Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Drawing from life

I tend to post a lot of photos from our Art classes for a couple of reasons:

1. Since I don't teach Art, I'm free to remember to pause to take photos while exciting things are happening (I often forget to do so when I'm leading the class). 

2. The kids are really doing remarkable work, and it's been really exciting to see them growing in their work this year. I get a little caught up in it! Some of it wouldn't be out of place in a college level art class. 

Going through some photos recently, I realized that I never posted some from a particularly active and productive session. The kids took turns holding poses for each other for just long enough for everyone to get a quick sketch down on paper. It was an exercise designed to, among other things, get them to loosen up in their drawing, forcing them to make quick, low-stakes decisions as they cranked out work. The results were really impressive! 

Flow and circuits

Today in STEM, we began discussing the concept of flow, particularly as it relates to our theme of Cities. Traffic, water, sewage, gas, all of these require substantial engineering, and have profound effects on population centers. We spent our time this afternoon exploring this concept with electricity, building circuits in series and parallel. Next week, we'll be working with Joanna's class to teach them what we've learned.

Warm-ups and work spaces

We often begin our school day with a Warm-Up exercise. Today, this problem was part of it: 

"Divide up the grid into four equally sized, equally shaped parts, each containing numbers that add up to 36." 

This task requires an understanding of addition, subtraction, and rotational symmetry, none of which are particularly complicated concepts for a fifth or sixth grader, but applying them to this puzzle becomes quite a challenge! The kids took to the task this morning, each in their own way. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Remember to check out the other S-K blogs!

Just a quick reminder, there is plenty of information to be had by visiting the other Summers-Knoll blogs

Definitely make a point to check in with Sam's Blog, which offers added insight into Math, STEM, and more. He recently posted an entry about Singapore Math assessments, which is probably of particular interest to many families. 

Cities topics presentations - The early 1900s

Our theme for January and February is Cities, and one of the ways that we've been exploring the topic is by learning about the growth of Midwestern American cities over the course of the twentieth century. 

Last week, students paired up to research and prepare short presentations on a variety of topics relevant to cities at the turn of the century (that's 1900, not 2000). Topics included Henry Ford and the $5 Day, Women's Suffrage, The Great Migration, The Toledo War, and Life on a Farm in 1900. They spent the week working with their partners, then gave their presentations on Friday.  

Luke and Karenna talk about the history of the importance of the railroad in Michigan. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Art: Self-Portraits

Last week, our class continued working on their self-portraits in Art. These were drawn while looking at upside down photographs of each student, encouraging them to draw what they actually saw, rather than their preconceived notions of their own faces. It's a challenging and rewarding exercise!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Math: Budgeting

In middle school Math today, students formed family units and received paychecks. Their task: create a family budget based on a list of nonnegotiable costs (house payments, car insurance, food, etc) and potential wants that the family might have (cell phones, entertainment expenses, clothing). After creating workable budgets based on their shared resources, they were thrown some of life's curveballs: How does your budget change if one of your family members loses their job? What if a baby comes along? 

Ask your child how their family did today!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Writer's Workshop: Tiny Tales

Writing Workshop: Today, we worked on creating "tiny tales." Meant to be concise, but evocative, condensed, but rich, we talked about writing stories in which every character, sentence, and word is very deliberately chosen so that not a moment is wasted. 

Ask your child about their story!

Latin: The founding of Rome

Learning about the mythological founding of the city of Rome in Latin.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Happy New Year!

We're right back into the swing of things, after a long, restful beak (and a few snow days). Here we see Sam talking to the entire middle school about the mathematics of cities (our theme for the next two months). 

The conversation covered a lot of ground, and was largely guided by a read aloud of this article: Life in the City Is Essentially One Giant Math Problem