(Editor’s Note – With apologies for the woeful lack of photographs…)
For several months Diane and Jeri’s class have been mixed up with Lynn and Mark’s class to have math groups. We have math groups so we can collaborate with the other 5th/6th class. We have math groups every morning except Friday. Every Friday we have assembly and mini-courses. There were multiple different groups, and each group consists of either sixth graders or fifth graders. Most groups focused on different subjects in math. On January 27th we ended math groups for a while.
For the last couple of days, we have studied foreign money in Diane and Jeri’s class. Each kid picked three different coins to observe, record, and share. Everybody found some pretty cool attributes to their coins. Soon we will be learning about the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street.
Written by Caleb
Several weeks ago, Diane and Jeri’s fifth and sixth grade class started a project on the Origin of Species and Darwin’s discoveries during his five year journey on the HMS Beagle. Though we think of Darwin as an important, famous, naturalist and theorist, he wasn’t when he was first on the HMS Beagle. He was just an impatient 22-year old that liked collecting things from nature.
One of Darwin’s most interesting encounters during the second trip of the beagle was in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. During Charles Darwin’s stay in Tierra del Fuego, naturally he tried their delicacy — roasted armadillo. He thought it tasted like chicken, though if a person always ate armadillo and then they ate chicken, they would most likely say that it tastes like armadillo. When Darwin was finished eating, he saw a large stone-like thing protruding from the ground. He took it, dusted, polished, and did what you do when you find a mysterious thing sticking out of the ground. To make a long story short, that thing was really a fossil, a fossil of something that looked like a large version of the thing he had just eaten. A giant armadillo, and that made his mind start to stir. Why would one species that looks so much like another be preserved in stone, while the other is roaming the islands if not the entire world, especially if all of life had been created but 6,000 years ago?
That was Darwin’s question, and the question that he was later to answer thanks to another stop on the HMS Beagle, The Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of many islands each with the native habitat of animals not seen anywhere else on earth. During Darwin’s stay in the Galapagos he found a much broader thing than the fossils. He found that on each island there were different types of finches. This amazed Darwin, but again awakened his curiosity. If there was, in fact, special divine creation, then why would God bother to make a finch for each island? This became the new question for Darwin, and he didn’t learn that till he arrived back in England in the year of 1865. I could go on endlessly about Darwin, but I’ll end now. All around, it is a very interesting project and I encourage you to learn of Darwin and his trip on the HMS Beagle.
Species Study (in the classroom)
We are doing a species study. This is where we each get to pick an animal to study in class. Diane showed us a wide selection of books. Then we voted for our first, second and third choices. For example, somebody in our class was assigned the African Elephant. He or she would complete six sections of notes: Body, Diet, Habitat, Life Cycle, Community, and Class. Diane strongly recommended to read the book thoroughly before looking for other information on the internet. After this, we planned to write a story in first person, imagining ourselves as the animal. To do this we would number each section of our note list and then we would complete that section of the writing.
It was great to learn about aspects of these different animals. There are lots of facts to learn about the animals’ biology as well as their community and environment. It is also important to understand how they interact with each other and the environment. Some of the animals the kids are studying are endangered for many different reasons: some by poachers, global warming, predators, or disease. These all are very important topics that the children are learning through this process. I think that this is a great learning opportunity for me and my fellow classmates.
Species Study (Art)
In Diane and Jeri’s class we are doing a species study. On Tuesday January 17th we went to the zoo to study our special animal that we chose to take notes on. After the trip we started to do more research on our species. This work time is called species study. Species study is connected with Art. Everyday when we go to art we are told to bring our books on our animal so we can study their look and draw them. We are now making clay sculptures of our animals and we have the choice to make our animals out of something else after the clay, such as: wire, fabric, a painting, sketch, watercolor, etc. My species is a mountain gorilla. For my art project I am of course doing clay first, then an acrylic painting of a mountain gorilla.
What Darwin Never Knew
This January (2017), Diane and Jeri’s class watched a documentary that was called “What Darwin Never Knew.” We are doing a study of evolution and how Charles Darwin played a huge role in what we know today. We watched this video to further our knowledge beyond what Darwin knew. The main focus of the film is how evolution works — the genes of two parents mixing and making a child with parts of each parent and a mix of their own mutations. We learned about the coding of DNA and how it affects who we are. It’s amazing how the great Charles Darwin came up with the theory of evolution, which is just a fact that everyone now knows to be true, without actually knowing how it worked.
STOMP is a musical activity that the class decided to do this year in music. STOMP is basically making music with everyday objects such as: basketballs, plungers, plastic bags, your feet, and a lot of metal objects such as pots and pans — really just any object that you can think of. This activity works especially well if you’re looking to create beats and cool tunes, not if you are going to make a song. This is a fun group activity because each person can have a different role in a beat that is simple and fun. With a little practice, you and a group of friends can even put on a little show. There is also a pretty popular video on the internet that shows just how intense and crazy this can get. Our class is working on creating a tune with plungers, plastic bags and our own hands and feet. If you’re interested in the STOMP video check out this link.
On January 17th, Diane and Jeri’s group went on a trip to the zoo for their species studies. First we had lunch. Then we divided by our own species — big mammals, small mammals, reptiles, etc. Then we split up into groups and went to see our animals or ones that were similar. We brought our nature journals and we observed and described and drew about the animal we chose. After that we went to see other animals and explore the rest of the zoo. Then it was time to get back to class. We had an awesome time and can’t wait to visit the zoo again.
