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.

Bora/Peter Jackson posts the timeline of his life (so far).

We’ve also been making quick progress through our current read aloud book, When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. The mystery is getting…substantially weirder, and only Evie has a good handle on what might happen next (because she has already read the book.)

This week also saw the return of our weekly journal prompts. We responded to the quote, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” We respond to these quotes completely individually and in (relative) silence, so I was surprised to see how many kids ended up using math problems to articulate their interpretations. Without consulting each other at all, several students talked about knowing how to solve a math problem is a good thing, but understanding how the math actually works is also very important.

Speaking of math, we spent one session of our math group watching a short film adaptation of the novel Flatland, then another class session discussing it. Flatland is populated by two dimensional creatures who are largely oblivious to the the heretical notion of a mysterious third dimension. A couple of rabble-rousing free-thinkers defy the powers that be, with the help of a unique guide. After the film, we spent time thinking through what it would be like to live in a two-dimensional world. Can a Flatlander tie a knot? How would you play tennis? What would a picket fence look like? How can a Flatlander have a digestive system without being completely bisected? We also dipped our toes into the idea of what four dimensional objects might look like, which strained brains mightily. On Friday, we retreated to our Singapore books to rest our brains and exercise our skills.

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