Woodpeckers (Grades 1-2)
The Woodpeckers began their unit of Social Studies on Ancient China by creating a list of what they already knew about China and then, after watching a BrainPop Jr. video, started building their “brain map” of new things they learned -- inventions, geography, and important vocabulary terms relating to Confucianism. The students expanded their knowledge of Ancient Chinese culture by watching the “true” story of Mulan as well as the Disney version, using both as bases for answering comprehension questions and discussing the essential question, “Is it ever justifiable to treat others differently?” The students talked about the idea of respect, honor, filial piety, and socially prescribed gender roles before expanding their “brain map” on the whiteboard. Miss Megan, our Rollins College Intern, also lead a discussion with the Woodpeckers on geography, helping them make their own maps of China and locate, label, and color various topographical features of the region, including mountains, deserts, and the Great Wall. The Woodpeckers continue to enjoy learning the Greek and Latin roots of various words they encounter in their all their studies.
In Language Arts, students focused on the questions, “What is an adjective and why do we use it?” The Woodpeckers came up with examples of adjectives, discussed the importance of descriptive words, added adjectives to sentences on the board to make them more interesting, and added “adjective” to their parts-of-speech books. Students continue to read comprehension passages to themselves, highlight words they have trouble with, and then read their passages out loud to Ms. B, getting assistance sounding out difficult words. Tying in with their studies on Ancient China, the Woodpeckers also drew a sketch about what they thought life would be like as an Emperor. After pairing up and sharing their drawing, they turned their drawing into a written story.
The Woodpeckers became world travelers in Creative Arts as they made their own passports. Each time they “travel” to a different county, students draw a picture representing that country, while Ms. B gives them a time stamp. So far they have illustrated pages for Early Humans, Mesopotamia, and Egypt, and will add India and China soon. Another fun project was creating their own dragon masks after learning about the Chinese Lantern Festival and Golden Dragon Parade.
In Math, the Woodpeckers learned about the Chinese abacus and created their own out of dowels, beads, and craft sticks. Utilizing their new devices, students practiced place values -- and learned how to count and make numbers on them! Place value learning was also reinforced with blocks/cubes and skill sheets. Additionally, students focused on the essential question, “What defines a shape?,” and they used their new ipads to research the word “shape,” select images, and compare and contrast with classmates’ findings. Students also learned about the Chinese puzzle, tangram, and then made their own. Students made a tangram shooting star, Star Wars ship, school house, Christmas tree, and dragon. What fun!
For the Woodpeckers, Science focused on the concept of technology. The students studied Ancient Chinese inventions, from the wheelbarrow to gunpowder, and discussed their purpose and function. The Woodpeckers were then able to make their own kite -- another Chinese invention -- after carefully assessing their materials and mapping out a design plan. After trying to fly them, students talked about gravity, wind, and friction. The word “aerodynamics” lead to a paper airplane project, where students sketched plans for making their plane, constructed them, and recorded in their lab books how far they flew.
In Physical Literacy, Dr. Lezlie Laws (Walden Community Advisor, retired Rollins College professor, and certified yoga instructor) taught the Woodpeckers (and Wallabies and Wolves) some basic yoga moves -- complementing their recent studies on Ancient India. And, they loved it! Mr. Carlos added to that by teaching them Tai Chi, a type of traditional Chinese martial arts -- and letting them make up their own moves! He also kept the Woodpeckers moving with 100m sprints, soccer dribbling, and various running games. Students continue to learn about nutrition, focusing this week on how to read nutrition labels on food and what calories and fat are.
Miss Roccio, the Spanish teacher, continued to work with the Woodpeckers on simple Spanish words and helped students label these in the classroom. Students then played a game to find them without talking!
The Woodpeckers continue to discuss the concept of Community -- in the world and in the classroom -- and the importance of cooperation in both. Ms. B provides daily Community Building learning activities for the students to participate in, from building puzzles together without talking to making “connection” bracelets.
Wallabies (Grades 3-4) and Wolves (Grades 5-6)
Before moving into Ancient China for social studies, the Wallabies and Wolves each created large brain maps about what they learned so far about Early Humans, Egypt, and India, and then made connections between the different civilizations. Miss Heather said she was very impressed with their work! After some reflection and sharing time, as well as introducing new vocabulary terms for this unit, both classes began their brain map about China, with branches that include physical features, important people/inventions, culture/ideas, and government. As a common thread to previous learning, Miss Heather posed the question, “Why are rivers important to humans?,” which lead into a geographical and topographical study of China. Students created their own physical maps of China, and learned geographic terms such as compass rose, scale, key/legend. They then discussed the essential question, “Do the physical features of a land affect how people live?,” and, based on their understanding, students predicted where the first Chinese civilizations formed. Then, the Wallabies and Wolves explored “TimeMaps” on their ipads, allowing them to see how China changed from 2500BC-2500AD.
