Birmingham Historical Tour
I am thankful for the beautiful weather we had for our field trip this week. What a day of learning, fun and exercise. It isn’t often that people speak of laughter when talking about history, but we had some as we learned in the Hunter House. We burned some calories as we walked between historical sites of Birmingham. Ask your child what the highlight of the day was. I’m sure they will be able to tell you or even show you how different life was for settlers in Birmingham. The name Baldwin Library will probably always conjure images of this remarkable woman. Your child could tell you how she made a difference in Birmingham–beyond the library.
Inside the Hunter House
Cornerstone of Baldwin High School
It’s so exciting to see students improve as they have repeated practice of a task. That is one reason I love Whole Brain Teaching. We have been playing “The Writing Game,” in which students learn to write increasingly complex pieces of writing while setting and breaking records against themselves. The game we played this week is called Topic Sentence Paragraph.
In this game, first students see the structure and examples of the paragraph modeled by the teacher. (Stimulating the visual cortex and Werneke’s area of the brain.) Next, with a partner they use the puzzle sheet on which there is a sentence frame to reinforce the structure. Starting from the first topic, Each partner practices speaking a paragraph aloud (Broca’s area) to his/her partner, using gestures (motor cortex) for upper case letters, conjunctions, end-marks and other conventions. The paragraph begins with a sentence containing the conjunction “and”–so there are two subtopics in the first sentence. Then, it is followed by a sentence providing support for each idea in the topic sentence.
A student speak these paragraphs to his/her partner for 2.5 minutes and then they switch. Some students might finish one, while others will finish three in the same amount of time. Each student has a record sheet–a personal record of growth. They make their way through a list of over 50 topics from “favorite fruit” to “friends.” After the 5 minutes, the class writes the last spoken paragraph. At the sound of the buzzer they pick up a colored pencil and use proofreading marks to edit for upper case letters, spelling and end marks.
Once a student achieves mastery of that paragraph (Grammatically correct with complete sentences and proper punctuation), they move up on the Super Improvers Team, which they are very excited about (involving the amygdala) . Some Starters are soon to become Captains and assume more responsibility in the class while enjoying more privilege.
During the last week or so, this game was played and followed by a written paragraph. By the end of the week, a number of students qualified to start working on the Beginner Essay. By involving (at least) 5 different parts of the brain, students are engaged and learning. I’m excited to see how their writing improves during this last month is over. It’s not over ’til it’s over.