So many things to say! Congratulations to E on your acceptance to High Tech High School. I know you are thrilled and so are we. Also, I would like to officially welcome C as a new student in the older class. I hope these exciting, positive developments follow us to the end of the year.
We had a good trip on Tuesday to the Tenement Museum. It was made perfectly enjoyable by the input from my chaperones and in particular by Steven who took us to one of his bagel shops for a warm place to eat and a buttered bagel and hot chocolate. On the trip we walked a little over 60 blocks which is about 3 miles. We had a good meal at the Indian restaurant, and we were their only customers except for one other person. The restaurant was small and just after we were seated we were greeted by a full view of a fire truck and firemen undoing their hoses right outside the front window. Our meal lasted two hours and the staff was amazingly welcoming and gave us rice pudding and even Indian tea as an ending to our meal. However, at the end of the trip I did have to talk with my students about appropriate behavior for the city. It was not that they were bad but they did not listen when I asked them to stop hopping, giving someone a “flat tire” (stepping on the back of their shoe), going in and out automated doors, and things like that. A few students came to mind Tuesday night as I was thinking about the day, so Wednesday I asked if anybody thought their behavior was inappropriate and all of the students I had in mind raised their hands. Their assignment for last night was to talk with their parents about this.
I would also like to share my thoughts on why my class this year is taking more time than I sometimes expect to do an assignment. My educational analysis of this is that it’s one of the best things that could happen because to me it shows that students are involved and invested in the work we are doing. Here are a few examples: On Friday we read an article on stress from Scope Magazine. We read the stress article in group session after Rosalie sent in an accompanying professional article that she had found on teenage stress. We read both articles by passing them around and I pointed out that now we also know the reason for percents and fractions as they punctuated the professional article. I also asked individuals in the class to share with us their stress level, if they didn’t mind telling me, with zero being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Most of the class was a three with the next group being six and a few students being eight or higher. I decided not to pursue this any further at this moment but I am sure we could’ve talked for quite a long time about this and maybe we will in the future. Another example of this occurred as we were doing work to prepare for our visit to the Tenement Museum. Of the many exercises that we did, there was one in which the class was supposed to pose as the immigrant family in a photo. They were to study the photograph and do the same stances as well as the same facial expression. But of course before we could do this, people started running to the closet to find costumes. J was the first to lead this pack. If my class was going to do their reenactment of this photograph and the poses, it had to be done right with all the trimmings. I hate to think what this means as far as how they will be in making and finding costumes for our Boisterous Bard play. Also, on Monday we watched the Macbeth animated film, and then followed that later in the afternoon with a 60 some page book created by a teacher and her students with writings and drawings as well as the text of the story written in prose. We passed the book around and each person read two pages taking delight in the student additions. They loved what the student said who were between the ages of seven and nine and couldn’t help but mention the different spellings for words that they thought were quite funny. They also wanted to show all the drawings the students made of the different characters in the play. This whole exercise took about an hour because they were so involved and excited about what they were sharing and enjoying the entire process.
Our Macbeth study continued with the class reenacting the play from a 17 character, 10 minute funny version of the play. Previously we had used these mini versions for Julius Caesar and for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We also shared a cartoon version of Macbeth and watch the first 40 minutes of a two hour movie on Macbeth.
As part of her continuing independent project E did a book review on the book Looking for Alaska written by John Green. Her review was informative and told us about the characters and in particular about how she thought John Green often presented his female characters as metaphorical beings. These reviews have added so much to the class.
Our schedule this week also included pillow art, the pi chain, history work, amazing facts and extensions, a trip write up, phys ed, math work, reading partners, and the starting of our new group reading book Star Wars.
Today I had a little discussion with my class about the things they are concerned about, that they think about, and that they are interested in doing in the next few months. I asked everyone how old they were and realize that with a large group graduating next year we are going to see many maturity changes from now till then. I plan on having several more follow up talks with them about their lives in general. I have really enjoyed this group this year, but I know they are going to get older and that together we are going to have new things to experience and learn. I always like to know what my class is thinking about and I think parents do also, so that will be the focus of an upcoming parent meeting that I will schedule before the end of the year.
Students have been busy working on Doodle for Google designs and also writing in 50 words or less how their drawing expresses the theme “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place ….” Each child has created a design and written description but a parent must sign the attached form to give permission to enter the contest. (It is up to you whether or not you would like your child’s entry to be submitted.) Please see me if you have any questions. Thank you.
Despite having many children out sick this week (we only averaged 11 children each day!), it has been a very productive week. We have begun our new project on Shakespeare’s life and times. This project is beginning with tracing around each child. These body tracings were measured today. And tomorrow we will look at Elizabethan clothing so that the children can start to dress their bodies in period clothing. We have also had a discussion about what was going on in that time period. We discussed Queen Elizabeth I. This led to a discussion about presidents. During this discussion, one child told us that he is related to President Obama! But, then decided he wasn’t sure. It’s always interesting where children’s thoughts go! We will be exploring different aspects of Elizabethan times over the next few weeks. This will include clothing, food, music and dance, children’s games and toys, etc.
We worked quite a bit on math related activities and games this week. We revisited some concepts that the kids were working on before break. We also worked on geometric shapes and combinations. And of course we worked on measurement with our body tracings.
Each child spent time reading independently and with me and Kim this week. Some children started an alphabet book to practice letter sounds and writing letters. We also journaled about our bird presentation.
Last week the older class made a book series for the little class. They are based on the Bob books that the little class has been reading. The older class did an incredible job on these books. The little class loved them! Each little classer wrote a very nice thank you note to the older class for these great books.
I want to say thank you to Z’s Grandma for the donation of some non-fiction books to the classroom. They are much appreciated, and I know the children will love them.
Hopefully everyone will be well from here going forward!