2007-2008: Week 12 Reflections

November 9, 2007 (Day 58)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we received flyers for Hibben’s effort to send needed items to children in other countries.  We also watched CNN Student news.  The main story involved the history of Veterans Day (traced back to Armistice Day from World War I) and how it is observed today.  Other stories reported on the first veto override of George W. Bush’s presidency for a water bill, an update on the crisis in Pakistan, and a look at the tradition of warm welcome for soldiers passing through Bangor, Maine.  In Math, we reviewed our quiz and then worked together on manipulating positive and negative numbers.  This entailed understanding their properties, and we also added/subtracted/divided/multiplied them.  In Spanish, we continued to refine our understanding of written communication and etiquette, and we reviewed and corrected some sample emails for practice.  We also watched a webcast video highlighting the major cultural and artistic aspects of Madrid, Spain. In Humanities, we watched a film version of Of Mice and Men (1992) that was directed by Gary Sinise.  In Science, we speculated upon and reflected on yesterday’s lab mixtures results with partners.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– none

Math
– complete worksheet

Spanish
– complete Acts 2 & 4 on pages 40-41

Humanities
– none

Science
– finish summary for MAD science article

November 8, 2007 (Day 57)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we were presented a satellite image of a city, and we were challenged to use our geographic and pattern recognition skills to identify it (Washington, D.C.).  Once recognized, we made a quick overhead tour of the Mall and crossed over to Arlington Cemetery, and this provided a link to the Women in Military Service to America Memorial that we learned about a few days ago (celebrating the 10th anniversary of its unveiling).  We then looked at pictures from yesterday’s experience at Fort Johnson, and we reviewed the highlights of what we learned and enjoyed.  We then watched CNN Student news, and the main story looked at the return of the Discovery space shuttle.  We recapped the mission: women commanders, difficulty with solar array, and new living module for the ISS.  We also talked about the accelerated launching schedule America is on now, every 6-8 weeks, because of dual pressures: behind schedule with satellite launching and ISS construction because of the Columbia explosion in 2002 and the looming retirement of the space shuttles.  The next story involved the discovery of a new solar system 41 light years away that is remarkably similar to our solar system.  Although the Earth-equivalent planet there is the size of Saturn, scientists feel that the moons of this planet may support life.  Scientists also made clear that the presence of water is the key to life, and this links strongly to one of our major themes in Science class this year.  The final story looked at the troubles American companies face in working in China.  Similar to last year’s issues for Google in conceding to a censored version of their search engine, Yahoo is under fire for complying with a Chinese government demand for information on an emailer who acknowledged the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests and subsequent government repression of the protestors.  To help us better understand this, Mr. Kreutner showed us how common websites have different versions for each country.  We looked at Amazon, and then we looked at Amazon’s site for Germany.  We searched for images of Tiananmen Square on Google’s site, and we saw there the world-famous photos from this event, including the lone man blocking the tanks on the square.  When we executed the same search on the Chinese version of Google, no such images existed.  We then linked this to our study of media ownership in America (we can see the pros and cons of consolidated press ownership) and the protections the press has in America.  In some other countries, the media may be owned by the government and/or face heavy restrictions on content.  This is a dilemma that faces American companies in these businesses when they choose to operate in countries with media limitations.  In Math, we had a skills checkup to see how well we understood and could apply the concepts we have been working on this year.  The remainder of class was individualized so that each student could work on the areas in which he/she needed a better grasp.  In Spanish, each student corrected two of the emails to Mrs. Rowland.  We then broke into pairs and examined an article for cognates and words that we recognized, and this helped pave the way for us to write a summary (not a word for word translation) of a piece that in many ways was unfamiliar to us.  If time remained, certain pairs moved on to on-line skills practice.  In Humanities, we finished our discussion of Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” and the concept of time travel and altering history provoked interesting insights.  We also worked on our two essays on the Depression-era histories, and this involved learning more about documentation and the difference between paraphrasing and quoting directly.  This is part of our ongoing use and understanding of research and sharing/analyzing ideas ethically and accurately in Science (scientific method) and our other courses (MLA, etc.).  In Science, we began investigating wastewater, especially in regards to its polluting effects and solutions for treating wastewater.  Mentor Zach Thames arrived after lunch and spent the rest of the day with us.

Today’s laboratory activities focused on mixtures.  We compared various mixtures, and then we conducted filtering experiments on mixtures and non-mixtures.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– none

Math
– look up the definitions from two sources and include examples (this applies only to some students)

Spanish
– internet (go.hrw.com) and complete the exercises indicated on today’s assignments handout

Humanities
– chapter 3 with notes due
– both essays on the Depression-era histories are due

