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Themes in the Upper Elementary Classroom {Guest Post}

Enjoy some fun from some friends of mine this week (with the Interactive Notebook Linky by me) as I am away training some Georgia teachers!

First up is my Sparkly Ninja friend… Mr. Hughes!

Greetings Everyone!

I was thrilled when my good friend 4mulaFun asked me to guest post here. So you get to hear from me while she is off adventuring and doing workshops and such!

Button (Created by MrHughes)

Let me start by introducing myself. You may know me as MrHughes or Created by MrHughes on the “web”. I am an upper elementary teacher, teaching computers for 1 year, 5th for 3 years, and 6th for 7 years before becoming the language arts (writing) and science teacher for the past two years to the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students.

Phew! Add to that my six children and amazing wife, and you have one interesting daily adventure. I definitely don’t find myself saying anymore is that “there is nothing to do”. I am either playing with my 2 year old or being Taxi dad to my 13 year old, and everything in between. I LOVE IT! WAHOO!

Created By Mr. Hughes Family Photo
The past week I headed back to the trenches, as they say. I am okay with going “back”. I miss being able to work on personal projects at home and spending time with my children, but nothing beats working with kiddos and watching them get a concept or skill!

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time during the summer months pondering a good theme to use. With my homeroom class being the 6th grade, I try to be less cutesy. In the past I have done Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Looney Tunes, and others. These were all successful and fun. Last year, because I had an especially hard class, I wanted to choose my theme a bit more carefully this year. After bouncing around a lot of ideas, my administrator sent me a song that she thought I might enjoy. Turns out she was right! I DID enjoy it. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I based my theme off of it!

This year my classroom theme is BRAVE! I based it on the SONG by Sara Bareilles. This song has the most amazing lyrics, and I knew that I wanted to work with my students on being “BRAVE“.

I started by making a bulletin board in the hallway. (Well, actually, in full disclosure, my wife makes pretty much everything I use. Glad she loves me!) On the board, we wrote “I wanna see you be BRAVE!”.

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I added the students names around it. Then we wrote words and phrases from the song around the board. I like how it turned out, I just wish the words would have stood out better. We have used chalk in the past but decided to use white crayon this year because the students smear the chalk during recess- little stinkers!

Then, inside my room, we made another board. She wrote BRAVE vertically in white crayon outlined in white chalk. It really made it stand out. I originally covered the rest of the words that I choose for each letter to represent with black paper so the students didn’t even know there were words there.

I knew I wanted to do a lyric study with my students on the first day of school. They needed to KNOW the power of the words in this song. We listened to the song (just the song), and they made notes of words or phrases that really stood out to them.

We shared and discussed what they gleaned from the song.

Next we watched a video version. I chose not to use the original video linked above, as I felt the dancing would distract them from what the song was saying. After all, they are 6th graders. There is a LYRICAL version that I used. Again, they listened and made notes on words or phrases that stuck in their minds. Again, they shared with a partner and with the class.

For the final listen, I handed them a lyric sheet and they highlighted words and phrases that really stuck out to them. For the final time we shared their findings.

Next, I handed out a collection sheet with BRAVE down the side of the page. Students worked alone or together to gather words that described the class and started with that letter. So, for “B”, they wrote words like Brilliant.

After they had good-sized collections, I unveiled MY words for BRAVE.

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 These are the words I wanted them to have for goals this year. They added those words to their collections.

To end the activity, I gave them a 1/2 sheet with BRAVE down the side and they created mini-boards with the words THEY thought would work well for our class this year.

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 I hung those up next to the class words. (You can see that a few students still need to finish… ha ha).

I am excited to use this THEME this year. I have already selected 3 more songs that we will do a lyric study on each month for the next three months that support the idea of BRAVE.

What about you? What is your theme?

Go on, don’t be shy- SHARE!

Cheers (and thank you to 4mulaFun for having me)-
Mr. Hughes

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