Daily Schedule

Friday, January 19, 2018

Weekly Update - January 15 - 19

                                       This update is also found in Walter's weekly email:

In math, most of us are starting on our final blueprints of our 3-D tiny houses. We still have a long way to go on this project, though. We’ve even watched a tour of a real tiny house on t.v. for inspiration. Most of the students think it would be a lot of fun to live in such a house - for sure, it has been fun designing one!

Our City Theme has fully started this week, with some brainstorming about what makes a city. Our 
young city planners came up with many “Needs” and “Wants”. Lots of city walks, block designs, and 
art installations to follow. We also recited and illustrated a beautiful poem called City, by Langston 
Hughes. Perhaps we will write our own city poetry anthology, after reading and enjoying some others 
I’ve collected.

Lexi and Dillon were our Special Readers this week, and both had parents join as audience members. 
We made good progress on our Memoirs also. And we’ve met the main characters in our new 
read-aloud, A Cricket in Times Square.

The first and second graders joined forces on Thursday afternoon for a first trial of roller coaster 
physics! Teams of children tried their ideas that they sketched out last week. We will modify and try 
again next week for better results.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What Makes a City?

In the morning the city
Spreads its wings
Making a song
In stone that sings.

In the evening the city
Goes to bed
Hanging lights
Above its head. 
We had such wonderful discussions today, all about what makes a city. Cities can be magical places, full of beauty and adventure. But they need things to make them run efficiently, too.

We divided into three groups today to start exploring. Children were given the barest of outlines: What do you think is important for a mid-size city (like Ann Arbor) to have? Students took about 20 minutes to list all of the things they would put in a city, if they were city planners.

Then we got together in a whole group to list about 30 ideas on the board (about 10 from each group). This time, we tried to divide the ideas into "needs" and "wants". This lead to some interesting distinctions - a library was passionately argued for as something that was needed, while a bookstore was a "want". And, at first, most children thought that cars were definitely needed - but I think I convinced them that if we managed public transportation better, many people could do quite well without. Our young environmentalists would not let go of the idea that a land preserve was a "need" - right on! I'm so proud that they even thought of this in the first place!

One of the funniest conversations (to me) happened about the inclusion of a jail. One child did NOT want this in the "need" column. He just didn't want to think that jails were needed. He has the tenderest of hearts. But others argued, "But what will we do with the bad guys? What if we have robbers?" There were heated discussions about alternatives, but no real conclusions. Finally, a third child rather sadly shrugged his shoulders and said, "I guess we'll just have to kill 'em." (Jail was decided as a kinder alternative after all.)

After all that good discussion about what a city needs, I wanted to show the students that we should always keep in mind that great cities should be beautiful and unique. While the video I showed them is not made for children, they loved it, understood it, and were inspired by it. We will be doing some art pieces soon, keeping this in mind. I hope you enjoy it too. (You will need to go directly to the blog to access the link to the youtube video - thanks!)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Update on "Where We're From" Mapping Project

On Thursday, the (almost) final dots were added from our class to the three maps found in the hallway. One child was out sick, and we have a new child just joining our class, so we are not quite done yet!

As you may remember, this part of our Identity Project had children research where they were born, where their parents were born, and where each set of grandparents were born. They used this information to fill out a chart with different colored dots - each dot color representing different generations. Green dots represented the children, red dots represented their parents, and yellow dots represented their grandparents.

The last bit of this project had children look at three different maps - a state map, a U.S. map, and a world map. If someone was born in Michigan, their dot went on the state map, if they were born in a state other than Michigan, we used the U.S. map, and if they were born in another country, we needed to find the country on the world map.

We noticed many things. Most of the green dots (the children) were all clumped around Ann Arbor, Michigan. There are a couple children born in other states, but most were born here. Lots of parents were born in Michigan, too, but we started to see a lot more dispersal of red dots in other states, and even countries. Yellow dots tended to be all over the place! Grandparent dots were in other countries more frequently than any other colored dot.

Grace's class is just finishing up adding their data to the map as well, and Val's class will be doing this project in the near future (they have done the research, but have not yet charted their information).

Please feel free to take a look at what our social scientists have been up to!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Weekly Update - January 8 - 12

This information is also found in Walter's weekly email:

After a nice, long Winter Break, we came back refreshed and ready for a bright new start to 2018. We 
welcomed a new student, Ian, and he has already become a wonderful addition to our team.

This week in math we started a new project to correspond with our new theme of Cities. We will be 
learning about area, perimeter, and geometry over the few weeks, and will be doing so in a very 
hands-on way, by building our own "math city", made up of 3-D tiny houses. Great progress is also being 
made in the Singapore math books, and several children are starting in new books just in time for the 
start of the new semester.

Science investigations happened with both Shan and in the classroom this week. WIth Shan, we listened
to a story about a roller coaster and two children with differing ideas about how a roller coaster could 
work. Children sketched their ideas down, using their previous knowledge about potential and kinetic 
energy. They had to include a big hill, a small hill, and a loop-de-loop. Next week, they will use their 
sketches to actually build with tubing!  

In the classroom, we did one more science experiment with the theme of identity - we attempted to identify what type of fingerprints each of us had.

We worked on our Memoirs this week, and did some other writing as well. Miles and Nels both wowed us with their reading prowess by doing fantastic jobs with Elephant and Piggie stories. We read about Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, and a bit about what it was like to live in that time.