Five (or four or three) for Friday or Saturday. Okay, maybe Sunday | Mentoring in the Middle

Five (or four or three) for Friday or Saturday. Okay, maybe Sunday

What a fun week this has been!  Are you like me and you just feel a huge weight off your shoulders when state testing is over?

We've been creating Mars landers this week, in conjunction with a story we're about to start reading about Sojourner, the first lander on Mars.  I get TOTALLY jazzed up about astronomy, so we spent tons of time looking at video clips of outer space, writing really huge numbers down to get a sense of size, and just talking about how amazing our universe is!

Now their challenge is to create a lander that will reach "Mars" without destroying its payload.  Students practice with a small plastic egg, but the real payload is a raw egg in a baggie.  I have some rules for them to follow regarding the size of their landers, but for the most part, they get to design and create what they think will be most effective.  Look at what they came up with!

We have always run a tutorial period, where we work with students who need remediation or enrichment.  It's also the time when band, chorus, and orchestra meet, so there are some challenges to getting to students when we need to, but for the most part, it works pretty well.  Starting in January, I met with one group of students who needed some reading comprehension review, but in a way that pushed them beyond where they were.  I created the "Country Project" which I wrote about in an earlier post.  We spent a few days looking at Google Earth and maps, and figuring out where countries were.  Then, students picked a country they knew very little about, and for which we had a book in the library (they had close to 150 to choose from.)  Reading those books, the students have been questioning, comparing and contrasting, reading chapters and coming up with main ideas and details, looking at non-fiction text structure, learning phrases in their language, and comparing the weather in their country to the weather at our school.

Sweet potato cakes from Zambia
But the really cool thing is that at the end of the books, they have recipes.  And the students asked if we could have a meal, with everyone contributing food from their country.  What a great idea!  These kids were studying places as unfamiliar as Laos, Madagascar, and Yemen, as well as more familiar places like China, Italy, or Ireland.  So I was thrilled that they wanted to do this.

Last week, we had our meal, and what a treat it was!  Now, I gave my iPad to a student to take some pictures when I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off  helping students warm their meals and set them up, so there weren't as many pictures of the food as I'd hoped for.  And once we sat down - at a huge "family" table - we'd pushed all the tables together so we all sat together - guess who forgot to take a picture?  Yup, that would be me.      

Some of the desserts - yum!
What a blast!  The kids told me this was the best meal they'd ever had, and I was so pleased that some of my self-professed picky eaters tried a lot of foods.  Isn't it wonderful to discover that even though foods look and smell differently than what we're used to, they still taste delicious?!  If I can make the world seem a little friendlier, a little more welcoming, then I feel like I've accomplished something great with them.

Okay.  So that was only two for Sunday.  Instead of five for Friday.  That's all I can muster tonight.

Have a great week!

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