Learning Without Walls
Before spring break, we brainstormed with our students three main questions: What is self directed learning? What are three words that describe self-directed learning? What is a simile that helps us understand self-directed learning through comparison? From that we moved into helping each student develop a guiding question and a few sub questions that would guide their project. Presently, all ⅚ students are in the midst of their investigations and the questions and topics they are pursuing are displayed in the hallways outside each classroom. Before or after school, please take the time to read the variety and breadth of the projects. Students continue to plan upcoming weeks and reflect upon learning.
Students are working in mixed groups to strengthen paragraph writing skills. We have revisited the basic structure of paragraphs that help both readers and writers present information in an organized and detailed fashion. Our work to respond to literature including short stories, or novels helps students write powerful thesis or topic statements, use text evidence to support their claims, embed transitions subtly or deliberately, and craft conclusions in a variety of ways. Students have practiced using outlines, and revision techniques to write clear and organized literary essays from rough drafts.
All classes have finished reading Liar and Spy, and have worked in small groups to create mind maps or discuss various aspects of the novel. Students have chosen an area of focus and are learning to present their thoughts regarding character, theme or setting in a Prezi presentation during computer lab sessions with Carol.
Lynn’s math class has been working on multiplication of fractions. We began our study looking at pictorial (visual) representations and have now moved onto using a combination of pictorial and the more traditional algorithms to solve equations. With academic lab time now being used for math instruction, we are sometimes completing two lessons a day instead of just one. We set up noth lessons in formal math class with Lynn/Bede and then work on these lessons with Jim/Bede in academic lab class.
Peter’s math class just finished a unit on geometry where we covered: area, volume, geometric solids, and nets. We are now in the middle of our investigation of statistics and and covering topics like developing a statistical question, methods of gathering and displaying data, and interpreting data. Next week, each student will develop their own statistical question and go through the four main components of basic statistics.
Lauren’s math class has continued to work on strategies for division and are ready to move into fractions and operations using fractions. We have learned about factors and multiples, primes and composites and used this knowledge to reason about division and multiplication.
Jim’s math class is wrapping up our unit of study on area and perimeter of polygons, volume of prisms and pyramids, cylinders and cones. We will be moving into a study of statistics, looking at mean, median, and mode, line plots, histograms, and creating questions to answer using statistical methods.
Alison’s class has been continuing their work through the algebra text and working on small group extensions and applications of the related algebra concepts.
Peter’s class has finished their investigation into circuits by designing parallel circuits using copper foil and LED lights. Students completed a quiz on circuits, light and the electromagnetic spectrum. We practiced non-fiction reading strategies using textbooks and took Cornell-style notes about Forces, before learning about Newton’s three laws. Students had a short investigation of forces and motion using wheeled carts in the gym. They are now investigating mass, force and acceleration with Jim, using ramps, carts and weights. They’ll learn to collect and graph data for interpretation and analysis.
Lynn’s class is working with Lauren for three weeks for an investigation into light and sight. They’ve learned basic atomic structure, and basic eye anatomy. Monday, students will dissect cow eyes.
In social studies with Jim’s and Lauren’s classes (taught by Lynn and Peter respectively) we have been immersed in our study of Ancient China. After exploring together as a class, students have become “experts” on one invention that came from ancient China. They have taken notes and developed presentations to share their learning with fellow students in a more formal presentation. This is the performance assessment for our China study. We will have a written assessment on Ancient China later. In the coming weeks, we will focusing on the ancient civilizations of the Indus River Valley - once again applying our GRAPES model.
In Lynn’s Spanish 1A class, we have been working on those extra special verbs in Spanish that are a bit unusual - the stem changing verbs! Students are also getting ready to share their posters, songs or poems to help us remember about various grammatical concepts covered so far in our study. This coming week (week of 4/13), students will be presenting to/performing for each other and we will have some new posters to help remind us as we move forward into the last few months of the school year. Upcoming topics include: managing those restaurant conversations; building family trees and looking at occupations. We will complete reading and processing one more novela en español in May.
Please visit Pat’s Spanish Website to check out what students are doing in his 1A class.
Leticia continues to work with our academic lab students one day a week!
Our Friday rotations are in full swing! Lauren’s and Jim’s classes are meeting with Carol for computer classes. Peter’s class in taking volleyball classes from Enrico. Lynn’s class is working with Alison in Polyhedra-ville. We have one more week of these rotations and then our final 3-week rotation will begin so all classes will experience each of these enriching learning opportunities. All four classes began a new art project with Kara this past Friday which will carry us through the end of the year. The project is looking at symbols used to express who we are. Students will be choosing symbolic images that are meaningful to them to be incorporated onto both two and three dimensional art in the last couple of months of school.