dia de los Ninos (Day of the Child) in elementary schools, Dia is called Dia de los Jovenes (Day of Youth) when celebrated in middle and high schools and is a celebration of Literacy linking children to books, culture and languages.
In the library, I set out about 150 books about Hispanic countries, as well as biographies of important Latinos, Spanish and English fiction books, graphic novels, Bilingual poems, and Bilingual picture books. Speaking in Spanish and English, I explained what Dia meant and why we were celebrating literacy. I explained that they would be able to sit anywhere they wanted and read alone, with a partner, or in a group of three. I also gave out a tri-fold brochure with reading tips, as well as website and book suggestions for celebrating Dia at home.
The students scattered throughout the room with their books and partners, and began to read aloud to each other or silently. It was wonderful to see so many of them engaged in exploring the literature that was available to them, as well as challenging themselves to read books written entirely in Spanish. At the end of the time, I gathered them back as a group to have them share something they learned or liked about one of the books they had read. I was very proud of how they worked.
During the rest of the week, I will see the rest of Ms. McKenna’s and Ms. Streisfeld’s classes, as well as those from Ms. Hill and Ms. McNamara. It will be a very busy week filled with research and literature, which is a good thing. Dia de los Jovenes (Day of Youth) is officially celebrated on April 30th, but Pollard students get to have a Semana de los Jovenes (Week of Youth). Keep up the good work 8th graders!
Tonight, METCO parents from all Needham’s schools came out for a night of food, entertainment and a tour of The Harlem Renaissance exhibit at Pollard. Ms. Smart, Pollard METCO Coordinator, had received a PTC grant for a traveling exhibition of The Harlem Renaissance which has been displayed in our hallways since early April. To celebrate the exhibit, Ms. Smart organized the evening so METCO Parents would have an opportunity to see the exhibit and learn more about The Harlem Renaissance.
Upon entering, parents and visitors came into the Media Center to watch multimedia displays I created using 7 computers as mini kiosks which showed looping powerpoint and keynote presentations about The Harlem Renaissance. In addition, a short documentary was projected in a small alcove labeled “The Little Theater” where visitors were invited to sit and enjoy the show. Since Ms. Smart had questions for a mini quiz, parents were actively involved as they watched the short movie and used the kiosks to try to find answers to the quiz questions. Others mingled and got a chance to know each other better as they looked at the displays and chatted.
After a period of time, everyone moved downstairs to the cafeteria where we were entertained by “The Malcolm Stuckey Trio” and the lovely voice of Ms. Gomes, 7th grade ELA teacher, who sang “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday. Next, three 7th grade students each gave a declamation which related to the evening’s theme. Finally, delicious food was consumed while the jazz trio played in the background.
It was a wonderful evening, full of great entertainment and learning. Thank you Ms. Smart for your initiative in bringing this exhibit to Pollard and unleashing a flood of information about The Harlem Renaissance. Thank you also to her elves who helped set up, take down, and clean up after the evening was done.
The slideshow of photos I created shows the great time we all had this evening.
Today was the annual 8th grade mini-conference STA (Students Take Action) Day. According to Ms. Berman, 8th grade Administrator, STA Day is “designed to educate, and increase awareness and sensitivity to a range of social issues that impact people’s lives today” with a focus on human and animal rights and social justice themes. The subject matter taught in the workshops relates to topics studied in their English, Social Studies, Science and Health classes, as well as to the service learning projects 8th graders work on in Needham and Boston.
Superintendent Dan Gutekanst was the Opening Speaker, giving a motivational speech on “Being Courageous.” During his talk he invited students to “try something new, fight ignorance, intolerance and injustice.” He urged them to “try something different, get uncomfortable, but don’t act recklessly or take crazy risks.” Superintendent Gutekanst quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, saying “you must do the thing you think you cannot do,” and went on to say they need to “do a little, but do good things as often as you can” reminding them that “courage involves risk or failure,” but they might have to “step outside of their comfort zone.”
At the end of the talk, students received a two-sided bookmark with “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost printed on one side and an excerpt from Marianne Williamson’s book “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles.” The audience was invited to silently read the quotes and ponder the words.
