This week we continued to read Fahrenheit 451, and we are now well over halfway through the book. As a class we have discussed some of the ideas of books being replaced by more visual and instant methods of communication such as a computer. We have also discussed one of the main concepts of the book that everybody is happy because they don’t know enough to worry about anything.
Another new item on our schedule is the packets of history that each student received and will research with the end purpose of producing pages for a student made collaborative book on the history of the world from 4000 BC to the present day. I have already talked to students about the reasons for World War II, the Reformation and Martin Luther, and the culture in early Japan and China. This will be an ongoing project that should last for 4 to 6 weeks or maybe to the end of the year. Our main resources for this project are the books: SCHOLASTICS BOOK OF WORLD HISTORY FROM 4000 BC TO THE PRESENT TIME, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S VISUAL HISTORY OF THE WORLD, AND WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA. In addition to Sara and I working with the students on this project, this is an excellent opportunity for parents to also work with their children. The only criteria is that the work is written or drawn on 8 ½ x 14 sheets of paper and that it is well researched and innovatively presented. Much of this history is very interesting and exciting, as anything dealing with human relations seems to be. I want all students to show me what they can personally do with help when needed or available. They should use several resource materials and think of many ways of presenting that in their book pages. (This is similar to the communication country-state project in the fact that it is work each student needs to process and present for the benefit of others in the class that are looking up different information to be presented.)
This week we also received our new shipment of Key Curriculum books. As J and A were putting them on the shelves, they noticed that they seemed much lighter. They have reduced the stock of the paper to about half of what it was previously. The students in the class are completely invested in what they are doing including being distressed that the books were now of flimsier quality.
Schedules also included Amazing facts and one extension, math workbook pages, finishing As You Like reviews, a group reading of the Boisterous Bard, and an art assignment of creating eyes of a famous person, and making Valentine boxes.
We had a successful writing assignment using my Playbill collection. Each student chose a playbill and just from the title of the play and the pictures on the playbill was to create their own story of what that play might be about. The writings have been very entertaining and I have told the class what I can remember about the actual play once they read their stories. This is the beginning of my project on Playbills which I had planned to do sometime this year. I also have one other project which I had planned for this year and have not gotten to because of all of our work on Shakespeare and that is using the wonderful play, Peter and the Starcatchers.
As a teacher, I try to be very in tune with students’ interests and the work that is getting them excited and involved. So even though I have always enjoyed Shakespeare it is not my interest that continues to propel this project forward but my students’ involvement and enjoyment of his plays. This work has not only been about the plays, but has gone into the history of the time period, interest in the Kings and Queens of England, and enriched all of our creative writings.
There are plans in the works for two Projects to be returning to the older class under the guidance of C and E. C has agreed to head the rebirth of the newspaper and E the literary edition. I am thrilled about this.
Our 4th New York trip will be centered on the Tenement Museum. More info next week.
Happy Valentine’s to all. My class was very happy to have school today as they were looking forward to sharing their valentines. They made sure that children that were not here had boxes made and/or filled. In typical New School fashion, everything that had been planned for the week was squeezed into a very happy and busy day. Today we exchanged valentines, had a full day of math workshop, celebrated R’s birthday, had pizza day and delicious soup from Letty and Elise, bread from William, candy from Caroline and started auditions with Susan for the play. Thank you to everyone who added to our Valentine’s Day.
I have asked Middle Classers to explore the Doodle for Google website over the break and to start thinking about ideas that could represent the theme. We began talking about the contest, brainstorming and doing a variety of activities to cultivate the free flow and exchange of ideas and looking at the previous submissions. I will be sending home the blank forms when we return from break for parents to sign as each child needs parent permission to enter the contest. We have a relatively short time to work on this and I will need the forms returned by March 11th. Every child will participate in all the activities whether or not they are entering the contest. My focus for this activity is for students to learn how to communicate an idea in a concise way and to be able to represent it visually.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Having 3 days in a row of school this week was great! The kids were able to get back into the routine. It is very hard for them when the week is broken up.
The bird project is just about finished. The kids are finishing their art projects. They look wonderful! I can’t wait until everything is displayed so that we can invite all of the parents to see the hard work the kids have put into this project. We will plan a day after break to have a presentation for parents.
Unfortunately, we were unable to go to my house for our last bird count today. Every little classer has done an amazing job identifying, counting, and helping to summarize and post our counts to Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I’m so proud of them. They have really become scientists.
After break, we will be starting a new project about Shakespeare and the time period in which he lived, and will of course include more about his plays. This will tie in with the whole school play, The Boisterous Bard, which we will be working on between February break and April.
It has been great talking to parents at conferences. I’m sorry that so many had to be cancelled because of the weather. We will be rescheduling these for after the break. I hope that the parents that I have met with have a better understanding of the work the little class has been doing, and an understanding of how their own child is doing. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me and let me know.
I want to thank all of the parents who were able to attend the conflict resolution meeting on Wednesday evening. I think it was important to gain a more thorough understanding of how conflict is dealt with at the New School on a daily basis, and how parents can help with the process.
We had a fun and exciting Valentine’s Day party this afternoon with games and dancing and an art project.
Hope you all have a relaxing and fun filled break!