Highlights from our Visit to the Nevada Capitol

Our last field trip for the year was to the Nevada Capitol. We started with a tour of the capitol and quickly moved through 150 years of history including a look at the first Supreme Court, the first legislative chamber and a visit to the museum. This was followed by a tour of the Legislature and a chance to see first-hand the passage of several bills. Moreover, Assemblywoman Jill Tolles was able to visit with the students and share some of her experiences.

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Our First Week Working With Shakespeare

We finished our first week working with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Our initial discussions focused on understanding the historical context in which Shakespeare worked and who Shakespeare was. We unpacked the language of Shakespeare and practiced reading key pieces of dialogue with a focus on iambic pentameter.

This initial work has allowed us to read through the first two scenes in Act I. The students have been doggedly persistent and things have gone as well as we could have hoped.

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Our Pro Se Court

Today we did our first Pro Se Court. This was the culmination of reading through four different sources on zoos and identifying evidence to support claims about the value of zoos. All of the source material (here) is written at the 7th grade level and this required students to navigate complex text and work with challenging vocabulary.

The term pro se is Latin and means “for oneself” or “on one’s own behalf.” Students became defendants, prosecutors, or justices before creating triads to allow for rich discussions.

Ultimately the justices ruled 6 to 3 in favor of the defendants; that is, zoos were causing greater harm than good.

Gamifying Our SBAC Test Preparation

Today students worked with https://quizizz.com/ to assist with our preparation for Nevada’s state test. Quizzizz unlocks gamification and opportunities to increase engagement with traditionally dry material.

With Quizizz, students answer questions and receive points for correct and quickly entered responses. Students can see the top performers but not the scores or names of anyone who might have struggled. (Admittedly, we did sneak in a quiz on Disney after some rigorous work with our 5th grade standards.)

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Using the Discussion Strategy, Fishbowl

Today we used the discussion strategy “Fishbowl” to debate whether using bottled water was more positive or negative. The students read two articles (here) and annotated the pieces looking for evidence to support one position or the other. Then they discussed both articles free of any valued added statements; instead, attention was pointed to finding evidence.

The students positioned themselves around a fishbowl with four students in the middle. Students would share a point, debate the point, and if they couldn’t find evidence or didn’t have a good argument, they would tap someone from outside the fishbowl to take over for them.

The annotating, discussion and debate will help us with our writing in which students have to support a super claim.

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