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!
We are heading towards the end of our first term together, and look what we are learning! We have studied the life of Shakespeare and are nearing the end of Macbeth. We have read tales of ancient Greece and Rome. We have gotten to know the poetry collections of William Wordsworth and William Butler Yeats. We have listened to the music of Domenico Scarlatti, an Italian composer from the 18th century. This Friday, we will prepare a meal for Dr. Cindy Swicegood, who will tell us about Scarlatti's life and work. The artist for this term is Thomas Gainsborough. The students have studied four of his pieces already, including the three below. We will study two more before the term ends.
All students have Spanish four days per week. Students in forms 2 and 3 also study Latin two days per week. The student below is translating a story from Latin to English. As an added challenge, once the story has been translated in English, students are asked to close their books and try translating the English back into Latin.
We sure have come a long way with nature study! Our art teacher has worked with the students on both drawing and watercolor, and it really shows. Although we have time set aside each Wednesday afternoon specifically for nature study, we find that there are often things we want to paint or draw outside of that time. Some students take their journals home on the weekends, and others find interesting specimens around the school that we just have to take the time to draw (like the writing spider that has now made an egg sac outside the kitchen). We try our best to identify them and keep a list of what we find and where we find it. If it is a plant, we also note when we see it flower and fruit. That way we know when to look for those things next year.
The students below are playing a memory game to help them review common fractions and their equivalent percentages. We find these types of games to be a very engaging way to firm up skills that require memorization or lots of practice to master.
On Friday we had an Outdoor Classroom day at South Mountains State Park. One of the rangers took us out in the drizzly weather to help us learn to identify trees by their leaves. We took samples back to school to use to create our own field guides. We practiced identifying the specimens, and then we pressed them to keep. We plan to revisit the same trail in each season to note changes.
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Dr. Jen Spencer is the Director and Lead Teacher of Willow Tree Community School. She enjoys hiking, writing, and discussing philosophy and education reform.