Stories of our classroom from the month of March and the first week of April:
Written by Ma’at
For fifth and sixth graders the book club is a great way to explore different books. Amy, the library teacher, chooses the the book being read. From experience and from friends sharing what they thought about the book club book, Amy seems to choose a wide range of great books. The book club is always during lunch choice, (30 minutes) and lunch, (30 minutes), taking up one hour. Amy hosts the book club and provides yummy snacks and drinks. Jen and Rossana (tutors) join all the participants and also share what they thought about the book. After the book club meeting, Amy announces the book and hangs flyers to remind everyone when it is. It is very fun and helps widen your book choices. If you have not found a book that is just right for you, the book club is the place to be.
All About The Book Fair
Every year we have the option to buy books from our annual book fair at school. This happens during conference week. A week before conference week, when we go to library, Amy sets up a copy of each of the books that they’re selling. We get sheets of paper and we write the name of the books that we like and the price of them. It’s basically our wish list. Amy makes a copy of our wish list for us.
After our parents have their conference, they can go down to the library. Amy gives the wish list to our parents and our parents can decide to buy books. If they do decide to buy books, they can make the books a surprise or they can just say, “You can give it to them.” Overall, I love getting to pick out new books and hopefully getting a chance to read them! It also benefits our school and the Big Blue Marble Bookstore. The Big Blue Marble is owned by one of our classmate’s family.
New Math Groups
We have started our second session of math groups, where we most of us have changed teachers and around half of the kids in our math groups have changed,too. It’s interesting working with new teachers, because every teacher has a new style, making this next session feel like a totally new class. Homework, for me, has stayed more or less the same, but for some people it probably changed. Since we are working with kids from both classes, we get to work with kids we don’t normally work with!
The Panto – Creating It
Along time ago, before the performance, we, of course, had to create it. The first thing we did was to pick a familiar story on which to base it. We got into groups of two or three and turned a familiar a story into just one sentence. After that, each group presented its idea for a panto version of their story. Then we all voted on the one we liked best! (Hansel and Gretel won.)
After we knew what story we were going to do the panto about, we started to plan the twelve scenes. After planning scenes generally, we wrote several versions of the script and changed the lyrics to some songs that we could fit in the panto.
After all of that, we finally…chose ROLES! We also chose the jobs we wanted to do to prepare for the panto, such as: costumes, props, and scenery. While that work was happening, Jeri was pulling people aside to practice our lines.
It felt like a while before we really started rehearsing. But finally we did! On April 6th we performed the panto for the parents and families and on april 7th we performed it for the whole school!
The Panto Performances
Recently, Diane and Jeri’s class performed a pantomime, a play using a specific story or fairy tale, then twisting it in different directions and forms for a funny, musical play. The panto was about Hansel and Gretel finding a candy house in the woods, accompanied by a bird and a dog and a fairy.
Red Riding Hood helps Hansel and Gretel using Siri, and there are advertisements for pointless things by pointless companies. Hansel and Gretel encounter an old lady who turns out to be a witch. The witch defeats Darth Vader, then the witch gets “roasted” and the kids go back home.
They realize that the evil witch was the grandmother to whom they were supposed to deliver bread. This panto included a selection of old songs that fit with the story well, corny jokes, references from other stories, and more.
[Ed.: The two performances – on Thursday, April 6th and Friday, April 7th were recorded. We intend to publish a link to the recording(s) on this blog once they are edited. While you are waiting for that, enjoy this trailer, made by group member, Maia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cliy4URKbM
This conference week, Diane and Jeri’s and Lynn and Mark’s groups were studying the Harlem Renaissance. To take it to the full extent, we invited Jackie to our classroom as a substitute teacher. Her ancestor was a slave in the south back when slavery was legal. We were very lucky, because as a kid Jackie grew up eating southern soul food). So on the last few days of conference week, Jackie brought in some recipes and ingredients from home and we all helped cook Hoppin John, greens, and cornbread. When everything was finished cooking, we waited until lunch, then we set everything out in a buffet and dug in. Everything was very delicious!!!
Romare Bearden Collages
During conference week, the teachers decided to do a project based on Romare Bearden. We read a book with his artwork in it. We discussed what he was displaying and also how he was telling a story with the collages. After this we were told to find a structure in Miquon and to do a sketch of the building or play structure. This was a rough sketch, so we weren’t supposed to put in too much detail. In the afternoon, we were told to do a drawing on the actual paper that we were going to do the collages on. Then we cut out construction paper, wallpaper, and pictures from magazines. We also used different media such as: crayons, markers, and colored pencils. Now that we are finished this project, I think we are going to pin them up on the wall. I really enjoyed this project. This has made me think about using other media when I do arts and crafts.
