The class continued work on handwriting and editing sentences for grammar and spelling. We considered abbreviations and reviewed proper sentence endings.
To prepare for the novel Esperanza Rising, students built background knowledge and opinions on immigration and the immigrant experience by watching video narratives and with in depth discussions. Our pre-work added perspective and connected students to how the book relates to our lives now. One article in particular, “What is Immigration?”, described the dilemmas and controversies that arise in host countries. Students previewed select vocabulary, took turns reading aloud, and participated in active listening. Reading and comprehension were reinforced through discussion of key questions and creating written responses about the challenges immigrants face. One vocabulary discussion that stands out is how many people are using the term 'undocumented' as a way to describe someone in this country who is working, but not a legal citizen, rather than the word ‘illegal.’
MCS integrated broader methods to improve writing through direct experience by teaching students to "white board" - essentially brainstorming on classroom boards, while articulating their thinking to classmates. Students then translate their best ideas to a topical narrative. The students seeks to eliminate "weaker" words such as "fun," "like," or "good" to replace them with ‘juicy’ words from reference lists.
Special reasoning, dimensions, classifying and measuring angles (complimentary and supplementary, quadrilaterals, isosceles, scalene etc.) were tackled in Math. Students drew angles on whiteboards, estimated what they thought the angles measured and then, using protractors, measured the actual angles and compared their estimates to measured data. This developed the students’ comfort with best guess estimating, and helped them become more comfortable with engaging their intuition and experience in problem solving. Additionally, students discovered what type of angles and lines were in their printed names by drawing and tracing angles and lines in the letters of their names. Adding to the learning through direct experience, students explored the Randall Museum and their homes for examples of angles.
We continued our investigation of rivers and bodies of water which included a trip to the Bay Model in Sausalito to study the Bay Area river system. Students made Cartesian Diver Bottles to try to understand how fish and submarines control depth. A Radiolab report about sewer systems prepared students for our exploration of the SouthEast Wastewater Treatment Plant in Bayview Hunters Point. This was an an unforgettable visit, as students saw first hand our local waste water stream and the filtration systems required for maintaining San Francisco's clean water.
Science, this month, also covered study and analysis of surface tension, and explored how water is distributed between resources. Did you know the average meal takes 600 gallons of water to make? Students had to come up with creative, balanced meals that used under 500 gallons of water - some managed to include milkshakes!
Students continued with the investigation of the history of San Francisco with a ‘Think Walk’ (http://www.thinkwalks.org/) to build background knowledge through interactive experience. The walk was designed to help the students examine local history through primary resources and historic places in the community. Students learned why some places are considered worth preserving and explored what roles these places play in the community today. During the "Think Walk" students learn specifically about New Deal and Depression era infrastructure, and about a monastery stolen from Spain by William Randolph Hearst, then partly rebuilt in California.
Students began the EEI unit on River System and Ancient People which ties back to our continued science study of water. Students focused on study of the Fertile Crescent and how hunter-gatherers evolved into farmers. The final activity will be to create an electronic game board. The questions will be written by students completing individual research on one aspect of Mesopotamia.
SEL (Social Emotional Learning)
Every Thursday, students debrief with our MFT intern individually, followed by a Friday afternoon class relating to one aspect of SEL. The following topics were covered:
Empathy - Students had an exercise in 'leading the blind" and a discussion around defining Empathy, learned to name feelings in self and others, and were asked to describe their own feelings and experiences.
Friendship - What is a friend, how to make them, how empathy relates to friendship, and healthy facts around friendship.
Social Skills - The group developed a list of 5 important social skills, including verbal and non verbal behaviors.
Self Esteem - Students examined what self esteem looks like, its connection to negative and positive thoughts, implicit and explicit messages in the world around us, giving and receiving compliments, and the pros and cons of comparing ourselves to others
Additional learning through experience:
Woodworking at the Randall started! The class is gaining general woodworking and design skills by making a small piece of furniture. Students practiced skills associated with furniture making: design, material selection, shop safety, building, assembly, attention to detail and finishing techniques. Students used measuring devices, handsaws, clamps, power drills, drill press and band saws.
Robotics also continued at the Museum. Students used a form of programming language to write apps for robots do tasks. Students were engineering and problem solving using the Lego NXT Mindstorm robotic system.
Digital Arts/Sound & Music continues with students as they created their own soundtracks using musical instruments as well as Garageband.
Finally, students were provided with new desks and 'ball chairs' to engage their core and help maintain focus. Students followed instructions and built each of their desks and chairs themselves - and were excited by their accomplishment!