Wallabies (Grades 3-4) and Wolves (Grades 5-6)
Continuing with their Social Studies on Ancient China, the Wallabies and Wolves focused on the essential question, “How do social issues affect people’s acceptance of government?” After breaking down the question the previous week (by discussing what social issues were and the reasons people accept government), students then studied how governments thrive and decline through the idea of the “Dynastic Cycle” and the Ancient Chinese belief of the “Mandate of Heaven.” Students broke into groups and researched three major dynasties from that time period (Shang, Zhou, and Qin), finding out how the dynasty began, inventions and contributions during the period, changes that occurred throughout the dynasty, and how the dynasty ended. Miss Heather noted that the students worked very hard to read challenging texts and understand and record information in their own words. So far, some of the concepts they have been introduced to are dynasty, legalism, autocracy, filial piety, abacus, Confucianism, Daoism, Silk Road, Middle Kingdom, and yin and yang. The Wallabies’ and Wolves’ brain maps about Ancient China are very impressive!
Integrating Language Arts into social studies, the Wallabies and Wolves explored a list of Ancient Chinese inventions and people and each chose one topic of interest. They then worked diligently to write three well-developed, open-ended questions that will serve as the basis of their research papers. Using a research paper folder and notecards to organize their facts, students searched one source at a time to create a bibliography. This research will continue through the remainder of the semester, helping students form a solid understanding of research practices for future projects. Additionally, the Wallabies and Wolves continued their character analyses of "Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan," which they are thoroughly enjoying. Students also worked on reading comprehension passages about China’s Ancient Dynasties and the “Mandate of Heaven,” individualized spelling lists and vocabulary (with roots -ful and -fy introduced), and independent readings of nonfiction texts about the skeletal system to connect with their Science.
In Science, the Wallabies worked on remembering the names of bones by standing up and touching the body parts as they said each bone (i.e. - "cranium" while touching head, "clavicle" while touching collarbone, etc.), going faster and faster without looking at a skeleton diagram for reference. Students continued to use text and videos on their ipads to explore bones and the circulatory system and have added the circulatory system to their human body diagrams. Students watched a very realistic video of the heart pumping and noticed and discussed the importance of valves only allowing blood to flow one way. They also watched a Brain Pop video about the digestive system and made many connections on parts of the body on brain map (kidney, liver, bladder, pancreas, large intestines, small intestines, stomach, esophagus, mouth) and added more facts about each. Students independently remarked about the "interconnectedness" of the body systems. On Friday they presented their brain maps and human skeletons to students shadowing at Walden.
The Wolves worked hard daily on their own bone “rap” to help them remember the bones in the body and their location. They used online rhyming dictionaries as well as trial and error to produce something they were all happy with! Using the website kidshealth.org and other websites and videos of choice, the Wolves completed their brain map about all of the major body systems -- choosing facts they felt were interesting and important and making many connections between those facts. On Friday they, too, presented their brain map and bone rap to the Wallabies and to students shadowing.
In Math, Mr. Carlos reported that the Wolves have shown real mastery of graphs and have moved on to taking a closer look at what the symbols they have been using (negative signs, axis, etc.) really mean. They have also explored the different categories of numbers -- counting numbers, whole numbers, and integers -- and noticed how only one of these categories contains negative numbers. Through their studies, the Wolves have seen how many more symbols math has to offer instead of words, including inequalities, absolute values, and -- very soon -- what is between all those numbers on a number line.
Miss Bonnie and Mr. Carlos have worked hard with the Wallabies to practice every kind of multiplication technique out there! (Splitting, drawing, traditional, Box, and Singaporean.) And, they are proud to report that all students can multiply two and three digit numbers by a one digit number. Go, Wallabies, go! Using IXL on their iPads, students have also been briefly introduced to letters in math, and they have been having fun creating their own math word problems. By identifying the common vocabulary for math word problems (split up, each, between, together, give away, etc.), students have learned to look at each problem as its own little universe and are able to create their own word problems, paying particular attention to the word choices in their stories.
In Creative Arts, the Wallabies and Wolves worked on Chinese Scroll paintings. First, students practiced writing their name in Chinese Characters, learned about the importance and symbolism of the plum tree blossoms, and began creating their own plum trees by blowing "ink" (black paint mixed with water) with a straw to create the trunk and branches. After their ink dried, students used different hues of pink and red to paint blossoms with q-tips. They also wrote Chinese characters to "sign" their work, rolled up their painting, and tied it with a chosen ribbon for safekeeping. Truly beautiful creations!
Mr. Carlos kept the Woodpeckers, Wallabies, and Wolves moving in Physical Literacy. He and retired philosophy professor (and Community Advisor), Dr. Hoyt Edge, continued to work with students on the Ancient Chinese martial arts practice of Tai Chi. Mr. Carlos also introduced students to the Ancient Chinese game of Cuju, which is similar to soccer. All students were able to practice catching, stopping, and changing speeds through games of Keep Away, Cornerball, and Soccer Scrimmages. Parents, the kids are ready for a soccer match soon! And, be sure to quiz them on reading nutrition labels and ingredients lists on food, as all students can now identify calories, serving size, fats, carbs (sugar and fiber), and protein; and they know that the first thing listed in the ingredient list is the most most prominent.