This year Diane and Jeri’s class started working on a music composing site called “Noteflight.” Twice a week, in music class, we get on Noteflight and our teacher, Diego, gives us an assignment. For example, Diego might say “write a piece of music using this drum beat.” He started having us work on Noteflight to increase our musical “ear,” and to give us more practice writing music. We do not just use Noteflight in music class; some people use it during choice time and at home. I personally have written about twenty songs using Noteflight this year. It’s amazing what you can do when given the right tools.
Beginning Civil War Study
At the beginning of the first week of April, our class commenced our study of The American Civil War. We started by reading a magazine on the topic, (to form a general structure), and we talked about some of the reasons for conflict. Then we started reading A Soldier’s Heart by Gary Paulsen. As the second week began, we started looking more in-depth at different parts, such as which states seceded and why. As the year goes on, we plan on studying further about specific topics, and even going as far as to each do an individual study on certain aspects, and really going into fine details. As the year draws to a close, maybe about a month before, we plan on going on a class trip to important sites during and after the war.
New Book Groups
In March, Diane and Jeri’s group started book groups again. Diane, Jeri, Amy, and Jen introduced the books to us. They were: NightJohn and Sarny by G. Paulsen, Elijah of Buxton by C. Paul Curtis, Jayhawker by P. Beatty, and Day of Tears by J. Lester. All of the books had something to do with the practice of slavery in the United States.
Each person in the class listed their choices in order of best to worst. The teachers used that to put you in a book group. Book group happens Thursday afternoons. At book group, you talk about what you read and share your ideas. The teacher decides how much you should read for the next Thursday. Once you have finished the book group book, your group prepares a presentation to share with the rest of the group. I can’t wait till next Thursday!
Diane and Jeri’s 5/6 grade class recently started a study of slavery and some of the prominent figures of the time period. During this project we learned about many interesting things that included monuments, the treatment of the slaves, and then we had a long open space of time at the end of two days to focus on a few of the historical figures that made the difference that the nation needed to end slavery. During this study, we mainly focused on the abolitionists who worked to stop slavery or just had strong opinions about the vileness of slavery. The most well known of all anti-slavery actions was the Underground Railroad. Some of the most famous people of the time doing the work of abolitionist groups were: Levi Coffin, the “President of the Underground Railroad,” William Still, the “Father of the Underground Railroad,” and of course the one and only Harriet Tubman. These people did incredible things during their lifetime and after, for though they are dead mortally, they will never be dead morally.
Lynn Hughes is a 5th and 6th grade teacher at The Miquon School who has been a teacher at Miquon for 50 years. After this school year, she will be retiring. We will miss Lynn, and we will celebrate in many ways. Until that time, we are searching for another teacher to replace her. Well, no one can replace her.
Before and during conference week, people looking for a job to teach came to our classrooms and we had a lesson with them. It was interesting to see and to be taught by different teachers that I never had seen before. All of the candidates were great, but we don’t know which ones will be elected yet, or which ones we like. All in all, I am looking forward to seeing a new teacher at Miquon, but I am not looking forward to Lynn leaving.
Diane and Jeri’s class did some cool experiments in science class with mystery powders. We had to identify 4 different “mystery powders” by feeling them, seeing them, and sniffing them. It was a lot of fun. We tried lots of different ways to figure out what the powders were. After we rubbed some of the powders between our fingers, we smelled them and then we tried to guess what the powders were. Some of our guesses were wrong and some of them were right. Kate gave us points for each correct guess that we made. The next time we do an experiment like this, I think it would be exciting to use taste as a way to figure out what the powders are — can anyone say cocoa powder? 🙂
Every year at Miquon we have fall, winter, and spring mini-courses.
This year we started our spring mini-courses on the seventh of April and will end mid-to-late May. Each different season of mini-courses are for different age groups. In spring, mini-courses include first through sixth grade. Every Friday after assembly, we meet with the adult or adults who supervise our mini-course.
There are Minicourses in every room except nursery and kindergarten. Miquon has mini-courses such as Yearbook (for sixth graders only), Barbecue games, shopping and preparing food, making plarn, paper bead creation, paper airplanes, workbench, dance party, outside art, card games, magical creatures, and Legos.
YearBook is the only one of the mini-courses that is only for sixth graders. Only eight of the sixteen sixth graders who applied got in because there wasn’t much room.
What we do in the Yearbook mini-course is take pictures of the graduating class members, and make a book of pictures and words. Each sixth grader gets to make their own page where they can put things like pictures of themselves and their family and what they want to be when they grow up. We also take pictures of all the staff at Miquon and of all the classes. When all of the sixth graders have finished their speeches, we also put those in the yearbook.
When the year is over kids can look back at their year and enjoy the memories.