Work Continues: The Industrial Revolution
After several introductory lessons about the Industrial Revolution, it was time to dig deeper into some of the details. One strategy for getting the most from our time together is breaking into smaller study groups so that children can explore one aspect of the era in more detail, eventually connecting their learning with the work done by others in the group. We chose to divide our work into two study groups, one studying the role of textile production and related technologies in both spurring and reflecting industrialization, and the other concentrating on the mining of and use of coal as a source of energy and as a catalyst for change.
Diane and Mark’s ⅚ group has been studying the Industrial Revolution. They decided to divide the group into two groups, textile and coal. I will be talking about the textile group. The textile group have been talking about the textile mills. They have been learning by watching videos, making water wheels, and filling out sheets. We started on April 2nd, and we will be studying it until the end of the year.
To make the water wheels, we split up into pairs. The goal was to make energy travel in two ways. The first step was to make the wheel. We each got some instructions and started crafting. A lot of kids didn’t finish their wheels, but it was still a fun process. The wheels were made out of cardboard that we cut ourselves. After we finished the wheels, we needed to make energy travel two ways. The materials we used were K’Nex rods and miniature tires. Each pair finished and made efficient mills. To test them, we ran water down the wheels, which made the wheels spin, and a chain reaction of spinning that directed the energy different ways. It was very successful and fun!
In Diane and Mark’s group our class split into two groups, and one of the groups studies coal. In the coal group, we study about the danger of coal mines and different types of coal, plus where they are found. We started this study right after spring break, and we will be stopping near the end of the year. The reason we do this study is to learn about the Industrial Revolution and coal. During these study periods we read and write.
Coal Study Group Field Trip
On April 25th, the half of Diane & Mark’s group that is studying coal went on a field trip to Hopewell Furnace. There we learned about the impact Hopewell Furnace had on the world of coal.
Hopewell Furnace was a major producer of pig iron. They used charcoal to run a cold-blast furnace. (And yes, 3,000 degrees fahrenheit is “cold.”) For a short while, they used anthracite to run a hot-blast furnace, but it was too expensive, so they switched back to charcoal.
Another thing that was built was a new, colorful fence built around the art room garden out of colorful sticks. Work parties are always a ton of fun and this one was no exception.
Our class has been studying the Industrial Revolution for a few weeks now, and from that a lot of subtopics have been discovered — coal, textiles, equality and labor are a few. In connection to those subtopics, we have selected a few books that relate: The Breadwinner, The Midwife’s Apprentice, Esperanza Rising, Lyddie, The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker, and Bread and Roses, Too.
Each student was able to pick a book to start with. I chose a book on modern Afghanistan called, The Breadwinner. (Good book, by the way.) It talked about the struggle of a fictional, but realistic girl in Afghanistan who works hard to support her family’s low income in a place where the guards hit and beat their citizens.
One of the more popular books was Esperanza Rising. It was about a Mexican girl who had to leave Mexico during the Great Depression. All the books were amazing and I would recommend reading any of them. We, as a class, ended up loving the books.
After the buzzer rings at 8:25 AM, Diane and Mark‘s class starts most mornings with read aloud in the living room. While Diane reads, students are allowed to draw, knit, do something with their hands, or just listen.
After finishing the book Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, Diane started a new read aloud: Audacity, by Melanie Crowder. Audacity is based on the true story of Clara Lemlich, who lived in a shtetl (Jewish village) in Russia. Clara’s father does not allow her to read or speak Russian. However, Clara feels differently. She learns Russian because of her love of words and reading. When Russians attack Clara’s shtetl, her family decides to emigrate to America. I won’t say anymore, no spoilers!
The book is beautifully written in poetry. It’s a pretty big book, but the pages go by fast. I am excited to continue reading Audacity, and I think you would like it, too.
A Play! A Play!
In Diane and Mark’s 5/6 class, we are putting on a play. It is going to be on June 6th. The play is called, “Hamlet Hears a Who.’’ It’s a mix between Dr. Seuss and Shakespeare. We are practicing the play in our classroom. We rehearse our lines and practice where to stand and when to come on stage. The play is super funny and amazing!
