This has been a week of new beginnings. We started our first full week of the new school year. We took our first run at a (mostly) normal weekly class schedule. We also started our first collaborative project.

One of the classes I have had the pleasure of working with over the past few school years is Mrs. Parisi’s group of 5th graders from Long Island, New York. We’ll be doing several long-distance collaborations with her class this year and we’re starting with an exploration of the the story and themes found in the book Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare. The Newberry Honor book takes place in the Maine wilderness of the 1760s. Matt, and eleven year old boy, has begun an adventure by helping his father clear a homestead, build a log house, and plant crops. Now, Matt’s father has left him in charge of the solitary cabin and is returning to Massachusetts to collect Matt’s mom, sister, and the newborn baby. Matt must show tremendous maturity and courage as he guards the family’s new home and keeps the crops alive.

As we read through the book, we’ll pause every few chapters and make some predictions about what students think might happen next in the story. Eventually, DreamExtreme and Long Island students will work in collaborative groups to create projects which explore the major themes of the book. Today, our 5th graders made very short blog posts about what they think might happen in Chapter Two of Sign of the Beaver: DreamExtreme KidBlogs. Also, check out the project wiki for a look at what we’ll be doing next.

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