Friday, March 3, 2017

Week 23 -- Filling in the gaps, fear is a LIAR.

In science, we're continuing to work with our gravity-powered cars. 
After a relaxing week off, we got right to work with an extension to our Place Out of Time timelines project. By now, almost everyone has a detailed timeline of the life of their character posted in the appropriate spot on our giant timeline in the middle school commons. However, most of our characters are clustered in the twentieth century. This week, we have spent some time populating the gaps in our huge timeline to provide more context for the scope of human history. For example, before this week, there were no events recorded in the entire 1400s. Now, there are notes about the world-changing voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492, and another noting that the game of chess was in its modern form by 1475. Each student has been tasked with putting up at least five cards on the timeline this week, with more to come in the weeks ahead. Also POOT-related, Sam led the entire 5-6 group in a discussion about dignity, which is a concept that is the heart of the issue framing Place Out of Time this year.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Week 22 - Archigram and ice capades

This week, we began digging into the issue that will drive many of our Place Out of Time conversations over the course of the semester. It concerns an Italian court decision that overturned the conviction of a homeless man who had shoplifted a small amount of food. The court declared that his act couldn’t be considered a crime because he was in a state of need. To unpack the issue a bit, we went through an extremely simplified example of how societies function. (Ask your child about the desert island example.)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Week 21 -- Writing resumes and eating cake

The focus of our homeroom time remains learning about our Place Out of Time characters. Over the course of the week, the timelines of our lives have been completed and posted in the Middle School Commons, allowing us to see how our characters relate to one another in time. We also began speaking in character with one another, having first learned a little about the rules of improvisational acting.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Week 20 -- Snow, poetry, timelines, and Flatland

We had Monday off, and we were all greeted on Tuesday morning with a blanket of snow, but no snow day. Instead, our warm-up was “write a poem about what you would have done/how you’d be feeling if today had been a snow day.” Responses varied, and I was a little surprised to find that not everyone loves snow days. (Others, of course, decidedly do.) I didn’t specify the form, so there were rhyming couplets, acrostics, haiku, and acrostic-haiku, which may be something that was just invented. The bulk of our homeroom time was devoted to Place Out of Time research, including creating a timeline of the major events of each character’s life. The finished results will soon be going up on the wall next to our classroom, so the next time you’re in the building, come take a look and see how the lives of Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, or Jazz Jennings line up with one another.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Week 19 -- Introducing our Place Out of Time characters

We received our Place Out of Time character assignments back from the University of Michigan on Monday, so we have spent the majority of our homeroom time digging into them. Students are focusing on getting a broad overview of their characters, creating timelines of personal and historical milestones, while slowly filling in the massive P.O.O.T. research log. What were Ella Baker’s parents like? What did Heddy Lamar keep in her pockets? What is George W. Bush’s greatest regret? Does Peter Jackson have allergies? Some of the questions they’ll be asked will be unknowable, but by the time we peak with the Place Out of Time simulation, everyone will be able to make educated guesses on how their character might react to a wide variety of situations. Our next big assignment will be to compose a “resume” for their character, written in their voice, which will be posted on their profile page on the Place Out of Time message board.

Our cast of characters:

Hedy Lamarr
Stephen Hawking
Ella Baker
Emma Watson
Robert "Bob" Ufer
Bill Gates
Peter Jackson 
J.K. Rowling
George W. Bush
Jazz Jennings 
Steve Jobs

In math group, we have spent the week focusing on making progress in our Singapore books, balanced with math and strategy games.