At the end of the year in both 5/6s, we do something quite like the fall project, Life Skills, except it’s called Personal Projects. The biggest difference is that it doesn’t need to be a life skill. It can be more like a hobby, or a project you want to do over the span of four weeks. Some of the things people are doing are: baking, learning about different parts of the world, planning a pretend trip (that may happen), mastering photography, learning how to style hair, quilting, making a model house, and learning a fitness routine. Before starting your personal project you need to plan what to do each week. At the end of four weeks, you plan a presentation which you present in front of the whole class.
Every year there are a couple of work parties. They start around 9am and go as long as there is work to be done. The work parties are optional. Anyone from Miquon can come, and they are fun and worth going to.
When you get to the path to the office, there is a stand with coffee and donuts. The person at the stand gives you a name tag and an assignment of where to go and what to do there.
This year, besides the yearly weeding and plantings, we had a gaga pit to install. Even though it’s called a gaga pit, it is really a hexagon of walls — two feet tall and about 20 feet in diameter. (For more information, read Abby’s entry on Gaga.)
Gaga is a very popular game among kids in the school. Gaga is a game where you hit a ball at people’s shins; if it hits them below the knee caps, they’re out. Recently, we (as a school) got a Gaga court. The court is basically just a big circle surrounded by a wooden wall. The kids have been having some problems with some of the rules, so we did a “do-over.” We did not play Gaga for a week, and we could only play it with Lisa, the P.E teacher, because she had to teach us the new rules that we have to use. Gaga will be reopen soon.
Last week (the first week of May), we had a guest named Bernie, who is also Theo’s grandfather. Bernie came to explain energy to us. He explained the problems with making energy, and how we can help it be better for the environment.
Bernie built his house so that it would be better for the environment, using pipes that have water in them to heat and air condition his house. This is called a geothermal system.
Updates from Art Class
Last month in art the 5th/6th classes worked on the pottery wheel. During the lesson there were two wheels available. Each person worked with a partner with whom they had to communicate with during the process. One person had the role of the thrower and the other person was the assistant. The thrower’s job was to shape the clay, and assistant had to add water as the thrower shaped the clay. The thrower first needed to center the clay on the wheel — this is very tricky to do.
Once the clay is centered, you have to push your thumbs together and press the center down to make an indentation. Once you are far enough down, you open up the pot and then you change your hand position. You hook your thumbs together, and your fingers on your left hand are on the inside. Your fingers on the right are outside, and they work together to pull up the wall and begin to shape the pot. This is a pretty cool feeling. Once you get the pot to the shape you want it, you sponge it off and get it ready to cut it from the wheel. Then you cut it, take it off the wheel, and switch with your partner. They now get to throw their pot.
What is Miquon Grass? Miquon Grass has been a Miquon tradition for years! It is a book that’s published every year at the end of May, full of poems, stories, and drawings, from kids from the nursery to the fifth and sixth grades.
The MIquon Grass started over 20 years ago. Each class from nursery to the fifth and sixth grades has their own section in the Miquon Grass, so each year every class is responsible for their section cover. Jen and Rossana publish the MIquon Grass. In art, we got to make front covers, and so did all the other classes. Jen and Rossana will choose a cover for the front cover for the Miquon Grass out of all the submitted pictures. I think that the Miquon Grass was created because it gave kids a chance to express themselves through pictures, poems, and much more.
At the end of the year, each of the graduates performs a speech. That means that each 6th grader writes their speech. There is a long process to writing a speech, and even though you are the one writing it, the teachers are there to give guidance.
One of the first things we do is pick out a quote. Picking the quote is a key step in this process because we build most of our speech around it. Another thing that the teachers give us is a planning sheet. It shows us where to put things and it also helps us find our main idea. We give speeches so that we can share our experiences with the community and give each other a proper send off. It is a tradition that we have had for years, and it is something that each student looks forward to.
We start speeches about a month in advance so that we have enough time to be very detailed and precise. I am personally very excited about giving a speech because of how many speeches I have seen through the years.
Renaming the Place Across the Creek
At The Miquon School, we have a place across the creek. It is one of the places where we play. Originally its name was Monkeyland, because of the big trees, but now there are not as many trees. We have also decided to change the name because it sounds racist, which sounded wrong.
The whole school is now working on replacing the name of the place across the creek. First. all the classes had their own votes, and each classroom entered one possible name. Then the whole school had a vote to replace the name. All students chose their favorite three of the name choices. On May 11th, the place across the creek was named Creekwood Hollow. This is the name for now, because we know a new name will also come naturally from the kids who play there.