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Prince Rupert students take a bite out of writing skills at ‘Paragraph Party’

Conrad Elementary and Prince Rupert Middle School students celebrate mentorship collaboration

Paragraph sandwiches and analysis cake created a hunger for young student writers at Prince Rupert Middle School and Conrad Elementary on Dec. 6.

The “Paragraph Party” was a unique opportunity for students in Grade 7 to mentor those in Grade 4. Students took a bite out of the writing process by using bread, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and green meat as physical metaphors for different kinds of sentences in a typical paragraph.

The mid-year celebration of the peer-mentorship program had the older students showing examples of paragraphs used in recent project boards from literacy forest walks the classes have been taking together. They have been documenting their observations about living and non-living things in the forests, collecting data, using math skills and writing about their learning as they progress.

The older students teach how to write and help the younger students with reading. The younger students provide opportunities for older students to teach and are learning through the process.

“We take photos of the teaching and learning on the literacy forest walks,” Anna-Marie Prohaska Grade 4 teacher, said.

“We then post the photos on bulletin boards at school and students also keep the photos in their learning journal. This helps build stronger relationships and provides more ways to document and write about what students see and do in the forest,” Prohaska explained.

Tom Kertes Grade 7 teacher, said it is a great way for the students to become leaders and help others. “Our students learn what they are teaching first, so this provides incentive and also real-world application. The Grade 4 students are learning about the forest. The Grade 7 students are learning about paragraphs so that they can teach how to write a paragraph as the Grade 4 student is applying it to their study in the forest.”

After the sandwich making, students were able to sample an “Analysis Cake” made out of graham cracker crust, pudding, and whipped cream, complete with a cherry on top. The making of the cake served as a lesson in the layers of organization and analysis used in writing and research.

“The students at Conrad are excited to get to go to the middle school and to see their photos on the walls of the school, read about their forest walks, and see examples of the work of Grade 7 students at PRMS,” Prohaska said. “They are most excited to learn what a paragraph sandwich tastes like and to try levels of analysis cake.”

Duane Jackson, Indigenous Relations Associate with Prince Rupert Port Authority attended the function as a guest speaker to encourage the student’s love of writing and share his own inspiration, which came from his Grade 4 teacher.

“I do a lot of writing and I think it is really important to bring across to young people to be expressive and to be positive in how they express themselves. I think it’s far more important how a young person feels about something than it is about insisting that something be in their head,” Jackson told The Northern View.

The guest speaker said having a relationship at a certain level with young writers is integral and often missed.

“To take a young person along and accompany them on their journey and then listen to how they feel about it, and then share with them those parts of your journey that you are on and share with them those pieces [is important],” he said.

“The idea of writing is storytelling. Storytelling is something my people have been doing for a while. I think it’s the perfect form of teaching.”

K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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