Completing Ancient India Studies

Woodpeckers (Grades 1-2)

For the past week, the Woodpeckers have been working hard in Creative Arts to complete their clay and bead Indian necklaces, paint patterns on their saris, and practice Indian dance movements to traditional Indian music.  To culminate this cultural study, the Woodpeckers performed their dance for the teachers and older students, all wearing their hand-made outfits, necklaces, jingle bracelets, and anklets.  (Dance Coach, Dr. Mikulka, also lead them in one of their routines! What fun!)  


Continuing with their study of Ancient India, Ms. B introduced the Woodpeckers to the Ancient Indian Caste System in Social Studies, revisiting one of their essential questions, “Is it justifiable to control others?”  As a hands-on activity, each student was given a caste label on their back and were told to treat each according to these labels.  Students then had to guess which caste label they were given according to how they were treated, afterwards discussing how it felt to be treated like they were, and how this system could impact society at large.  The Woodpeckers then completed a unit assessment on Egypt and India that included a brain map, concept and definition matching, and writing samples.

In Language Artsthe Woodpeckers added many social studies words to their vocabulary books, such as justifiable, migrate, sarcophagus, sari, culture, sustainability, and caste system.  Each student continues to review and practice their own spelling word lists and participate in independent reading time.  The Woodpeckers also practice identifying and circling nouns and verbs and correcting capitalization and punctuation in their writing, as well as completing related reading comprehension and writing/spelling assessments.

Math continued to focus on time telling.  The Woodpeckers created their own clocks out of paper plates, reviewing telling time to the hour and half hour for the first graders, and to the five minutes for the second graders.  Education Specialist, Ms. Bonnie, gave each student an assessment at the end, where she wrote the time and students drew in the clock hands.  Outside of time telling, students also completed a subtraction skill sheet.

“Float or sink” was the topic of the week in Science.  Students discussed why some things float while others sink, then tested objects in water, discovering if their hypotheses were correct.  Learning was reinforced by watching a BrainPop Jr. video.  The Woodpeckers were then challenged to create a new paper-clip-holding boat, using the same materials from the one they had made a few weeks ago, to see if they could engineer a boat that holds more paper clips than last time.  Boats were tested, the number of paper clips compared, and a discussion held about what was different and what worked better.

Wallabies (Grades 3-4) and Wolves (Grades 5-6)

Social Studies continued  to focus on the Harappan culture of India for both the Wallabies and the Wolves.  Classes discussed the idea of “entertainment” and what entertainment can tell us about a culture, from modern-day sports to toys from childhood. Students learned that archeologists found many toys at the Harappan site, but few weapons. (The absence of evidence can be evidence!)  The essential question, “Is it OK to group people and treat them differently?,” was also broached, with both classes coming up with the concept of voluntary or involuntary groupings as key factors in answering the question.  The Indian caste system was discussed with regard to grouping by birth. The Wallabies and Wolves both continued their “City” projects, with the Wallabies’ “Quiet Deer” Council Meeting and the Wolves’ “Zenoot” Council Meeting occurring mid-week.  City jobs were discussed and tweaked, and students’ first assignments were given out.  

In Science this week, the Wallabies and Wolves each wrapped up their unit studies.  The Wallabies finished working with their solar ovens, discussed the essential question, “Can one individual make a difference?,” and completed oral assessments about their unit.  At the same time, the Wolves completed a double bubble map comparing surface currents to thermohaline currents, put all their unit work into a portfolio, and discussed which benchmarks they covered in their unit.

The next unit on magnetism was introduced to both classes, using the vocabulary words attract and repel.  Students shared what they knew and, based on some misconceptions, “played” with magnets to see if opposite or like sides repel and if magnets stick to all metal.  Each student then answered the essential question, “Is magnetism important to us? Why or why not?”  Later in the week, students were introduced to the relationship between magnets and compasses, and were able to explore how one affects the other.  Vocabulary words compass, magnetic field, and magnetite were introduced, and a BrainPop video on magnetism enhanced this learning.

Additionally, both Wallabies and Wolves completed an experiment that Miss Heather introduced by saying, "Today we are going to play with magnets and cereal!"  What?!  Students worked with magnets and three types of cereals, making predictions about what would happen to the magnet and later recording what was found.  The Wallabies connected the iron found in the cereal to magnets immediately, stating, "There's iron in that cereal! We need to look in the ingredients!"  They were still very surprised to see the black specks of iron on the paper towel, and a couple of Wallabies still insist that the iron in food could not possibly be the same iron that is attracted to magnets!  

Following this week’s science topic, the Wallabies and Wolves began their Language Arts by reading passages on magnetism, first independently, identifying words they did not know with highlighters, then out loud to Miss Heather, who helped them define these words.  Students then answered questions about their reading before teaming up for choral reading (reading aloud at the same time) and making independent corrections to their previous answers.

A new pre-writing activity was also introduced to both classes this week focusing around the book, "In My Momma's Kitchen," which contains many short stories that all took place in the same setting.  Discussions were held about how often there are places in our lives where we have a lot of memories, and Miss Heather gave the example of her grandmother's house and modeled drawing a simple map of her house and labeling it with certain memories that took place there.  In the “Ideas” section of their Writer’s Workshop notebooks, students then created their own map of a special place full of memories, later writing drafts based on these maps during writer's workshop time.

All Wallabies and Wolves continue to work on individual spelling words.  Activities they can choose from on their "spelling menu" have many options for the visual/kinesthetic learner, and, so far, Miss Heather reports that students have been very successful with their "tests".

In Math, Mr. Carlos helped the Wallabies discuss the process of math by finding the answers to “What do we know?,” “What do we need to do?,” and “How do we do it?”  Real life examples of division and multiplication were analyzed and discussed, helping students see how math works in our lives.  

Mr. Carlos also used a story to illustrate split-up multiplication: A boy named Jared told his closest 3 friends his deepest, darkest secret; then, his friends each told 3 friends. Then, those friends told 3 friends each.  The Wallabies then looked at how a growing pattern can be analyzed by separating each "New Group": 1 x 3 + 1 x 3 x 3 + 1 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 39.

A guest lesson on division with remainders was also given by Ms. Bonnie, who helped students learn a few memory tricks.  

For the Wolves, the week in Math focused on functions, functions, functions!  First, students were presented with one of several “Bobby” scenarios to help them better understand functions in real life: Officer Jeff is tracking down Bobby McBobby, the bank robber.  Bobby is taking tons of lefts and rights to try to lose Officer Jeff in the city and to get to his getaway car. Luckily, Jeff has a Helicopter.  All he needs now is three Walden Wolves to help him find the slope between the Bank and the Getaway Car, so that the helicopter can fly right over the buildings and catch Bobby before he gets away.  Using all the components of Bobby's movements, and testing the rise vs the run, the Wolves discovered that figuring out the slope was as easy as taking money from a bank robber!

Later in the week, the Wolves worked to transfer their understanding of the rise, run, and slope in these real-life “Bobby” examples to the abstract, learning that an entire function can be determined simply from two points in a coordinate plane.  After mastering the more abstract versions of functions, the Wolves will move move into using slope lines to determine why equivalent fractions are really equal.  Very impressive, Wolves!

Mr. Carlos has also been working with the Woodpeckers, Wallabies, and Wolves on their soccer skills this week in physical literacy, utilizing zig-zag and circular races and other fun games to build hand-eye coordination and enhance students’ playing abilities. Thank you, “Drill Sergeant Mr. Carlos Sir”!

On to Ancient China!