Our school is participating in the One School, One Book program this year. Last week every student at our school received a copy of the book The World According to Humphrey, by Betty J. Birney, and now they are reading it at home with their families. Our friends in Mrs. Moore’s class made a trailer introducing the book:
In our classes this year we have spent a lot of time talking about authors—the real people who write the text we read. Authors make choices as they are writing that affect what we see in their final text. We have been practicing making writing choices ourselves, as we have written narratives, informational text, persuasive essays, and now as we are writing fairy tales.
We have been lucky enough to hear from some famous authors by Skype, videoconference and webcast. Every time we do this we listen for advice about how we can make our own writing better. Here is some of the good advice we have heard.
During the Global Read Aloud, the author of the Marty McGuire, Kate Messner, kindly agreed to Skype with our class. We asked her all kinds of questions about the writing process. She showed us her writer’s notebook, where she writes her ideas and first drafts, and even showed us a draft of her newest book with some of the early illustrations. One of our classmates asked her, “What do you do if you are stuck and can’t think of anything else to write about?” Her advice was,
Sometimes I have to walk away from a project and write something completely different for a while, but usually what happens when I get stuck is I give myself permission to write any old thing, without worrying about whether it’s good or not. I find that usually what comes out is just fine. It’s going to need to be revised later, but if I just keep writing I can get my ideas going again.
In January we participated in a worldwide event called Reading Discovery which was broadcast from the George Bush Library in Houston. Along with kids from all over the world, we listened to former First Lady Barbara Bush, who has written several books, talk about the importance of reading and writing. When a student in another class asked her what kinds of books you should read if you want to become an author, she said,
All kinds of books! If you want to write about history, read about history. When I was a little girl all I wanted to read about was dogs, and when I grew up I wrote a book about dogs! Read about what interests you.
We watched a live webcast from New York City featuring two of our favorite authors, Jeff Kinney (who writes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series) and Dav Pilkey (who writes the Captain Underpants series). Both of them are authors and illustrators, so we wondered what they thought was the most important part of their work, the text or the pictures. We were surprised to hear both of them say they both put the words first. We thought Jeff Kinney’s process was interesting:
I sit on the couch with a blanket over my head so I won’t get distracted by anything, I try not to fall asleep, and then I think of jokes…I write down a bunch of jokes and then I think of the story.
The whole webcast was fun to watch. You can watch it here:
We all finished the story they started in the smash-up. Here is one of our classmate’s illustrations of the ending of the story:
Who are your favorite authors?
If you could ask your favorite author for some writing advice, what would your question be?
The 2014 Iditarod Champion is…Dallas Seavey! Congratulations, Dallas!
We wrote in the last post that the end of the race would probably be very close, and it was! The first and second place finishers were less than three minutes apart.
The ending of the race was extremely dramatic and exciting. You can read about it on the Teacher on the Trail Blog: Photo Finish! If you are in Mrs. Hamman’s class, after you read the article, leave a comment on our blog with the answers to these two questions:
1. Who came in second in the race?
2. What happened to Jeff King’s team?
Here is a news video explaining how the finish of the race became so close.
Our class is on Spring Break this upcoming week. Before the break we were eagerly following the Iditarod and checking the race standings several times a day. We will find out the winner while we are on our break, and I will post the results here. As I write this our class musher, Jeff King, is in second place! Three of our other nominees (Aliy Zirkle, Martin Buser and Robert Sorlie) are in the top 10. It looks like it will be a very close and exciting finish this year!
While we are waiting to find out who wins, check out this amazing video shot by Jeff King a few days ago. We learned that Mr. King is known as an innovator in the mushing community, and his most recent idea is using a GoPro camera to film his races. In this video you can really see what it’s like to race behind a powerful team of sled dogs!
What is your favorite part of this video?
If you had a GoPro camera, what would you film with it?
February 24, 2014
by Mrs. Hamman's Class 0 comments
Like last year, our study of the Iditarod began with a Skype call with a ranger from Denali National Park. She taught us about the adaptations that make sled dogs able to travel over 1,000 miles through the Alaskan wilderness.
This year our class learned about both the Junior Iditarod and the Iditarod. Here is a comparison we made of the two races using the Venn Diagram App (click to enlarge).
We researched all the mushers in the race and each of our groups picked a favorite to present to the class. Then we tried to persuade others to vote for our choice. We voted and our class choice for our 2014 musher is Jeff King!
Here are some facts we learned about Jeff King:
He has won the Iditarod 4 times.
In 2013 he came in third place.
He and his family live in Denali National Park.
He is an inventor who creates things to make mushing more comfortable.
He is known as a great storyteller.
The Iditarod starts on March 1. We can’t wait to see who wins!
Here are some pictures of the activities we’ve done while studying the Iditarod.