Saturday, June 10, 2017

2016-2017 -- Greatest Hits

I made a video last year that was a sort of greatest hits from the year (view it here). It was fun to create, and well-received by the kids, so here is this year's version. Enjoy this peek into what we've been up to this year. (Tidbit: The still photos at the beginning were all taken on the first day of the school year.) 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Week 36 -- We have begun our final descent

As I’m sure you know, we had an amazing trip last week, and I heartily recommend you take a look at the previous entries to see what we were up to. We’re not taking a break now that we’re back!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Spring Trip -- Day 4 -- Serpent Mound and HOME

Greetings from Ohio! We woke up in LaGrange, Kentucky this morning and made our way to the Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio. Check out these photos from the final day of our trip. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Spring Trip -- Day 2 -- photo-rama

Greetings from Kentucky! Here's a trove of photos for you to take a look through. They are barely curated and often blurry, as it is difficult to take photos in caves. Nevertheless, look carefully and you'll see some kids having a blast. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Spring Trip -- Day 1 -- photos galore

Our little class is on a big trip! Here's an assortment of photos to give you a sense of what we've been up to. These cover day one, which found us departing from S-K, heading to the Creation Museum in Kentucky, and then finishing up the day in Cave City. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Week 30 -- Choose your own adventure

This week has been a whirlwind of collaboration. On Monday, we began working on an all-class choose-your-own-adventure story. We began by composing the first portion together as a whole-group activity, projecting the story on the big class TV. We took turns offering ideas for plot points and dialogue, finding our way to the first big branching point. We continued on and wrote the first parts of each branch as a group. At that point, we had four stories to continue, so we broke into smaller groups. Those groups continued autonomously, each coming up with their own subsequent branching points and splitting into smaller and smaller groups as the stories progressed. Eventually, everyone will be writing endings individually (and contributing to other storylines as they develop). It’s all being recorded in a crazy shared Google document. It's been a delight to see how the kids have taken the stories in radically different directions. You can sneak a peek of it here, with the caveat that it has not been completed or edited yet.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Week 29 -- Reflections, presentation, and 20 words

This was quite a varied week. As Place Out of Time draws to a close, we are taking time to look back on the experience with a reflection assignment. Our first Into the Biome project group placed the order for their game cards, which we are all eager to see in person. Sana shared a presentation on her recent trip to India, complete with an assortment of snacks brought back from the other side of the globe. One writing prompt asked students what items they would save if their house burned down (assuming all family and pets were already safe), and another asked them to imagine a world in which they could only use 20 words for the rest of their lives. (Making a list of 20 essential words is challenging, to say the least.) Perhaps the most animated discussions this week surrounded the first hints of our annual Spring trip, the details of which are currently being nailed down. (Families, expect an email about this soon.)

In Math group, we continued learning some of the rules of the Roman numeral system, while also devoting a fair amount of time to our Singapore books.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Week 27 -- Cover your cough, wash your hands

Checking on the tulips that we planted earlier this year
As I’m sure you’re aware, our class has been ravaged by illness for the last two weeks, making the daily taking of the attendance a somber affair. Happily, we have plenty of ongoing project work that lends itself well to independent and small group work.

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.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Week 18 -- Move-up day, leading assembly

Demonstrating "Mystery Person."

This was an unusual week in a few ways. First of all, between the holiday and the ice day, it was quite brief. Second, Thursday was our annual “Move-Up Day,” during which everyone is temporarily promoted to the next grade level and spends the day in the appropriate classroom. Our sixth graders all became seventh graders and joined Karl and Rachel upstairs. In their places, we welcomed visitors from Chris and Spencer’s classes and made them honorary fifth graders. It was a novel way to spend the day, and everyone got a glimpse of what next year might look like for them.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Week 17 -- Mr. Thomas Jefferson and the Forehead Game.

We began 2017 with a visit from an especially distinguished guest speaker, Mr. Thomas Jefferson, primary author of the Declaration of Independence, the first Secretary of State, and the third President of the United States of America. We had an informal and wide-ranging conversation with Mr. Jefferson, learning about what schooling was like in his day, what he did in his leisure time, and a bit about his on-again/off-again friendship with fellow founding father John Adams.