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Putting the Pieces Together With My Students

Title – Putting the Pieces Together With My Students

By – Perry Thomas Lopez

Fellow Peers and Friends,

I had written a story for this great website a while ago. A few teachers have responded favorably to the last topic, so I decided to share a bit more.

I have been fortunate to work with another bunch of wonderful fifth graders. This year, we have been focusing our attention to non-fiction; book report writing.

Our theme this year is the Titanic and the Great White Shark. I have been researching these two topics on my own and brought back the research materials in order for my students to borrow and research the information. I have a system were the students sign out for the material and conduct their own research on the selected material.

The students were learning to paraphrase, to write research essays, and to use references. I provided the research material for the students that do not have anyone to accompany them to the library. Unfortunately, this is a reality! I developed pre-writing rubrics that showed the students how to set up their opening paragraphs, using a few questions about their topic, to catch the readers’ attention. They are currently working on their published pieces after several teacher/student conferences. The culminating activity will be constructing life-size replica of Great White Shark (with a mechanical rotating head) and a fifteen-foot model of the Titanic (showing a cross-section view of the hull).

I average about thirty-five hours per week, after school, researching appropriate topics for my students.

The results are rewarding. For instance, I brought my class to see a W. Shakespeare play, Romeo & Juliet. I asked my students to write a reflection about the play for homework. I had completed a few lessons about the background of this tragic love story prior to our visit. The following day, my students were all anxious to read their reflection to the rest of the class using the proper public speaking skills and essay format (this has been our focus since the beginning of the year). It was difficult to choose, but I selected Angelica. She read with such passion and poise that I was simply amazed. She executed all of the learned techniques and she also included a well-organized paper with numerous facts and details. I was so proud of this lovely ten-year-old student that I smiled with delight.

To experience a sensation such as this, is probably the best part of teaching. This is why we do the things that we do for students.

Angelica also read this essay to the principal who was equally thrilled. The essay will be traveling to our district as an exemplar.

Perry Thomas Lopez

Delighted Fifth Grade Teacher


Perry Thomas Lopez

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