Honors English 10 Throws a Wedding!
Honors English 10 students recently finished a unit focusing on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Mrs. Cristina Toflinski explained that while students usually read Romeo and Juliet in freshmen English, this year’s sophomores had never had the Shakespeare experience and she felt it necessary to introduce them to the readings of Shakespeare prior to English 11 and 12 where they will be reading some of the more challenging Shakespeare plays.
Students did an abundance of reading in class and completed many writings in which they took on the persona of one of the characters in the play. However, one of the most memorable aspects of the unit was the Socratic Seminar that took place after reading the last act. Mrs. Toflinski explained that Socratic Seminars are new to students this year.
Students spend at least one day prepping for the seminar. They are given several open-ended questions that will be addressed during the seminar. Their job is to come up with responses along with specific evidence from the text and real-world connections that can be used to express their thoughts during the activity. The day of the seminar, the classroom is set up with all of the desks in a circle. Mrs. Toflinski acts as a facilitator who asks the initial questions and makes sure the students stay on track. However, the students are in charge of the discussion. They do not raise hands, but listen carefully, take turns responding, and keep the conversation going. Mrs. Toflinski added, “Socratic Seminars are different from debates because there is no right answer. The idea is for students to express different ideas and perhaps see new and different perspectives.” Mrs. Toflinski said that Socratic Seminars are important in practicing the speaking and listening standards. She added that students’ experiences in their other classes, especially speech/debate have helped them be successful with this class activity. She expressed that students have really enjoyed these seminars and even Mr. Dickey has gotten in on the fun, participating in the seminars with the students!
The culminating activity for the Romeo and Juliet unit was to rewrite history and throw a wedding for Romeo and Juliet. Students were split into five different groups which consisted of creating a guest list and table settings for 100 people, creating a menu and fashion for the event, planning the ceremony and writing appropriate vows, planning music and games for the event, and looking at the impact of Romeo and Juliet’s love story throughout pop culture. Each task included research and a class presentation. Some students chose to act out their presentation while others made a scrapbook, and still others used Google Slide presentations. “I’ve always wanted to do this project, but have never had the right opportunity until now. It was great fun to see the students working together, brainstorming, researching, and creating,” said Mrs. Toflinski.
Mrs. Toflinski ended by stating that she has taught Romeo and Juliet for many years, but this was by far her favorite experience teaching the play. She added, “I’ve never had the opportunity to teach a strictly honors course until this school year. I’ve got a great group of students in Honors English 10, and no matter what crazy challenge I come up with, they are always up to the task!”
Fractions and Mental Math Mondays with Mrs. Wilson
Students in Mrs. Gayle Wilson’s sixth grade math class are currently studying fractions. Students are building on their previous knowledge of fractions to multiply and divide fractions. These students will end the chapter with a culminating activity using the skills they mastered throughout the unit. Mrs. Wilson explained that students are progressing through the self-directed activities including video lessons, internet activities, IXL, and their workbooks. Students are working hard to be accountable for their own learning. They begin with a brief lesson, followed by practice and applying the skill to word problems.
Mrs. Wilson stated that students are enjoying working at their own pace to complete the activities. They are able to seek guidance from the classroom teacher, Internet, or classroom sources, and their peers. Mrs. Wilson added, “It is exciting to hear students discuss how they did their work and explain to another student how to perform a particular task.”
Additionally, students really look forward to “Mental Math Mondays!” On Mondays students are given 10 questions they solve using their mental math skills. Mrs. Wilson explained, “They love to compete against each other to see who will get the most questions correct.” The sixth graders are given opportunities to group problem solve each day with questions in the categories of Fraction Action, Probability Pizzazz, Geometry Gems, Solve This, and Mathematically Speaking. Finally, the sixth graders complete weekly reviews to help keep their skills sharp. Students have been “Counting Down” the weeks until the state tests in April!