Sunday, February 5, 2017

Shang Ya! Friendship Oath




Have your students use this ancient oath of friendship from China to write a friendship poem.



I have used this poem to inspire my class towards writing friendship poems for years, however for the past two weeks, I have had a university student from Xi'an China observing my fifth grade classroom as part of her studies. I decided to create easy to use templates for writing this poem, so that we can write the poems while she is still visiting our class. Usually, I do this for Valentine's Day, but we are doing it a bit earlier this year.


Shang Ya! Oath of Friendship Poetry Writing

Here is some examples of Friendship poems written by girls from the Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi, Kenya. On my third trip to Kenya in 2014, I taught a variety of poems for students in grades 5-12. I taught Shang Ya! to this group of girls. They also made the Chinese style artwork. I then photographed their artwork and used a green screen to record them reciting their poem in front of their art. I did a whole class in about two hours. It was very busy, but fun!



Some day I will publish the directions for making the Chinese inspired art work.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Shipwreck of the Thomas W. Lawson on Friday the 13th



The Thomas W. Lawson was the only seven masted schooner ever made. It was the world's first supertanker and it caused the world's first major oil spill when in sank off the coast of England during a storm in 1907. The day is sank was a Friday the 13th. The Thomas W. Lawson was named for one of the richest Americans of his day, who had previously written a fiction book titled "Friday the 13th" about a man who purposely sank the stock market on that day. He was quite an interesting man and you can see a video here that highlights, his life, his "Dreamworld" estate, and the boat bearing his name.





I became aware and interested in the Thomas W. Lawson after my dad built a wooden chest with a painting he did of the boat on the top for my son. Inside was a card with the story of the boat and the mention that my great-grandfather did the rigging of the Lawson at the Fore River Shipbuilding yard in Quincy, Ma.





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I decided to research and write a story about the Thomas W. Lawson for my fifth grade class. After my 30 plus years of teaching, it was the first time I wrote such an article for a class. You can find my article with vocabulary, close reading questions, and writing topics at Teachers Pay Teachers here. For a short time you can get it for 75% off (only $1). It is geared for students in 5th -7th grade.