Afterwards, students headed out to attend at least two of the workshops. The morning ended with closing remarks from Ms. Driscoll, a Needham teacher currently on leave. Thank you to STA Day Coordinators Ms. Berman and Ms. Pickering, as well as to Student Presentation Coordinators Ms. Reardon and Ms. Cohen. Today was an excellent example of how students can benefit themselves and others by getting involved in their community and their world.
Below is a list of the workshops that were offered, along with a brief summary and the name of a featured organization, if applicable:
A Crisis in Education: South African Shine Center’s literacy organization – Showed students how they can help alleviate the crisis of available quality education for poor children throughout the world.
Sustainable Solutions to Ending Hunger and Poverty: Heifer International – Helped students build an awareness of global hunger and poverty, and demonstrated how they can make a difference in the lives of the economic poor.
Haiti’s Earthquake Disaster: The current medical and health conditions in Haiti and possible next steps were discussed, as well as information from an 11 day trip by Dr. Christian Arbelaez from the Department of Emergency Medicine.
The Power of Art: Focused on the art and music of political protest movements, and discussed how art in this context is used to reach a wider audience.
Supporting Animals in Need: Animal Advocacy & Animal Rights: MSPCA - Included information on how to advocate for animal rights, how to support shelters and animals in need, and how to spread the word to others.
Immigration: Immigrants have been appreciated and reviled, depending on the economic climate. America has had a consistent theme throughout its history of blaming immigrants in difficult times such as recession or war. Immigrants today (especially undocumented ones from Mexico) are currently taking the blame for America’s economic crisis, and students were asked to think critically about who is allowed to be an American.
Exploring Identity: With birth comes certain gendered roles and expectations. Through a discussion of the gendered world in which we live, students learned how these roles and expectations limit all of us.
What are Human Rights and Where Do They Come From?: Students were asked to think about the rights they believe in, and what would happen if my right interfered with your right.
Charity Water: Taught students about current water issues around the world, and how they can advocate for clean and safe water for those in need.
Crossing Borders: The Challenges and Rewards of the Needham-METCO Experience: A panel of Needham High students (both Boston and Needham residents) discussed their experiences crossing borders between urban and suburban communities.
Making a Difference in the Lives of Children in Ethiopia: Wide Horizons for Children, Inc. – Wide Horizon’s explained their work as an international adoption and child welfare organization in Ethiopia, and showed how to make a difference with just $1.
Socially Responsible Electronic Recycling: Needham Community Council - Students learned of environmentally responsible ways to dispose of their electronic devices and how to spread the word for Needham’s annual Electronic Recycling Fundraising Event.
Habitat for Humanity: Needham High students shared their work building houses in North Carolina, Kentucky and Alabama, and discussed how students can make a difference in the work to create affordable housing for all.
Today was Mr. Kraus’ 8-4 Social Studies classes turn to learn how to use NoodleTools online notecards. They will begin their research report after Spring break, but Mr. Kraus and I thought it would be important for them to spend some time learning the online tools before they actually begin their research. Thus, I worked with them today to introduce the online notecards, as well as give a reinforcement of NoodleBib citations.
After I demonstrated the steps needed to complete a citation from the Student Resource Center database, as well as how to create two notecards, and a notecard pile, the students began to work on their own using laptops. I circulated amongst them, correcting, encouraging, re-teaching, reinforcing, and helping.
I will continue working with the class tomorrow with a simultaneous group lesson to be sure everyone understands the format. At that time, those who have adequately completed their two cards, pile and citation will go on to explore the database for topic ideas, which I showed them how to do at the beginning of the lesson.
Have fun 8-4!
The Harlem Renaissance has come to Pollard! Ms. Smart, METCO Coordinator for Needham’s middle schools, has put a traveling exhibit about The Harlem Renaissance on display in Pollard’s hallways. The display showcases famous African Americans from this period in American history, along with famous quotes.
The Harlem Renaissance exhibit will be on display for two weeks, and will end with a reception at Pollard on April 15th from 6-8 pm. Needham staff members and parents are invited to join METCO parents for a time of music, food, art and literary performances. For more information, please contact Ms. Smart at Pollard.
By the way: Did you know that the Harlem Globetrotters also were formed at this time and that they did NOT come from Harlem? See if you can find where they came from, and why they were called the Harlem Globetrotters, as you look through these resources.
Resources about the Harlem Renaissance can be located at: