Monday, November 28, 2011

Topographic Maps - Science Room News

One of my favorite things to teach is topographic maps.  It's so gratifying when you watch students as they figure out what all of the symbols mean and begin to make sense of something that, at first, is seemingly incomprehensible.  Students had a checklist of things to find on each map.  Each set of students had a rural map (for determining elevation) and an urban map (for deciphering symbols).  What made it even more exciting is that the urban maps are all of the Jenkintown area.  Many students were able to find AFS, their homes or familiar parks on the maps they were observing.  As we studied the maps, we talked about concepts such as scale and direction of North.  Students used dry-erase markers to actually circle everything they found on their maps, and then shared their findings with classmates.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Compass Course - Science Room News

Our integration was a success!  Armed with compasses and trundle wheels, the students were able to navigate a set compass course.  Next, each group designed a compass course for another group.  The groups exchanged courses and the challenge began.  I am pleased to report that the groups did quite well designing interesting courses that everyone successfully navigated!  Another added benefit was learning how to measure long distances with a trundle wheel.  If you're not careful when measuring 50 meters, it's easy to get carried off course!  After a few tries, 5th graders became proficient in measuring long distances accurately.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Upcoming Concert

Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel Music Arts Committee
proudly presents the
DePue Brothers Band
performing this Sunday, November 13 at 5:00 p.m.
This concert is appropriate for all ages!
For tickets and more information please call 215-887-8700

Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
8339 Old York Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Art News

While reading the Odyssey in their classroom, students were each assigned a Greek character from the story. Connecting with their Greek studies in art, we decided to make their character into theatrical masks, similar to the comedy and tragedy masks.
We have been having a wonderful time working on this project; I have especially enjoyed the students heated discussion on the different relationships between their Greek characters.
We began this lesson by first building the mask in clay, and with the help of Karolye the students made great progress on the first day. Next, we covered the mask with plastic wrap and applied papier-mâché over the top of the clay. After many layers of newspaper and days of drying, we popped the papier-mâché mask off the clay and started painting them. They are slowly evolving into exquisite works of art, but we still have a long way to go.

Writing Poetry at Alverthorpe

We took our notebooks to Alverthorpe Manor and felt the magical quality of this garden which has been "reclaimed," from ruins and from fallen trees, but is now gradually being reclaimed by the forest. Several children told me that they had been here before but had never been here in silence with their writers notebooks. "I'm seeing things I didn't even notice before," one child acknowledged.

Writing on top of the bridge

the alligator's mouth

A view from below the bridge

We'll post poems soon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What would Polyphemus say?

Today in library, we brought together students’ study of Greece with their study of using dialogue in creative writing. As a whole group, we read a picture book adaptation of the story of Odysseus and the cyclops Polyphemus. Students observed that although we were reading a picture book, it was not a story for little kids! Odysseus did not manage to escape from Polyphemus’ cave until half of his men had been eaten. At that point, he was able to convince the Cyclops to indulge in the Greeks’ wine and fall asleep, at which point he became a helpless victim to the Greeks’ attack on his eye with a sharpened log. Dangerous times!

After hearing the story, students worked with partners to answer the question, “what would a dialogue between Polyphemus and his eye doctor sound like?” The pairs got right to work, choosing to answer this question with an interesting blend of script-like writing, speech-bubbled cartoons, and illustrations, which we hope to finish, revise, and share with each other in future library classes. Some of our work in progress:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Big Idea-Talking about Themes

Kamal, Jazzmin, Miles, Daniel, Bela and Celine talked about themes in the book eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff, that stood out to them in a meaningful way. Our last discussion for this book paved the way for future thinking and writing about "big ideas" in novels. In preparation for this discussion, they each had to select a theme and then find three quotes in the book, one at the beginning, one from the middle and one from the end of the book to support their idea.
As they presented their selections they shared their thinking about how they would proceed if they went to the next step of writing an essay. Celine's selection from the beginning of the book sets the stage for her big idea of identity. "But-missing? Sam Bell? Maybe he'd even been kidnapped. By Mack? And maybe Mack wasn't even his grandfather? Ridiculous. Sam thought." Jazzmin's quote from the middle of the book reflected the very beginning of his deciding to pick Caroline as a friend who could help him in his quest to find out about his identity. " She was the one. Somehow he'd get her to help." Daniel's last selection from the book about his theme of Identity/Reading/ Family was a very moving one. "Foghorns. Freighters appearing then disappearing in the mist. Rocks. A splintering noise. The water level with the edge of the boat, black, cold. Night cat. Water in his eyes, his mouth. An then Mack. "I've got you. You're safe." Safe. Safe. " It was great to watch the support and suggestions each member of this group gave to each other.