In the spring of 2013, after California public school teacher Melissa Azevada piloted Africa is My Home with her 4th and 5th grade students, I did a Skype visit with them.
On her class blog Melissa described the way the class approached the book.
Our journey through the book has been a wonderful experience. We have been reading the book as a whole class. The class is separated into 5 groups, since we have five books to share. Each day we read together and enter in our interactive journal. Each night, a specific group creates a comment based on their journal. Some times, the group has two prompts to choose from. So far, our prompts have been:
Group 1: Summarize pages 1-5/ write a caption for page 3
Group 2: How did Ms. Edinger use powerful language to make the story “come alive”? /What new experiences did she have?
Group 3: Why was it fair/unfair for Cinque to go on trial?
Group 4: Describe her pleasant experiences
Group 5: After the court announced its decision, she probably felt…
Make a prediction about her return home.
After finishing the book, Melissa had the students do this culminating project:
The students summarized the book in 14 key events. The events were then “judged” on a number line of -5 to +5. A +5 event would be something that was great! The -5 event would be something that was absolutely horrible. Each student’s project is different depending on how they viewed the event. The project helps bring in math standards also.
The following video created by the district provides a good sense of our Skype visit and the varied learning that took place. My great thanks to Melissa, Gail Desler, and all the others involved in this experience. It was terrific!