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posted: Thu, Dec 14th, 2017
Cassie Mensonides shows off her Instagram book report

#Instagram #bookreports

Who was the main character and how would you describe him or her?

In a few sentences, summarize the plot.

What are the main ideas?

What is the theme?

What event in the beginning of the book set the story in motion or was interesting?

Book reports used to be boring. Not anymore. 

The fifth-graders in Britt Henricksen and Dani Marangon’s class now create book reports in a more visual and fun way: by putting them into faux Instagram posts done as if created by the main characters. It’s a technique that combines the content of a traditional book report with the language of social media.

An Instagram book report contains four panels, with each panel containing an illustration of an important event from the story. 

The captions of the illustrations form the plot summaries. The hashtags are the main ideas and themes. The selfies are the main characters and help set up the points of view of the Instagram stories. “Throwback Thursday,” a popular social media hashtag referencing a past event, refers to an event at the start of the book.

It’s all there in a format that has become second nature to this touch-screen generation.

“The Instagram book reports incorporate so many language arts ideas and concepts in a way that’s relatable and fun,” said Ms. Henricksen. “The kids love it.”

So far, the students have each completed two Instagram book reports on stories that they’ve read together as a class. 

“It’s really universal, though,” said Ms. Marangon. “The technique can easily be adapted for something like social studies.”


Rockin' and rollin'

Students in all grades are preparing for the annual Rock-n-Roll-a-Thon fundraiser by learning dance steps in physical education class. With the instructional videos on YouTube projected on the wall of the gymnasium, phys ed teachers Brigitte Geiger and Mike Guil have been working with students on dances such as the Sid Shuffle from the movie “Ice Age,” the Cha Cha Slide, the Twist, and the Chicken Dance.

Ms. Geiger has also been working with a group of fifth-graders to design a fitness dance to Justin Timberlake's “Can't Stop the Feeling.” The fifth-graders will then teach the dance to the younger students in the school.

This year’s Rock-n-Roll-a-Thon will have a ‘50s theme with students dressing in classic sock hop attire for the event. Music will include tunes spanning the entire history of rock-n-roll and popular music, including everything from “Hound Dog” and “Rock ‘n Roll Is Here To Stay” all the way through “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” by American rapper Silento. 

The Rock-n-Roll-a-Thon is set for Friday, January 26.

Corporal Mike Russell and Officer Lonnie Elbaum present a LEAD lesson to fifth-graders

LEADing the way

Two police officers with the Mount Olive Police Department are helping CMS fifth-graders live safe, healthy, and drug-free lives

Corporal Mike Russell and Officer Lonnie Elbaum teach Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD), a drug prevention program taught in New Jersey schools. Working as a team, the policemen visit CMS’ fifth-grade classrooms once each week for 10 weeks, delivering targeted lessons designed to help students recognize and resist the pressures that influence them to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.

Standing in front of the classroom and working with kids, Corporal Russell and Officer Elbaum make the LEAD material come alive. Their rompish, lively style makes students sit up and pay attention yet always underscores the seriousness of the content. 

“My students love when Mike and Lonnie come into our classroom,” said fifth-grade teacher Alicia Arrighi. “They both have an incredible presence and together make an engaging team. They deliver the LEAD material in a way that’s both fun and real. My students respect and admire them a great deal, and also I think are very inspired by them.” 

At the core of the LEAD program is empowering students to value their own perceptions and feelings, and make choices that support drug-free values and good health. 

LEAD provides students with practical preventive strategies to say “no” to the pressures to use alcohol, tobacco, and drugs and has as one of its guiding mantras “Stop, Think, Act, and Reflect.” The program also emphasizes communication skills, self-esteem, empathy, decision-making, conflict resolution, and independence.

In a small ceremony set for January, the fifth-graders will receive certificates for completing LEAD.

Corporal Russell grew up in Mount Olive and is a graduate of Mount Olive High School’s Class of 2000.

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Chester M. Stephens Elementary School
99 Sunset Drive Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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Phone: 973.691.4002 Fax: 973.691.4030

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