And the LEGO Oscars go to...

Friday, April 3, 2015

     Those of you who know me know that I love LEGOs.  I have been patiently waiting for a cinematic masterpiece to be created since the Oscars this January, because of the LEGO Oscar that was given out that night.  The movie has arrived!  

It is LEGO Oscar time.

The Oscar for Best Music Video about the Revolutionary War Goes To:
Hiawatha 4th grade students!!!
Watch it here:

The Oscar for Best Team Collaboration Within a Revolutionary War Thematic Unit Goes To:

Our fantastic 4th grade teachers, and our ESL teacher too!

The Oscar for Best Original Lyrics Goes To:
Lori Horne!

She used the song Royals, by Lorde, but re-wrote the lyrics to include major events leading up to the Revolutionary War.  I will never be able to sing the original song again.  Those fourth grade voices will always be loud and clear.

The Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role Goes To:
King George has never been played by a better Husky.  

The Oscar for Best Props Goes To:
The visual images used in the backdrops of the scenes, thanks to green screen technology!

     In all seriousness, I love this project for so many reasons.  We have been working on building up our thematic units this year so that they are more balanced literacy units that just straight social studies or science units.  We want the students to be creators of knowledge, not just simply receivers of knowledge.  Hiawatha teachers want joyful learning that lasts a lifetime.

     At first glance, it looks like a fun music video that was created by teachers.  The song was written by teachers, the video was ultimately produced by teachers.  The kids sang the song, and acted it out, but the script and lyrics were not theirs.  So, was this really creation of knowledge, or receiving knowledge?

     It depends on what part of the unit this is.  

     The fourth grade is currently front loading information about the Revolutionary War.  They have been close reading images, building vocabulary, learning about major events, and doing some hands on experiences like a Boston Massacre simulation in 4HO.  
     I have a video of some students talking about the cause of the Boston Massacre after looking at some sources like a detective to see who was really responsible for this event.  They were listening to each other, having conversations about points found in the different artifacts, and built on each others ideas.  Ultimately, a little boy came to this conclusion. 
     "So I am going for both sides.  There is no equal.  There is no unfair.  Wait..."
     "They both just want to get equal in their own way, " another student continued for him.
     I think these students are starting to really explore the answers to their Essential Question with the lens of the Boston Massacre.

     There was even an all girls book club, led by our ESL teacher Lucy Carrera, about a 10 year old girl who disguised herself as a boy to fight in the war.  They call them themselves the Revolutionary Ladies.  What a meaningful way to connect to the time period.

     This unit has weaved visual literacy, different perspectives, note taking using text evidence, conversations around the events, acting, singing, close reading song lyrics, and big ideas around the essential question, "Why did the colonists go to war?"  But, this is just the beginning of the unit.  They are doing this now to front load their next unit in Writing Workshop.  The Revolutionary War will be the topic of Bringing History to Life: Information Writing.  To be honest, conversations like those also are building their book clubs without even planning it.  Accountable talk in action.  

     If our students have any chance of writing about a historical topic, they almost have to live it first. I think our fourth grade teachers may have figured that out.  


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