Friday, March 17, 2017

Week 25 -- Pi, pi, shoplifting, and justice

Recording our gravity car trials in science 

The Place Out of Time trial has begun in earnest, and we spent part of this week unpacking the opening arguments of the plaintiff and the defense. As mentioned previously, our case involves the true story of the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation overturning the conviction of a homeless man who shoplifted approximately $4.70 worth of food because he was in “a state of need.” It’s a very interesting story, and it’s well worth reading a little about it. It captures a lot of what’s in the political climate of our country at the moment, while being far enough removed to allow some perspective.

Our trial in the Place Out of Time courtroom is a fictional extension of the story. The plaintiff in our case is the shopkeeper whose merchandise was stolen in the first place. She asserts that human need and dignity are obviously important matters for a society to address, but the fact remains that it was her store and property that were affected. A law was broken, and she was directly impacted. Doesn’t this ruling send a message that anyone can come in and take her property? She makes a compelling argument, and the defense has the job of convincing us that the court’s ruling should stand. Everyone is wrestling with this issue, both in-character and as themselves.

Winter came back for a bit this week:

Henry pits readers against each other. 
Meanwhile, a conversation that began during our weekly library time with Rachel led to this week’s journal prompt: “Novels versus Graphic Novels!” Students were encouraged to explore the pros and cons of each as a storytelling medium, and to write about how they interact with each. It was a unique prompt, in that kids were given the option of responding in prose, text, or some hybrid of both. Some kids who enthusiastically leapt to respond in a comic format realized that it can take a lot longer to write and draw a story than they realized. Many of the responses were playful and clever. Ask your child how they responded!
Joey had the books themselves fight it out. 

In math group, we spent some time working in our Singapore books, but as with every March 14, pi was front and center. On Tuesday, 3/14 (Pi Day), we watched some videos about pi, including one of Vi Hart’s infamous anti-pi rants.

One of the points of her video led us down a bit of a rabbit hole, as we started talking about scales of magnitude and the spaces in between things. This was vividly illustrated by playing with the very illuminating internet tool/toy The Scale of the Universe. Please do yourself a favor and spend several minutes playing with it right now. We also watched the classic Eames film Powers of Ten.

Of course, we are essentially obligated to bring in some sort of actual pie as part of all of this, a task that Sam dutifully took on as our school’s foremost expert on pi, pie, and homophones.

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