Last week, students in Forms 1 and 2 worked with Mrs. Andy Smith to explore the concepts of perimeter, area, and volume. They measured lots of things! How many linoleum tiles did it take to cover the floor in our room? Do we have enough border to make frames around each of the prints in our James Whistler gallery in the hall? If we wanted to paint the room, how much paint would we need? If one quart of paint covers 100 square feet, would it be better to buy quarts or gallons? (We had to check the prices at Lowe's for that!) Of course, while we are working on reasoning and concepts, we can't let our facts get rusty. Games make multiplication practice fun!
Our high schoolers continue to develop strong math reasoning through the use of the Interactive Mathematics Program (http://mathimp.org/
). This program integrates arithmetic, algebra, geometry, pre-calculus, and statistics using problems that look a lot like brain teasers. The logic is that it does no good to memorize an algorithm and practice it forty or fifty times (as in traditional math programs) if the student cannot reason when to use it in real life. Here is a sample problem (from p. 276 of Book 1):Three travelers met one night along the Overland Trail. The decided to have dinner together. Sam had seven cans of beans to contribute and Kara contributed five cans of beans. Jock didn't have any beans, but the three cooked up what they had. Each ate the same amount. After dinner, Jock offered the 84 cents in his pocket and said that the other two could divide it up in an appropriate way. The all agreed that in this way everyone would have contributed a fair share to the dinner. Jock thought that Kara's share of the money should be 35 cents, but Sam and Kara convinced him that this was wrong.1. Explain why Jock might have thought that Kara's share was 35 cents.2. Then explain what Kara's correct share should be.
We had several visitors at school this week. Paola, our Spanish immersion teacher, brought three of her friends to teach us a game from South America that we could use to practice our Spanish. On Friday, Ginger Hicks (Sarah's aunt) came to share with us about her travels. Ms. Hicks is the COO for an environmental agency that aids corporations in preventing and cleaning up disasters like the BP oil spill. Since our Form 3 and 4 students have been studying the Himalayan region in geography, Ms. Hicks brought pictures from her trip to the base camp at Mt. Everest. She shared her experiences in Tibet and talked about the culture there.
After Ms. Hick's talk, we all grabbed our fishing gear and walked over to the lake at Gardner Webb to meet our new friends from the Fishing Club. Some of these students are competitive anglers, and others fish for recreation. They took time to show students who were new to fishing how to bait and cast. It was wonderful to spend the afternoon outside!
This week, Willow Tree students were busy, busy, busy. We finished the first act of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and began learning basic yoga positions. We drew floor plans of our homes and labeled them in Latin. We practiced reciting the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson and Edward Lear. We rehearsed prepositions in Spanish and listened to a new Spanish folk tale. We recorded events from our history reading onto our class timelines and into our personal Books of Centuries. In science, we created journals and learned how to record and interpret data. In the pictures below, students are playing with Newton's Laws of Motion using different types of balls.
This afternoon, we took advantage of the sunshine to clean out the garden bed we build last year. The kale had gone to seed, so we will probably see baby kale plants very soon. We had to deal with a colony of fire ants that had decided to move into the loose, rich soil. We also found other species that had made our garden home, including stink bugs, spiders, and an enormous larvae. Once the bed was cleared, we built a new compost bin using pallets. This is where we will dispose of our compost-able lunch leftovers. Students will take turns turning and watering the pile each week. Once our outdoor projects were completed, we came inside to decide what to plant next week in our fall/winter garden.
We are terribly excited about our next outdoor adventure! Next Friday, we will travel to Mars Hill, NC to participate in the research at Big Bald Banding Station! This is where volunteer scientists capture, study, and release song birds and raptors. They use the data to track populations and migration patterns. This is going to be a wonderful experience for our kids!
Last week we challenged ourselves in several different ways. First, we spent an afternoon at the Broyhill Adventure Course. After getting harnessed up and conducting a safety check, the students were coached to a height of their choice on the tower. Some children chose to start small and allow their courage to build gradually, while others went straight to the top and were then lowered down by their ropes. It was scary, but there was a great sense of personal accomplishment when those fears were overcome! The children also got to experience the giant swing and conduct some team-building exercises. It was evident that they have grown in their ability to work together since the beginning of the year. They really listened to one another and respected each others' ideas. They also did a great job supporting one another in challenging themselves without pressuring one another to do more than they were comfortable with.
We also challenged ourselves in our school work. Up until this point, our Spanish classes have focused on oral conversation. Last week, we added literary language by listening to the story, Tres Cerditos, or The Three Little Pigs, and then illustrating it in book form. The books do not contain an English translation, so the students had to use their illustrations to explain what was happening. Literary language is much different (and much more complex!) than conversational language. In addition to Spanish, our students also study Latin. Our Latin book is based on the history if Pompeii, ending with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It happened that their science study coincided with this through the study of volcanoes. Of course, we had to make one!
Finally, we went to South Mountains State Park for the third time this year. We decided early in the year that we would visit the same place through the seasons and note the changes. Through these trips, the students have learned to identify trees, insects, fish, diseases, and parasites. They have also learned about the mountain and river ecosystems through direct contact. We may have some future park rangers at our school, but our main goal is to make ours a school of naturalists--to foster a love of creation that will lead to good stewardship of our Father's world.
Today we finished Act 1 of Twelfth Night, Shakespeare's hilarious comedy about mistaken identity. Here is an account of what has happened so far (student narration):
There were two twins who were separated [shipwrecked during a storm] and each swam to different islands. One, named Viola, went to the duke to work as a boy even though she wasn't one. The duke sent her to Olivia because he loved her and asked if she loved him. She didn't, but she did love Viola, so she told one of her workers to give him a ring he had dropped and don't let him refuse to take it even though Viola didn't drop a ring.
We also began learning to read in Spanish today. So far, our study has been completely oral, and now we know why: Spanish spellings do not sound the same as English!
Our artist this term is Mary Cassatt. Today we studied this painting, titled Little Girl in a Blue Armchair. The students looked carefully at the piece, trying to imprint every detail on the eye. Then we turned the pictures face down and told all the things we remembered before making a sketch from memory. Then, just for fun, we made up stories about what might have happened to the little girl. Here are a few of the children's ideas. See if you can match your student with his/her story!
1) The girl's little sister got her in trouble and so now she's in a Time Out.
2) The girl is a super model posing for a picture.
3) The girl is relaxing while watching cartoons.
4) The girl is a space-time traveller who finds herself stuck in 1865 and is trying to figure out how to get home.
5) The girl got sap on her hand while playing in a pine tree and then touched the back of her head. She is now trying to figure out how to unstick her hand from her hair.
6) The girl has been playing with the dog and got fleas on her neck, so she is scratching.