Friday, May 24, 2013

The latest news...

Hello everyone!

I want to start this post by giving a big thank you to our Co-Teacher, Clara, who has been helping the Artistic Scientists all year and has really been an asset to our group.  She took on a big job this week and supported the class through their regular day routines Monday afternoon, and on Tuesday, while I worked with small groups outside of the classroom.  Their first time spending the afternoon with Clara went well until the last 15 minutes of the day.  At this point, many friends were not doing their best listening job and this made Clara feel tired and ignored.  She expressed her confusion to the friends because she knew that the end of the day ritual of doing calendar and journal was something they were all very familiar with and capable of doing.  She took a break and I supported the group for this time, as the students reflected on how their actions affect other people and what impression they can leave on someone.

I was impressed at how many students were willing to own up to the fact that they were not showing Clara what they could do, but mostly showing her their silliness.  They agreed as a class that they did not want to make Clara or anyone else feel upset or tired after working with them.  They wanted to help make the day feel good for everyone.  They took a quiet moment to make a plan for what they would do on Tuesday to fix this problem, since Clara would be supporting them again.  When Tuesday came, the whole day had a positive vibe to it!  Many friends were smiling, helping each other, and being great listeners.  At the end of the day, we all appreciated Clara for always helping the class and reminding them that they can be pretty amazing.

Earlier this month, Sara (Lyla's mom), came to our class to give a tutorial on how to take measurements  of our bodies to help better understand the process of making our Spooky Character Costumes.

Friends took this knowledge of how and where to measure and worked with their 8th Grade Buddies as a team, trying to take accurate measurements and noticing what the different lines and numbers meant on their measuring tools.

She recently brought in some supplies for the costumes and asked for the friends to help to cut them out.  

Friends took on the challenge and tried to make their best cuts to help their peer's costumes match their original character ideas.

Sara came after this to show friends the fruits of their labor and appreciated the class for their help!

Nyala brought her home creation of her character, a spooky alien, as another model of how to costumes can be made, explaining the different materials her family used, and their process.

The Artistic Scientists are excited to see how their costumes will turn out and bring them to life for our recording next week!!

In other news, friends have been continuing their exploration of time, addition, patterns, and the different parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives).  Clara supported the class to think about these concepts during Open Choice Time:

The class is also continuing their work on their Bird Project.  They have now selected four birds that they would like to become experts on and are looking to answer some questions from the list they generated previously.  They are looking forward to researching the answers and sharing the information with the rest of the class!  If you could come in to help friends go through the (sometimes dense) materials, it would be a huge help!

It inspires me to see that many friends continue their love of learning when they go home, and bring back what they are excited about to the class.  Our friend Lincoln brought some interesting stones for the friends to investigate.  They were noticing that many stones looked differently and some felt similar but others did not...  They practiced using different vocabulary words to describe the stones, such as, cold, metalic, smooth, glassy, rough, and heavy.

Our other friend, Mikayla, brought her "Best Collection" of coins, which stirred up many great discussion questions!

Who are the people on the coins?
What is a president?
What is a president's job?
What are the other images on the coin?
How much is each coin worth?
How do you count money?

After discussing the name of each coin, we noticed their different shapes and colors.  Many friends have prior knowledge of money, so they shared their expertise and let the rest of the friends know that 100 pennies is equal to a dollar, and a dollar is made out of paper, not metal.

We checked our ideas about how much each coin is worth and showed their value by placing the same amount of gems as their worth, next to each coin.  We found that one penny had the value of one gem.  If one gem equaled one penny, we checked how many pennies were in a nickel, dime, and quarter.  We also tried adding quantities to see how much money would one have if you had a penny and a nickel, or a nickel and a dime.  Friends used the gems and their fingers to add up their values!

During Open Choice Time, Clara worked with some friends who wished to explore these concepts further.

Here are some questions and comments that the friends made while investigating these coins closely!

Kai- 25 cents, I looked at it.
Ashley- 5 cents, I know by it's size.
Lyla- a penny is worth a cent.
Lincoln- The penny has a building.
Ashley- I think this is a museum on the nickel.
Lincoln- I wonder what the words are?
Kai- Why is there pictures on the quarter?
Lyla- I wonder why there is a picture of an eagle on the quarter?
Ashley- Why do each coin have a different picture?
Chelsea- On the quarter, it's George Washington.
Andrew- I thought Lincoln was on the quarter?
Chelsea- President Lincoln is on the penny.
Andrew- I think the Revolution War is on the dime.
Chelsea- I wonder who is inside the back of the dime, because I can't see them.
Andrew- I wonder what the letters are on them.
Chelsea- On the dime, there's a fire thing on a stick.
Andrew- I think it's a war.
Chelsea- Maybe it's something to use when you're in battle.

Lastly, a big thank you to Laura, Kai's mom, for helping us get in touch with an expert for us to interview, so that we can learn more about what it's like to be a published author!  Suzanne Santillian, author of Grandma's Pear Tree, came to our class this week to read her latest book, in a very interactive way!  The whole class helped her by saying, "Ay, caramba!" and putting their hands on their head after another item got stuck in Grandma's Pear Tree...

She took some time to answer questions from her pear tree and from our list of generated questions to help us better understand her process.  Friends came up to present her with a question and we learned so much!

Q:  How long did it take for you to write your book?
A:  Over a month long, and over a year to get it published.
Q:  How many books have your written?
A: Four, but this is the first one that has gotten published.

Q:  What edits did you make?
A:  It had to change it from a rhyming book, to one that didn't rhyme.  Also, I had to make the book shorter.
Q:  How did you choose the problems and solutions for your book?
A:  It had a lot to do with my personal experiences with my family, who speaks Spanish, and I wanted to share these Spanish words with my children and others.

Q: Did anyone give ideas for your book?
A:  My ideas come from my family and personal experiences.
Q:  How did you pick your characters?
A:  [The main character] Jessie was inspired by my niece, Jessie, but the illustrator made her into a boy, and he looks just like my nephew!  And the other characters, I chose because I wanted to include the Spanish vocabulary words for them.

We were so appreciative to learn from an expert and got to share our own process with her about our journey of being authors, illustrators, editors, directors, actors, and costume designers!

As you can see, we are so busy in class!  Come in any time to chat with your child about their work, I know they'd be happy to share it with you!

Love, Gaby