For their City Projects, The Wallabies (Quiet Deer Tribe) and Wolves (Zenoot Tribe) partnered for a once in a decade meeting-of-the-minds! Wolves and Wallabies with similar jobs in their Tribes worked together to disucss questions, research vocabulary words (using encyclopedia.kids.net on their new ipads), and solve real problems in their villages. Chiefs of Engineering and Agriculture from each Tribe researched Aqueducts, using Roman designs to make their own, and discussed the importance of bringing water to them instead of living right next to a river. Chiefs of Diversity considered what discrimination looks like, how varied it can be, and what support citizens need to live in a society together. Presidents and Chiefs of Trade, always thinking preemptively, were concerned with what possible consequences could come from trade. They researched embargo and how it affects others. Chiefs of Security examined what rights citizens have against their government, learning about the United States Bill of Rights and how long freedom of speech and religion have been around. Chiefs of Urban Design considered waste management and considered how important infrastructure is to a civilization, relative to a town, village, or tribe. City Projects will continue once a week.
In Language Arts, students worked on a "Geography of Ancient China" reading, a passage that described how the physical features of China (rivers, mountains, deserts) isolated it and allowed the civilization to develop independently. Most students began independently reading, identifying words they didn't know with a highlighter. Some students worked with teacher support through partner-reading. All students read the same passage at least twice - with peers, by themselves, with teachers, etc. depending on the need of the student.
Writing continued to center upon students’ “special place” memory. Each completed rough drafts, revised, and edited, later sharing with peers and conferencing with teachers. In vocabulary, students worked with the prefix -un and suffixes -ation and -ed. They also used their iPads and dictionary.com to explore the word origin of the term “isolated” - a word that many students struggled to understand in their Geography of China passage. Miss Heather also began the novel, "Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan." Students began character analyses of the main characters, recording "basic facts," "initial impressions," and "changes.” The Wallabies and Wolves also got a map of the ancient silk road to highlight and follow in order for them to see the route that Chengli travels.
Both the Wallabies and Wolves completed their unit on magnetism this week in Science, while continually reviewing vocabulary. Students explored the idea of magnetic field in more detail by observing how iron filings act on top of magnets (using a plastic lid to separate magnet from filings). They compared fields when magnets were repelling as well as attracting and discussed how these forces looked different. Later in the week, each class created an experiment to separate a mixture of salt, sand, and iron filings. Lots of questions were brought up and discussed (Does salt float? Will the iron fillings float?) throughout the process and each class came up with their own procedure to try to get the iron filings out.Both classes then moved on to a unit about human body systems. The Wallabies sorted parts of the human body (skin, skeleton, brain, stomach, etc.) to assess prior learning - using the categories of "know it", "kind of know it", "don't know it at all," and then collaborated to complete a brain map on each of the body parts to record what they already knew. Then they reviewed everything they knew about the "skeleton" and then put together a child-size skeleton (using 8 pieces of paper in total). Using a reference sheet and labels, students will then cut and glue to label the basic bones of the human body. The Wolves, too, sorted body systems (musculoskeletal system, excretory system, circulatory system, nervous system, etc.) and created a skeleton in the same way, adding labels to theirs using information found from their iPads.
The Wallabies and Wolves had a diagnostic week in Math, tackling test problems ranging from current studies through problems they will not broach until later in the school year. Mr. Carlos split the test up over several days to help reduce anxiety. Additionally, the Wolves practiced fractions, while the Wallabies practiced multiplying by 10’s and using multiplication to solve visual problems. Each week Mr. Carlos also keeps the Wallabies and Wolves thinking with various Critical Thinking activities.
In Physical Literacy, Mr. Carlos taught the Wallabies and Wolves Tai Chi, too. They also completed soccer scrimmages and played several games utilizing their soccer dribbling skills. The students are getting good at reading the nutrition labels on their food and giving Mr. Carlos updates on calories, sugar, and fat. Mr. Carlos continues to teach students the greek root words of the key nutrition terms they are using.
Since it was Halloween, all classes got to create a multi-media "spooky" picture in Creative Arts, using pencil, oil pastels, and water colors. The Wolves and Wallabies are also excited to learn an Ancient Chinese form of scroll painting next week.
And, in the midst of two busy weeks, students dressed up for Halloween and gathered for a Halloween lunch on campus with teachers and parents; were delighted by an impromptu visit from the local fire department; and, capped off their Ancient Egypt studies with an exciting trip to see the Mummies at the Orlando Science Center.