Friday, February 17, 2017

Gathering at the Alhambra

Place Out of Time dominated our work this week in social studies. All of the students got their autobiographical profiles posted on the interactive site, which is based at the University of Michigan's School of Education. (We were among the first schools to do so.) Part of the game's conceit is that all the participants gather for the trial at the Alhambra in Spain--which will be embodied at the end of the simulation in April with an actual gathering at the School of Ed. Students responded to two prompts from the facilitators. If you had to choose one item, what would you bring with you to our collective gathering at the Alhambra? What was the turning point in your life? The kids also wrote posts of their own as well as responding to other characters' posts, including many from other schools.

We also continued our work with Twelfth Night. Students added to their accounts of key events and quotations from all five acts on butcher block paper, which we posted in order on the way up the stairs to our 7-8 space. In addition, the kids imagined what might happen in an Act VI, and posted that too--a sequel called, inevitably, Thirteenth Night. One student began writing this play. And we began to rehearse Act I. Finally, we began to summarize each act in six lines or fewer.

Math class saw algebra students all reviewing for upcoming assessments, while pre-algebra focused on exponents and scientific notation. One of our days was devoted to math-related board and role-play games. That was a big hit.

In PE, we ran a series of backwards relays and spent another day playing soccer, team handball, and a kind of chaotic goals-based game with a yoga ball. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thirteenth Night

Much of our time was occupied with work on the Place Out of Time simulation. Students posted their completed and revised autobiographies online, began touring the site. posted a few thoughts and responses, and put up timelines in the middle school commons corresponding to their characters' lifespans. Our history and society work this week also included some follow-up on our conversations on the recent executive order issuing a travel ban on travellers from seven countries. We looked at the implications of the ban's suspension and looked into the arguments presented to federal judges in California. Finally, we finished our initial reading of Twelfth Night and put together giant sheets, posted in the stairwell, reviewing the plot of each of the five acts (and imaging what might happen in a sequel, called, perhaps, Thirteenth Night.)

In math, many of the kids participated in the national AMC exam. Some students in both groups were working toward assessments, while others began taking them. Algebra continued to work on graphing, standard equations, and slope-intercept work. Pre-algebra concentrated on exponents. As always, students divided time between book work, instruction from Sam, and Khan Academy.

PE found us walking through County Farm Park on icy trails and then smashing giant chunks of ice on the concrete, like twelve Incredible Hulks. We followed this up with snow relays in which the students raced to pass on a variety of items, including deflated basketballs and ice skates.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Spices & Silk

This week in the study of history and society, we leaned a little more into the food project by looking at the global effects of the spice trade. In addition to spreading European culture and beliefs to Asia and, to a lesser degree, to Africa, the trade created exchanges throughout the world, cross-pollinating ideas, knowledge, and technologies over routes that were many thousands of miles long. We used readings from UNESCO and an unusual lesson framework in which students (like spice traders) exchanged information with every single classmate, trading new knowledge in a style we call 'free market'. With an eye toward the social justice project, we began to frame connections to art and math within Summers-Knoll, as well as identifying adults with whom to consult from outside the school. 

And we kept reading Twelfth Night!

In math, the algebra group moved toward chapter tests on the standard form of equations (ax + by = c) and ongoing slope-intercept work. They also looked at Rene Descartes' contributions in connecting geometry to algebra in making equations visible. The pre-algebra kids worked with scientific notation, exponents, and fractions, especially simplification and common denominators.

In PE, we ran the Arctic Mile (six laps around the school in freezing temperatures) and went skating at the Ice Cube.