Monday, December 15, 2008


The Thinker, a bronze and marble sculture by Alexander Rodin in 1902.

We will often stretch our brains and think about big questions, big concepts, big ideas. I call this exercise, Thought of the Week. The idea of the HERO will be a major philosophical question that we will continue to ponder throughout the year. We will spend time reading about heroes, studying heroes, and looking at the hero mythology, which is called the monomyth (pronounced mawn-oh-mith). 

We will write our own heroic stories and apply what we have learned about heroes (the superhero, the mythical hero, and the real life hero) to our everyday lives. We will discover what it means to be a hero in our family, community, city, state, country and world. For now, all I want you to do is make a list of your heroes. Don't worry. Your hero(s) might change as the year goes along. That's no problem. 

QUESTION: Who is your hero(s)?
  1. Write down your list of hero(s) in your Literature Journal.
  2. Use your own definition of hero.
  3. There is no right or wrong answer.
  4. Most importantly, write down in your Lit Journal why you chose that hero(s). Defend your answer!
  5. Do not ask your friends for help. This is a solo project.
  6. Post your hero(s) as a comment on this blog (Due end of class, Wednesday)
  7. Post at least one comment about someone's else's list. The comment must use appropriate language and be constructive. (Due end of class, Friday.)
This exercise is worth 10 points. You get 5 points for making your list of hero(s). You get 5 points for justifying your reason(s) for choosing that hero(s). The points are all or nothing. If you do the work, you get the points. The following types of responses do not count for your justification. 
  • "I don't know."
  • "Because."
You have to try harder than that and actually think about your choices. If you like, you may draw a picture of your hero(s) in your Lit Journal. 


A very popular story, Amelia Rules! is a contemporary 
tale about growing up in today's world. 

You read the title correctly. In my classroom, I offer comic literature to you. I have spent several years studying the use of comic literature in the classroom. I have written my Master's thesis (fancy research paper that all graduate students complete on a subject they are interested in) on comics as a tool in the classroom. 

This version of Wind in the Willows is a 
comic adaptation of a classic story.

I have also presented at two conferences and written a chapter in a literacy textbook – all on the subject of comics in the classroom. We will use comics in all subjects, for class, and for fun.

Parents and Guardians, rest assured that the research suggests that comic literature has a strong benefit to student reading motivation and to comprehension. My use of comics is supported by research and I believe many of you will see changes in your student's reading motivation by the end of the year. Many of you will see changes within a month or so. 

Beowulf is the oldest piece of literature in the English language.
 This is a contemporary graphic novel adaptation of the ancient classic.

There are many reasons to use comic literature and as the year progresses, I will discuss them on this blog. I know this idea is very innovative, but I assure you that I have seen dramatic changes in students as I have used them over the past two years. 

Owly is an sweet, wordless tale of an owl and his friends.

For more information, contact me or see my comic education website, THE GRAPHIC CLASSROOM.


Our first week will consist mostly of creating our classroom Constitution – a set of norms or rules governing our room. We will also establish a Student Bill of Rights, so you know what you are entitled to. Lastly, we are going to develop daily procedures for almost everything we do. 

The most exciting part is that we will do all of this together, as a class, so that you are involved in your own education. When we are done, we will post the Constitution and Student Bill of Rights on our classroom website and in our room. 


Students and parents this is the official blog of our classroom known as, THE HALL OF HEROES. I am very excited for our first day, first week, and first month of classes. Fifth grade is a tough year in your education. The expectations are high as we are preparing you for life in middle school, high school and eventually college (if you choose that path). Regardless of where your life's journey takes you, this classroom is dedicated to preparing you for life where you are able to think critically, use reason, and make good decisions. 

You will work hard and you will succeed. Your parents and I are here to help you on your quest for knowledge and to give you to the tools you need to succeed. I am working hard to make sure your education is relevant, interesting and fun. That's right, I said fun. My expectation is that you work hard and have fun doing it, at least most of the time. 

I look forward to a fantastic year with you. 

(PLEASE NOTE: The only people who can post to this blog are the students and me. All students will be given a nickname. Using students' real names is strictly forbidden so as to protect their privacy. In order for a student to have access to technology, each parent or guardian must sign a technology waiver. Comments are moderated, which means I must approve all comments before they are posted. Of course, we are to only use school-appropriate language.)