On the last day of school before Thanksgiving Break, Walden had seven prospective students spend the day to shadow. In the Wallabies and Wolves class, Walden and prospective students worked together to complete a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activity as a part of Critical Thinking. Students were grouped into 3 and 4 person teams and given this challenge: "How can you fold/roll/shape 1 piece of paper to hold up the most books possible?" Realizing that the only materials available were paper and tape, most students were baffled, sure that the task was impossible. One group ended up scrunching their paper into a "potato" shape and covering it with tape - then stacking books on top. This group held up 22 books before they toppled. Another group created a box-type structure by folding their paper, which held up 30 books before their box got crushed and their books touched the table. The other two groups both ended up rolling their paper into a cylinder shape and then testing it - one rolled up lengthwise, producing a taller cylinder, and the other by width, creating a shorter cylinder. The taller cylinder held up 39 books and the shorter cylinder held up 42 books! The students came together and thought of structures in real life that use the cylindrical shapes of columns and pillars. Miss Heather and Mr. Carlos discussed this architectural technique with regard to their upcoming study of Greece, encouraging students to keep an eye out for it.
Woodpeckers (Grades 1-2)
In Ancient China Social Studies, the Woodpeckers focused on the words “culture” and “celebration.” Throughout the week, they discussed their own explanations of these words using the “think, pair, share” discussion technique, drew pictures depicting these words, and made a Brain Map to further illustrate their ideas. Ms. B introduced students to The Chinese New Year celebration through illustrations in books and a video on their ipads, where the Woodpeckers learned about the beginnings of firecrackers, the lion dance, and the meaning of the red banners that decorate Chinese doors. After watching a video of the ball dropping in NYC for the American New Year celebrations, students compared the two celebrations, utilizing a Venn diagram to show similarities and differences.
Another focus was the essential question, “What is a wall and what does it provide?” With the Great Wall of China in mind, students brainstormed ideas for their brain map and discussed whether or not walls were good or bad. Students then defined the term “scarce” for their Word Wall and Vocabulary Books, and discussed whether or not scarcity could lead to conflict and, if so, what might be some ways to mitigate it. Students reviewed their unit on Ancient China by playing “hangman” and the telephone game with vocabulary terms and Chinese concepts.
In Language Arts, the Woodpeckers continued to work on their daily comprehension passages, and were introduced to synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms. They also began to discuss why stories have a beginning, middle, and end, and what characteristics each of these sections have. (They came up with “Once Upon a Time,” characters, a problem, things get exciting, and happily ever after.) Ms. B then read “Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China” to the class throughout the week, culminating in a discussion about the similarities and differences with the Cinderella fairy tale they knew. This reading was a springboard for discussing vocabulary words that were unfamiliar, as well as helping students with ideas for their own stories that they are writing. (Students also enjoyed sharing their letter “D” for the week in their ABC books.)
The Woodpeckers were busy in Creative Arts this week, completing several projects inspired by their Ancient China studies. Students finished decorating their dragon masks, painted their Chinese fans with water colors, and worked on their drums. After listening to “Long is the Dragon: Chinese Writing for Children,” Ms. B’s class practiced their own Chinese lettering, and added this writing and other decorations to their drums. And, for Thanksgiving, each student made a colorful construction paper pumpkin with strips of paper describing what they are thankful for, while a parent volunteer lead students in making a pinecone turkey.
The Woodpeckers are getting more comfortable using their ipads and were able to log in on their own and practice their IXL Math, which focused on skip counting by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s, completing skill pages, as well as continuing to study geometrical shapes. At home, students researched the names for five- and six-sided shapes, and later added hexagon and pentagram to their shape chart. They also learned about 2D vs. 3D shapes, and sorted, drew, constructed, and labeled them for practice. And, for some bragging rights: The Woodpeckers are now able to add two, three, and four digit numbers on their hand-made Chinese Abacuses!
In Science, the Woodpeckers are also gaining practice with measuring, recording data in their Lab Books, and putting results in graphs. Experiments this week continued to focus on the concepts of aerodynamics, gravity, friction, and force. Students flew their paper airplanes again; threw a ball in the classroom with varying levels of force; found things outside that fly (including a piece of grass with a propellor-like top); and practiced dropping different size rocks and recording how long it took for them to fall. To further illustrate the idea of “force,” the Woodpeckers completed a STEM lab on “Push and Pull” utilizing simple materials; they also completed an experiment on gravity by comparing how fast a pipe cleaner stick-figure fell vs. a pipe-cleaner stick figure with a coffee filter attached. Students are always given time after experiments to explain their construction, record their data, and discuss findings. As a link back to Chinese studies, Ms. B. helped students review Ancient Chinese inventions and their purposes through interactive games.
Our Guest Speaker of the week was Ms. Dawn, a global reform advocate from Rollins College, who lead a discussion with all classes about Global Goals. The Woodpeckers discussed what “global” and “goal” meant and watched a short video explaining different types of world goals. The Woodpeckers discussed their own ideas for goals they could create for Walden. Suggestions included compost and recycling, picking up trash, recycling rain water, starting an earth club, selling things to go to the poor, sponsoring a child, and purchasing Christmas gifts for the needy. The Woodpeckers are excited to help their community!
The Woodpeckers continue to enjoy their weekly Spanish class with Miss Rocio, and learned the months of the year this week. Cooperative Learning is also still a priority and students participated in a non-verbal ball-passing game this week.
On to the study of Ancient Greece before the winter holidays!