Every couple of months there are books selected by teachers and faculty members for the students to read. The teachers and faculty members who choose the books also present them, giving a short book talk about the books and why they chose them. After the presentations, the students are given index card to write their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices. The teachers take these cards and try to put the students in their ideal book group. They use the top three system because it allows the students to have a backup choice that they still like if they don’t get into their favorite book group.
Each book group has four to six students in it and one teacher. The book groups usually last five weeks, with a couple week period separating the end of book group and the start of the new one. We are currently finishing the second book group of the school year.
The books that we are reading in this group are: A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, Holes, by Louis Sachar, Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis, and Jean Ferris’s Once Upon a Marigold.
Longitude and Latitude
Recently in Diane and Mark’s class, we have been looking at longitude and latitude. We started by looking at ways to locate ourselves in the room, but that quickly moved onto longitude and latitude. Longitude and latitude is probably the most effective way to locate things over a large scale.
Longitude and latitude work in a simple way. The coordinate of Y (up and down) is displayed in a line down the middle. The coordinate of X (Left to right) is displayed with a line that cuts through the middle. Numbers go across both lines. Some of the numbers are negative. Left and down from the origin point are negative, and up and right are not. When using a Cartesian coordinate grid, the X coordinate always comes first. However, the Y coordinate ALWAYS comes first when determining place by latitude and longitude.
If I told you: “Find me on a map, my coordinates are 28, -17. You would look on the map and look: 28 up, and 17 left. Since up and down come first and 28 is not -28, it would be up. And left and right come next, so -17 is 17 left because it is negative. If the -17 were 17, instead of -17, it would be 17 right.
Overall this project was extremely fun and one of my favorites this year.
Cheaper By The Dozen
In Diane and Mark’s group, we have this thing called Story. Story happens each morning besides Friday, because on Fridays, we have assembly. Story goes from 8:25 am.-9:00.am. Usually Diane or Mark reads the story aloud to us. During this time, we are allowed to have a fidget or a piece of handwork, for example: knitting, sewing, the Rubix Cube, putty, etc. The most important thing about Story is the actual book!
We are currently reading a book called Cheaper By The Dozen, by Ernestine Gilbreth Carey and Frank Bunker Gilbreth. The book was written by two of the twelve children in the Gilbreth family. The book tells the reader about all of the silly stories and fun memories that happen in the Gilbreth family.
One of my personal favorite scenarios in the book was when the father, Frank Sr., brought home two phonographs for the children and told them to put one in the girls’ bathroom and one in the boys’. All the children were quite excited, until Father announced that they would be able to learn German and French with the records. The children were forced to listen to the records day after day after day until they sounded reasonably good. Then one time at dinner, all of the children were talking in French, but Father was the only one who couldn’t speak it. He said that their accents were not good enough, but Mother thought their accents sounded fine. Father was so mad that he listened to the records all night long!
I highly recommended this book; it is so much fun to read aloud!
Since January, we had a visiting PEL fellow in our classroom named Matt. Matt taught us some thinking games, and one of them was called Beach Waffles. Beach Waffles is a game where you pick a word or phrase, like somebody’s name, and you break it up into chunks and see if any syllables in the word sound close to another word. You describe the close-sounding words that you picked in a different way, and people have to guess whose name you picked by adding all the words together. For example, “a stomach muscle” + “a stinging insect” = Ab + bee (Abby!).
Trip to Hugh’s Clock Shop
On February 1st, Diane and Mark’s class took a field trip to Hugh’s Clock Shop. Our class took this took this field trip because we have been studying time. We split the year (365 and one fourth days) into our own months. We also read a book called The Man Who Made Time Travel, about John Harrison, who invented a clock that could keep time on a boat. We even learned that a clock maker is actually called a horologist.
The shop was in New Jersey! When we arrived, Mark (the clock store owner) told us that the store had first opened as a sewing machine repair shop. Mark’s dad had built the shop because there was extra land next to the funeral home he owned. The store became a clock shop when Mark’s father and brother wanted a clock for the funeral home but they couldn’t afford one. They got a clock making kit and made one. Mark doesn’t actually build clocks, he just repairs them and sells already built, beautiful ones.
Mark does have lots of clock parts and tools that he showed us. He has baskets full of used clock pieces in case he might need them. He also has mini screwdrivers and clock oil that was squeezed out in tiny drops, one at a time. Mark also showed us how some of the clocks chimed on the hour, the half hour, and even the quarter hour. Some of the clocks played a song and some just chimed. There were grandfather clocks, cuckoo clocks, anniversary clocks, and others. Mark even made his own giant clock out of a table. We all learned a lot from this trip, and I suggest you visit Hugh’s Clock Shop if you’re ever looking for a clock or someone to repair one.
(Video to follow shortly…)
Who’s On First
This past month, Diane and Mark’s group worked on making a baseball play. One of the skits we decided to use was a very famous one, Who’s On First. In Who’s On First, two people each play a different part, Abbott and Costello.
