This week I gave out an entire set of handouts. Six Grammar sheet covering nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and four different types of sentences. I also gave out four math sheets covering graphing, mean, median, and mode. The class worked on the sheets with each other and with Sara and me. We also went over many of the answers in bookcorner and each student in the class should have done diagramming using the apps on our iPads.
We had two new writing assignments, one using 16 spelling words in a creative story, and the other using an essay format. We had everyone read their spelling stories in bookcorner and later had a spelling test on those words. We also read our New York trip writing this week.
We have changed our reading book to Ender’s Game, we had started reading a version of Star Wars that is written in Shakespearean verse, but we had to stop. I realized to fully appreciate that book we will have to see the movie first, which quite a few students have never seen. I sometimes get surprised by things I think the students know or have experienced, not taking their age into consideration. It also surprised me that the students knew nothing about Harlem when the tour guide was talking at The Tenement Museum about Victoria, a character portrayed by an actress, who immigrated to the U.S. and wanted to move there. To them it was just a name. I realize that I should add a corner of Harlem to a New York trip next year. Many years ago I had a New York Trip that started on 165th St. in Harlem and went down Broadway to Battery Park. It was an 11 mile walk, on which I asked students to take photographs of the different neighborhoods as we walked.
The schedule also included math work, Phys. Ed., Amazing Facts and extensions, and music connected to the upcoming play, The Boisterous Bard.
I talked to students about several articles I had read in my new second most favorite magazine, Smithsonian Magazine. Did you know that a farmer got 20 years in prison in China for killing three giant pandas near his home, it takes 90 days for a raindrop arriving at the origin of the Mississippi River to reach the Gulf of Mexico, and that 76% of all species were wiped out by the asteroid or comet that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago?
This week we finished watching the very intense BBC version of Macbeth, viewing 20 minutes of the film each day.
Finally our focus this week again is on the history project. We created a new wall display for students to display their work prior to us making it into our book. I also decided to change the way the work would be presented to the class. I was going to do this in chronological order from 4000 BC to the present time, but I have decided instead to have projects presented in a random order as each section is completed by each student. We actually started off on Thursday with our first presentation on the Fertile Crescent, the birthplace of civilization. I am very excited about the work I see students doing and every time I look at them I’m thinking of them to some extent in the context of the history they are researching. I mean this in a good way because they are our source of information about that portion of history.
I started Tuesday off talking to the students about their work. I talked to them about their reading, writing, math, and project work. I have a class of very competent readers who all participate fully when we are passing books around or materials to be read in bookcorner. We have also been very conscientious about reading with our younger class partners every week.
This class has been willing to share their writings and they have appreciated everybody’s writing style. For the most part, students have been responsible about doing their assignments and when I checked the last two writings, 32 of the 38 possible writings were completed.
In math, I told the group that we had four people that have finished all of the Key Curriculum series books and that that was amazing with two other students near that goal. Not too long ago, I only had a total of about a dozen people who had completed all the books since we started using them in about the early 80s! Math has certainly been a valuable and active area this year. The Math Counts group has been very productive, and it may be possible for some of those people to do independent work in specific text books next year.
All of our project work has gone well, especially our work with Shakespeare. I encouraged everyone to put a lot of effort in their history project work.
One of the things that I find so rewarding as an educator is when students find references to things they’ve learned in their everyday life. Recently a student mentioned that the item he ordered at the Indian restaurant had a warning that said “Eagles Dare Not”. Sara looked up the quote and it turned out to be from Richard III. The class was thrilled and surprised, and we talked about the fact that Richard III would probably continue to pop up in their life. This is one of the main things I think education is all about – relating information one knows to future things and experiences. Of course, to allow this to happen, one has to talk and have a person like Sara, who always impresses us with her curiosity and her knowledge. I love how she has inspired the students with these qualities and with many other which she shares with them every day.
We have been working to finish our Doodle for Google designs which will be mailed out on Friday. The topic this year has been so much fun to explore. We started by discussing all the things that would make the world a better place. My class “thinks big” and decided that some of the problems that needed tackling were global warming, natural catastrophes, disease, animal cruelty and war. They also thought that more rainbows, a smoother start to your day in the form of a robot to help with your morning routine were also good ideas. We did several activities where we looked at everyday objects and brainstormed other uses for them, discussed the properties of the materials that they were made of and why these properties made them useful and looked at the big problems and brainstormed how they affect everyday life and what inventions might help. We have also been watching the PBS Making Stuff series which highlights the new breakthroughs in science and TED talks by inventors and their innovative solutions to everyday problems.
The children have been working in two groups and continue to write the text for their endangered animal picture books. Working together to collaborate on the story, decided on layout and assign tasks is no easy feat when you have to get a variety of ideas and working styles to agree. This process is so valuable and it is amazing to see the children work through the challenges.
Kathryn’s math workshops continue to explore the relationship between math and origami. Friday the classroom was full of students making elaborate three dimension unit origami shapes. Check them out the next time you are passing through our room. They are quite impressive.
Susan continues Shakespeare work with the class. Finishing a biography of Shakespeare, wrapping up character collages and having the children write interesting facts they learned throughout the past weeks. They have begun practicing the songs for the play with Helen.
The big excitement this week was the arrival of lots of new books. On Monday we put out the books for everyone to see and every day this week we have squeezed in quiet reading time. This class loves to read and would happily sit for hours if I let them curled up with a good book.
We were also excited to see the signs of spring weather and be outside this week. Please send your child to school in layers so they can adjust to the ever changing temperature. The backyard is still muddy from the melting snow so appropriate footwear is also important along with a change of clothes for any mud mishaps.
Spring is in the air! It’s been so nice to get outside the last couple of days. The kids have been so happy to be able to run around without all of their snow gear and get outside for more than just lunch time. They have been playing outside before school, at snack, at lunch, and after school. They had phys ed outside yesterday, and we even had a chance to do some chalk drawings on the map top.
Our time in the classroom has been filled with Shakespeare and the Elizabethan time period. Last week we had briefly discussed Elizabethan history. We then spent some time looking at Elizabethan fashion. On Monday, Kim and I pulled out all of our fabric, and the kids began choosing what they wanted to use to dress their body outlines. We then started dressing the body outlines with bodices and skirts and doublets and “puffy” short pants. We had so many great fabrics that the kids had a really hard time choosing! One child had so many pieces of fabric selected that she couldn’t even carry it all!
We have also broken into small groups to begin researching Shakespeare and different aspects of Elizabethan life. Each group will read about their topic and find 5 facts. Then they will draw illustrations to go with what they have researched. Our topics include: children, toys and games, food, fashion, theater, Shakespeare’s life, and Shakespeare’s plays.
The little class has already begun practicing for our whole school play. They now know two of their songs, and are learning a chant. They are working on their sonnet lines as well. We will also be helping with the scenery by collaging or painting an image of the Globe Theater.
Our next newspaper is now in production. The children are writing articles for it and will add to it in the next couple of weeks. We should be sending it home by the end of March.
The children continue to work on math skills and activities, as well as independent reading.
Tomorrow we have our trip to the Algonquin Theater to see “Henry and Mudge.” It should be fun. We have read some Henry and Mudge books so that everyone knows the characters. Thanks in advance to Sara for driving us so that Susan can continue work on the play, and to Megan for chaperoning.