Our discussion of Ben and Me began this week with a short geography lesson and mapping exercise, as students worked on identifying the states in the northeastern US on an unlabeled map, and finding Benjamin Franklin's birthplace (Boston) and the setting for the story (Philadelphia), where Franklin spent much of his life. This was a challenging exercise for most of the students! I have provided the blank map (HERE) and would encourage students to repeat this exercise at home to become more familiar with our regional geography.
Students then discussed two of Ben's famous maxims from the first chapters of the book ("Waste not, want not" and "The laborer is worthy of his hire"), and gave their personal interpretations of the meanings of these sayings, with examples of how they apply in everyday life. We will continue to discuss the meaning and application of Ben's maxims as we encounter them throughout the book.
We then began our dictionary of vocabulary words together and I provided the class with three words from Chapters 1-4. Students should find two new vocabulary words (of their own choosing) from the assigned chapters each week and add them to their dictionary page. I have asked them to list: the word, the sentence from the book where the word is used (for context clues), their initial guess at the word meaning, and then the dictionary definition. The process of stopping to examine the context for word meaning, and then confirming with a dictionary is a great habit to reinforce for vocabulary development.
We concluded our class with a hands-on invention activity, having just read Chapter 2, where Ben and Amos together design and build the first Franklin Stove. Students were divided into two teams, given identical sets of everyday supplies (straw, dixie cup, paperclips, rubber bands, mini marshmallows, etc) and then allowed 15 minutes to invent anything they could think of! Teams were not allowed to see what the opposing team was building. Each team was then asked to carefully examine the opposing team's invention, and relay their assessment "telephone-style", with only one team member actually viewing the invention, then explaining to the next team member what they observed, and so on. The last team member provided the class with the final explanation (and drawing) of how the invention was constructed. Both teams ended with good overall explanations of the opposing teams invention, but also missed important aspects and details. A very good exercise for illustrating the importance of effective listening and communicating!
Assigned reading for next week: Chapters 5-10.