Our group decided on the two people to participate in the skit by having all the kids who wanted the part pair up with someone and practice with the script. After a few days, there was an audition. We all met in our classroom and the kids showed the rest of the room “what they got”! After everyone had a chance, we all were given an index card to list our top three favorites. (You’re also not allowed to choose yourself.) After the two were picked, those two kids practice heavily. Once the day came, the two students went out alone on stage and performed.
Casey at the Bat
At assembly, Diane and Mark’s group did a baseball assembly. In the assembly, there was “Casey at the Bat.” “Casey at the Bat” is a poem. The story is about the Mudville Nine, and where there were two outs and two men on, ‘Mighty Casey’ struck out. At the vintage baseball game this fall, a man named ‘Brooklyn’ recited the whole poem. He was on the Neshanock Base Ball Club of Flemington.
Our group did the assembly in the PE room. We did the assembly because we were studying baseball. Our costumes were baseball uniforms. Matt helped our group by organizing the play. I really liked it and not just because played Casey.
Diane and Mark’s s group taught the school some baseball songs at our assembly, like: Centerfield, The Greatest, and Talkin’ Baseball. The first one to play was Centerfield, right when we were walking on stage. The second one happened in the middle of the show. That one was Talkin’ Baseball. The final one was The Greatest, which played with a slideshow of famous faces in baseball.
Time for Basketball in PE
Diane and Mark’s group were studying basketball in P. E. We played basketball in the Moore building, where we have basketball hoops. We studied basketball for two weeks. The reason we studied basketball was for everyone to learn more and get better at basketball. The way we learned how to play was to do some drills and then we played a couple of games. Some of the drills we did are: lay-up lines, drilling, and passing.
The Big Trip
Every year, Diane and Mark’s 5th and 6th grade group goes on a field trip, using money earned from pizza sales. This year, we chose from: Cooperstown, NY, Lowell, MA, and the student-suggested Pittsburgh, PA.
We split up into three groups, one for each trip. Each group looked up destinations in the area, found prices, and at the end, each group made a presentation showing some of the places they could go to on that trip. For the first vote, we used a basic ranking system. Your first choice got three points; your second choice got two points, etc. Then we used a system (suggested by yours truly) where you could divide three points among all the remaining choices. It came down to Cooperstown or Pittsburgh. It was close, but in the end, Cooperstown won.
This year, Diane and Mark’s 5th and 6th grade studied baseball. In art, we made self-portraits to make baseball cards. We traced the basic shape of our face using pictures that Nicole took. Then we made our faces pop out, using materials like the ebony pencil, blending stick, and cotton balls.
Nicole then copied them and we painted a background for it, and we glued on our background. After this, we all made name labels that we could use to present our names.
This was a really a really fun project!
It’s January! And time for new Writers Workshop groups! This time there were three different workshop group options. They were: Liner Notes with Mark, Captions and Cutlines with Diane, and How To and Directions with Jen. Every group meets in a different part of the classroom. Since the Liner Notes group has the most people, they have a half group to themselves, and the other two groups are in their own half group. The Liner Notes group meets at the regular tables, and when the other groups come in to switch, the Captions and Cutlines meet at the round table and the Directions group goes into the breakout room. Every group has different homework and homework due dates, but each Writers Workshop group sounds really fun!
On January 16th, Tuesday afternoon, we started a project where we would make our own calendars, which were custom calendars, and compare them with the Gregorian calendar, which is the 12 month calendar that people use everyday.
This project was a homework project and a school project that lasted for a little over a week and a half. We did this project so we could get a bigger picture of understanding measurement of time, and then we moved on to more complex math, like winter solstice and what it means, etc.
There were a lot of different ways to make our own custom calendars. Most people used the rectangle technique, putting their custom calendars on top and Gregorian calendar on the bottom, dividing the custom calendar any way they wanted. Some people might have made one month and had 365 days in it or had two months and had more than 180 days in the month. From the designs, you can get a really good picture of both of the calendars and observe the difference. We could really start to understand math and dividing time!
Searching for Signs of a Healthy Creek
In the last few weeks the ⅚ has been studying the health of the Miquon creek by searching for macroinvertebrates. A few months ago, we put bags full of leaves in different locations along the creek. We let them sit there for about a month, so all of the macros could eat the leaves. (You are probably wondering what a macro or a macroinvertebrate is. It’s a small invertebrate that is large enough to see with the human eye.)
When we pulled the leaf bags out of the water, we brought them up to science in crates full of creek water so as not to kill them. When we got up to the science room, the hunt for macros began. Everyone got a handful of leaves in a bin of creek water and a couple of popsicle sticks.
Mostly everyone got a nice variety of bugs. The most common, by far, was scuds. We also found a ton of cranefly larvae, some planaria and even a couple of bugs that we had never found before. After we were done collecting and counting, we used a couple of tests to determine how healthy our creek is. Overall, our creek has increased in health by a good bit in the last few years.