I do think that learning the times tables helps make all math so much easier and that was my main goal for my times table test last week. Today when we had our second check-up or test, we found that there were three people who needed extra help in this area and when I asked for three volunteers to be mentors I was happy when I actually got seven people who wanted to take on that responsibility. Together we are going to work on the goal of having everybody learn their times tables by the end of the year.
Shakespeare continues to be a big focus in the class with the class just finishing viewing the Boisterous Bard in its entirety. The class was also incredibly excited at the opportunity of going to a Broadway show and seeing a Shakespearean play live. The play we will be seeing in January is from the Globe and is presented in traditional Globe style. We will be spending much of January going over lesson plans that had been provided by the Globe Theatre and reading parts of the play. This of course will involve a lot of history of England at that time as well as general information about the people, customs, and living conditions. More details about this trip will be revealed once I know how many people will be joining us. I do know however, because were getting back late, I am going to offer a sleepover at school for that night. When I go into the city on Thursday I will try to get tickets for the parents that are on the waiting list to go with us. We will also be viewing a HBO animated version of Richard the III and a film version. Today Susan gave out shortened scripts to the class of the play Romeo and Juliet. These scripts use Shakespeare’s actual words. We will be taking parts and reading through these script and we will see where this takes us. It seems to me that there is no limit to the learning opportunities in relationship to Shakespeare and his plays because my students’ interest continues to grow with each new exposure.
Another ongoing project that we have been working on is communications. All students are working on specific communication topics that they are doing independently. Each person has one or two areas to research and to do four specific things with as part of this project. During the month of December, we will have each person present their work which will include a poster, a report, drawings, and an interactive student activity which they have planned for the other members of the class. This work has brought history and science into our class work.
This week has been filled with enthusiasm and excitement that the class is generating in all areas. We finished our third reading book which everybody really enjoyed and have started our fourth book which is Who Moved My Cheese. Nicky also read the first chapter of The Hitchhiker’s Guide hoping that we will choose to read that book next. This week we also did amazing facts and extensions, and we read with the younger class with each student getting a new reading partner.
Our first New York trip was on Tuesday. Thank you to my five chaperones Sara, Ani, Marty, Kim, and Tom. I think this first trip was a great success despite the weather. This group were very responsible about being in the city, taking care of each other, and enjoying every moment of our time together. The Canstruction Exhibit was amazing, and we also got to see all the work being done in the World Trade Center area. I told the class as we look at the New World Trade Center building that architects were deciding that day at 11 o’clock if it was the tallest building in the US. (The World Trade Center Building, with its disputed top, was given the title of the tallest building replacing the Chicago Willis Building that reigned for 40 years in that position.) On our way to the Mathematics Museum each of the kids got on a City Bike at a docking station. Our tour of the museum started with an hour-long discussion and a participation session relating to of all things, knots. Today I’m going to have people in the class write up something about the trip and share that writing with the class.
Finally, I booked tickets for us to see a matinee performance of As You Like It at the Two River Theater in February.
We have been working on learning the parts of speech by doing a series of writing activities. We are reading the “Words are CATegorical” series, the two most recent being Hairy, Scary, Ordinary-What Is an Adjective? and Quirky, Jerky, Extra Perky-More About Adjectives. Then each child wrote down a noun and three adjectives on a blank piece of paper. They gave the paper to a classmate who then had to illustrate the text. We also did a writing on a Hershey Kiss. Each child was given a kiss and instructed to write a description of finding the object with the idea that they had never seen or tasted it before. The stories that resulted were fabulous. The children are proofreading and typing them, adding more descriptive language if necessary. They all read them out at a Writer’s Workshop.
Meeta has jumped right back in after her trip to India and started with her second Panchatantra group. She returned on Wed. last week and the children were so excited to have her back that she had an endless parade of students who greeted her with big smiles and hugs. She shared photos of Diwali celebrations in her home city of New Delhi. The children were very interested and ask lots of questions about life in India. We also looked at the map to see where Meeta’s family lives.
The children were also happy to have Helen back on Tuesday and did a music sharing session, recorder practice and prep for a holiday performance at the nursing home. The children enjoyed sharing their musical accomplishments and it gave them an opportunity to appreciate and support one another.
Despite the cold, we were able to go out on Monday to begin planting daffodils in our beautiful new beds which were completed over the weekend. Thanks again to Timmy for a gift that will provide us with a place to do our gardening for a long time to come. Our gardening focus has been on plant propagation and how plants survive the winter. We are learning about how bulbs store food and adapt to the cold in preparation for a rebirth in the spring. We will be doing winter sowing again this year. This has been so successful that we would like to expand it so please start saving you gallon milk/water containers for use as mini greenhouses.
Please make sure your child has a hat and gloves on days where the temperature is below freezing. They all love to be outside. My rule is that they must have their head and hands covered to go out when the weather is this cold.
I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend. The kids were all rested and ready to get to work on Monday. We have been hard at work finishing the Midsummer Night’s Dream puppets. They are just beautiful. If you have time, stop in and see the finished puppets. They are all lined up on top of the block shelf. In order to get ready for our show, we have been building the stage for our puppet show, working on the narration with Susan, and designing and painting the backdrops. Next week we will start the rehearsals for our puppet show, which will be performed the week of Thanksgiving.
In addition, we started a group geometric shape project. The kids cut out shapes from construction paper, and in small groups will create geometric shape creatures. These creatures will be the basis for a creative writing story that they will write together with their group.
Our nature show and tells have been so interesting. They have led to half hour discussions of the particular object or picture. It has been an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and ask lots of questions to find out more.
We also had music with Helen, and phys ed with Chris.
I look forward to seeing parents at the parent support group meeting this evening.