New Hoagie Orders
Lynn and Mark’s group (the neighboring class) always does hoagie orders, while Diane and Jeri’s group does pizza sales; they switch off every week.
Both the orders give very diverse lunch options. For pizza, the pizza sale offers: plain cheese pizza, tomato pie, and white pizza for vegetarians, and bacon and pepperoni pizza for meat lovers. The hoagie order also offered vegetarian options, but they decided to try out new food choices. The following is on the previous hoagie order: Italian hoagie, cheese hoagie, turkey hoagie, tuna sandwich, veggie patty sandwich, turkey sandwich, rotisserie chicken, box lunch, chips, chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, Oreo cookies, applesauce, diced fruit cup, and 100% fruit juice. Not being able to eat meat, I felt like the veggie option could use some upgrades, because the main food part of the lunch was predominantly meat, and the vegetarian options lacked essential flavors. Now the veggie options are very delicious. What I believe is the favorite so far is the veggie patty sandwich. It includes spinach, cheese, and of course a veggie patty. Lynn and Mark’s group definitely made a great choice.
The Caldecott Award
The Caldecott Award is a book award that happens all around the world every year. Two awards are given each year; they are the Caldecott Award and the Newbery Award. The Caldecott Award is for illustration and the Newbery Award is for writing. One award is given for a book that has the best pictures and another award is given to a book that is the most well written. The award being given this January was for best illustrations. Our whole school voted for what book they thought would win. After the vote, our librarian got all of the votes together and tallied up the winner. The picture book that we thought was going to win was…. Du Iz Tak. This is a very funny book about bugs who don’t speak English. They speak their own language. Unfortunately, the book we chose did not win. The picture book that won this year was… Radiant Child. This was also a very good book and the pictures were really well done, too. Even though the book we chose did not win, I think that everyone in school would agree that it was fun to vote!
Circuits in Science
The 5/6 grade classes have been recently working on building with circuits in science. Some people worked alone and some people worked in groups. It can be kind of frustrating because sometimes you complete your circuit and it just doesn’t work or the bulb burns out.
We could use wires, batteries, lights, motors, buzzers, and common craft materials such as tape, paper and cardboard. The projects range from working automobiles to wood letters that light up. One interesting project was a machine that had markers attached to it and so it would draw scribbles on the paper by itself. Another one is a marble run that lights up when it passes certain checkpoints. I’m working on a boat which is pretty frustrating because not only do you have to get the mechanics to work but the boat has to float!
After the first half of the school year, a lot of things happen during the second half, one of them being new mini-courses! If you didn’t know, mini-courses are Friday morning activities that you can sign up for (during the winter only 3rd & 4th grade and up) that are for about an hour or so. For example, we are playing strategic games (Chess, Checkers, Stratego, etc.), doing photography, woodworking, and much more! These Friday morning activities are for filling in spare time, meeting and working with people around you, and have fun (simultaneously). These activities are started by teachers on their own, teachers working together, and sometimes students run mini-courses as well (5th & 6th graders can run MCs)!
Pen and Ink in Art
In art we have been using pen and ink to make triptych. A triptych is a picture that tells a story in three different paintings. We made our triptychs with pen and ink.
The ink is made out of different types of soot. The pen is like a modernized quill pen, but it doesn’t have a quill. The body of the pen looks like a regular pen. The tip has a slit at the top. It’s kind like a straw to hold the ink, so you can draw. Every so often you need to re-dip the pen into the ink. The pens come in different tip sizes depending on how thick you want the line to be. On my Triptych, all of the pictures are related to snow. There a snowman, a tree covered in snow, and snowflakes.
Starting after winter break, we began work on a panto, a play that takes a familiar story (usually a fairy tale), and twists the plot, adds music, and gives it more comedy. This tradition was made popular in England, and is starting to work its way into the U.S. We took a popular fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel, and turned it into a panto — planning the plot, writing the script, making and choosing the songs, making the props, and performing the play. This is written, and we are in the final stage of script-writing, just making the final edits to the last scenes. This (for me) has been the best thing we’ve done all year.
The Miquon School always celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. so we do not forget what has done. This year for Martin Luther King day, the school held an assembly to celebrate Martin’s life. The fifth and sixth graders decided to sing some songs that we chose ourselves, which included: We Shall Overcome, This Land is Your Land, and others. The day was not to mourn for his death, but to be happy for his life. It was also to be grateful of what he did and changed.
Good of the School
Once a month on Friday, the sixth graders host Good of the School for all of Miquon (except the nursery). During Good of the School, kids will raise their hands and say what problems they’ve encountered around the school. For example, in the latest Good of the School the problem that was resolved was the problem of the younger children’s tag game interfering with the older kids’ All Campus tag game, and vice versa.
After everybody has shared what they wanted to about problems they’ve seen, the three sixth graders who were chosen to lead Good of the School that week will pick one big problem that they think needs to be resolved, and will say that problem in front of the whole school, then ask for solutions to that problem. Now for the second half of Good of the School, kids will raise their hands and give solutions to this big problem. After all the solutions have been given, the three sixth graders will decide on very good solutions. After hearing the solution, everybody will go back to their classrooms for the rest of the day at school. After another month passes the same thing will happen just with another problem. But there’s one difference, the group that led Good of the School last month does a small skit on the solution that the school came up with at the last Good of the School.