Thursday, October 31, 2013

Class Portrait - 10/31/13

There was something in the air today, so we captured the moment with a group portrait. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


EBs have begun! I'm partnering with middle school Art teacher Monica for 'Imaginary Worlds', in which we write stories based on interesting prompts, or create art based on short stories. During our first meeting, we responded the the four images pictured here. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Exploring Britton Woods in County Farm Park

For PE this morning, we sprinted/hiked out to the Britton Woods section of County Farm Park (the old Summers-Knoll building is right on the edge of Britton Woods). This is the area that most of us will be targeting for our County Farm Park projects. While there, we looked for things relevant to each of our studies. We were on the prowl for fungus, squirrel nests, invasive species, poison ivy, berries, and more. Margaret and Grayson looked for evidence of ancient glaciers, and Luke tried to determine how water would flow through the area. 

Those studying wildlife got a definite bonus: we spotted a deer in the woods, quickly trotting away from our group. As we've designed our studies, we've been making our peace with the idea that well probably have to settle for recording the evidence of animal life, rather than actually spotting things in the wild. Today was a nice reminder that keeping your eyes open and staying alert can yield rewards! (Sorry, I didn't get a photo.) 

This was just a quick visit to get our blood flowing and our minds active. We'll be spending most of the afternoon Friday in these woods working on our projects in earnest. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Scene from Latin

A quick peek into Latin this morning. 

For more, be sure to check in on Imogen's blog

Friday, October 25, 2013

Conferring with Jules on County Farm Park projects

Jules came in this afternoon to help us really focus on our County Farm Park projects. We spent a lot of time discussing each individual's project, exploring how it might be narrowed down, and helped us think about how to meaningfully collect data when we're out in the field. We looked at maps, read through guides, and began creating procedures and data collection instruments. 

They're shaping up to be an interesting blend of studies! Mapping deer trails, conducting a tree census, comparing the same species in different biomes, and mapping the flow of water through the park are just a few of the different projects that individuals are developing. 

Jules will be back next Friday, which will be spent in the park collecting data. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Math: Complements

In Math today, we focused on complements (as opposed to compliments. Kids who said "that's a nice shirt you have on today" were thanked warmly, but marked incorrect).


Luke and I dressed alike today. This is probably the closest thing you'll ever see to school uniforms at S-K. 

Warm-Up: 10/24/13

We generally start our days with a warm-up assignment of some kind. Today's was a sheet of three logic puzzles. Most of the class worked through the first two quickly, but the third problem ballooned into a class-wide collaboration. The task was to decode a message written in Morse Code. Unfortunately, there were no spaces between the letters, making it a challenge to decipher.

The kids quickly started teaming up, then grouping, and eventually working together as an entire class to tackle the task. I periodically provided small hints, and played them the audio of actual Morse Code messages being transmitted so they could hear how the code has been used over the years.

What was originally intended as a brief get-your-brain-thinking exercise evolved into a 45 minute team-building activity. It was fascinating to watch how each individual worked to contribute to the group in their own way. Some had trouble with deciphering the code themselves, so they began working to help sort and organize the findings of the decoders. They eventually got it, just in time for our Math/Music/Latin rotations to begin.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Greenhouse work with Dr. George

Dr. George came in this afternoon to talk to us about the S-K greenhouse project. We focused on heat loss today, which will be a major concern as we try to grow vegetables this winter. We tackled some heady concepts, in a very challenging piece of text. For some students, this was their first exposure to the concept of variables in a mathematic expression. (And I'm fairly certain that it was the first time that any of us had heard the term 'heat transmission coefficient'.)

Be sure to check out Dr. George's blog, which is full of information about the greenhouse, as well as other cool projects that he has cooking. 

Warm-Up: 10/23/13

Our warm-up exercise from this morning. After working on it individually, we modeled it together as a class using props; the eraser was our swan, the brown marker was the mouse, the green marker was the rabbit, and the red marker was the deadly, deadly snake. (Click for a closer view)

Scenes from Art Class

Rehearsing The Odyssey with Karl!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Check out Imogen's blog!

Be sure to check out Imogen's blog for an entry about Sydney's ballet demonstration!

Topographic Maps

This afternoon, we learned about topographical maps, using sliced potatoes as tiny model mountains. We learned to read and draw them, then we looked at USGS maps of the Ann Arbor area, focusing on County Farm Park.

Dichotomous Keys

After working with Jules this morning, we created our own dichotomous keys. First, we did one as a group to categorize four objects; an apple, a banana, a clementine, and a pack of Sour Patch Kids. We were only allowed to classify things based on observable physical characteristics. For example, color, shape, or size, as opposed to "delicious," or other subjective terms.

After a discussion, everyone was tasked to make a key of all the kids in our class.

Classroom guest! Tree identification with Jules

We had a guest speaker today! This morning, Jules came in to talk to us about plant identification. We took a walking tour of the Summers-Knoll campus, examining them and using a dichotomous key to identify the specific species of trees found around our school.

Here, Jules points out the features of the Norway Maple in front of the school. We also examined a large Silver Maple in our courtyard, a Scotch Pine (sometimes referred to as a "volcano tree"), a Black Pine, and some Common Buckthorn.

 Jules will be helping us shape our County Farm Park projects in the days ahead.

Monday, October 21, 2013

STEM: Exploring scale and discussion the electromagnetic spectrum

Difficult to see in photos, but impressive in person, Sam demonstrates wave functions using a Slinky during our STEM time. 

We also watched the classic short film 'Powers of Ten'. 

This prompted an interesting discussion about scale, particularly in regard to science. Check out this cool interactive site: 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dr. George talks about the greenhouse and compost furnace

Dr. George recently took us on a tour of the innovative S-K greenhouse project, explaining the physics of the building, our plans for the winter, and our partnerships with local restaurants to provide fuel for our compost furnace.

Art class in County Farm Park

We had a special, extended Art class with Monica on Wednesday. We spent it doing close observation drawings of various plants in County Farm Park. Here we see kids observing and admiring the results. These drawings are the first step toward learning how to make block prints later this year. (And they'll likely be included in our County Farm Park class project.)

Factor Tag!

Factor Tag: Each student is assigned a number, then a number is called out. If you're a factor of that number, RUN! If you're not, chase those who are! 

For example, if the number 16 is called, 2, 4, 8, and 16 would run, while everyone else would try to tag them. When tagged, you must freeze and strike a ridiculous pose.