Science
– none

November 7, 2007 (Day 56)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news.  The main story looked at the continuing crisis in Pakistan.  We reviewed the reasons behind the strong press coverage that this situation is garnering (country’s importance to our struggle with Al-Qaeda, historic regional conflicts between India and Pakistan, and the possession of as many as thirty nuclear weapons by Pakistan – making instability there and the presence of Al-Qaeda a very volatile combination.  We also learned more about the ongoing trouble with recalls of unsafe items that have been imported into America. In preparation for our Learning Outside the Classroom activity, we then read a history of Fort Johnson that is posted on the South Carolina Department of Natural Resource’s website.  The key points involved its history as a magazine site and fortification, and it was also the site of the first shots fired in the American Civil War.  The location is now host to national and state research entities for SCDNR, MUSC’s Marine Biomedicine & Environmetal Sciences Center, the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Laboratory, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hollings Marine Laboratory.  To gain a sense for its geographical location, we plotted directions using Google Map (it is almost a complete counter-clockwise circle by roads) and then shifted to Google Earth to examine the location and to place it in relation to other sites we have been this year.  We then continued our exploration of the SAT Writing section in preparation for the Duke TIP program.  Having already composed essays in response to an essay prompt, today we received six sample essays and scored them individually on the 6 (best) to 1 scale used on this section.  After reading, evaluating, and scoring them, we placed our collective scores on a grid to see how we all judged them.  Mr. Kreutner then gave us the actual scores that each received and distributed to us the scoring rubric used for this section of the SAT and the explanatory comments for the score each essay received.  We then spent a few minutes reading the comments and examining the rubric, and this exercise allowed us to better understand and gain comfort with this section of the SAT.  We then spent some time gathering and composing written evaluations for articles that we intend to use for our Science “Making a Difference” year-long project.  Upon arriving at Fort Johnson, we met SCDNR biologist/zoologist Billy McCord, and he gave us an overview of butterflies and moths in the outside classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

This included a primer on the species native to South Carolina and the role that both moths and butterflies play in the environment.  He then explained his role as a tagger and statistics gatherer about Monarch butterflies for a project overseen by the University of Kansas (Monarch Watch), and he estimates that he has tagged over 30,000 butterflies.  This tagging and tracking research has helped scientists better understand Monarchs, including their migration patterns and average speed, and allows them to gauge the general health of the species.  We then walked to a more isolated spot on Fort Johnson, and we helped Mr. McCord release 120 butterflies that he caught and tagged the day before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then went out on a dock and established a sense of position of where we were, and this involved building on our prior experiences in the harbor and sense of geography we gained from Google Earth.

Mr. McCord explained to us how man-made dredge islands, also known as hammock islands, have come to play a huge role in butterfly and bird population sustainment.  This linked to what we learned from the Coastal Expeditions naturalist when we landed on Crab Bank Island in the harbor: he explained that this island, also man-made, has become a huge nesting area for coastal birds in the southeast.  Both explained that these man-made islands fill an ecological need because man has displaced these species from their normal habitat on the barrier islands (Sullivan’s, Isle of Palms, etc.).  We then helped Mr. McCord locate other butterflies on the property, and he caught several Monarchs with his net.

 

 

 

 

 

He then showed us the labeling and data-gathering process he follows.  We learned a huge lesson about how man uses numbers and scales to make sense of the world, and this was clear to us when Mr. McCord explained the 1-5 ranking system that he uses for describing the wing quality of each butterfly.  We saw the connection to our morning exercise of grading SAT Writing section essays using a 1-6 scale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He inputs this data, along with measurement data and the location (including plants or flowers) in which the butterfly was found.  He then enters this information on an on-line database that is coordinated by the University of Kansas.  Mentors Zach Thames and Tiernan Garsys joined us for the afternoon because they had a half-day of school, and they got to see us label and identify some of the butterflies at Fort Johnson.  We then drove back to USL and returned a few minutes before dismissal.

November 6, 2007 (Day 55)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news.  The main story gave us an update on developments in Pakistan.  The other stories informed us about the television and movie writers’ strike and about the memorial to women who have served America in wartime.  The Women in Service to America Memorial is located at Arlington National Cemetary, and this week’s ceremony marks its 10th anniversary. Mentor Zach Hogeboom came by and spent some time with us. In Math, we began class by following instructions to move certain distances and directions.  This was linked to our examination of positioning last week using Google Earth and latitude and longitude.  We then moved back into the classroom and built on this exercise by analyzing adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing positive and negative numbers.  In Spanish, we reviewed the homework and refined our understanding of the verb “to be.”  After correcting another email and practicing further with “ser,” we watched the 1st part of a Spanish soap opera.  We were amazed at how much we could understand!  In Humanities, we worked on correcting the drafts of our Depression-era narratives.  We also read Ray Bradbury’s short story entitled “A Sound of Thunder.”  In Art, Ms. Kathleen Johnson got us started on pencil drawings in our sketchpad.

We drew native some species (lizards), and we were able to pick sea shells from a collection and sketch them.  Mentor Zach Thames arrived during Art and spent the rest of the day with us. In Science, we got acclimated to the procedures of our upcoming lab, and we also talked about our “Making a Difference” environmental science project.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– none

Math
– p. 136 #s 14-35 and p. 130 #s 12-31

Spanish
– read about Spain on pp. 0-3 and answer the questions on the paper Mrs. Rowland distributed
– find a recipe with metric ingredients and convert to American measurements

Humanities
– for Wednesday, 11/7  – turn in to Mr. Kreutner at USL before the “Learning Outside the Classroom” expedition the following: (1) the evaluation sheet; (2) a corrected, revised essay

Science
– get “Making a Difference” article for your topic

November 5, 2007 (Day 54)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news.  The main story provided an update on the declaration of martial law in Pakistan by President General Pervez Musharraf.  This allowed us to talk about how Pakistan has a three-part (executive, legislative and judicial branches) national government like America with democratic elections.  However, the situation in the country is precarious because Musharraf seized power in a military coup, but his presence and occasional cooperation has been vital in America’s struggle with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.  Our relationship with Pakistan is also complicated by their possession of nuclear weapons.  The other stories involved the floods in the Tabasco region of Mexico (we saw the strong parallels to Hurricane Katrina while watching helicopters pluck survivors off of rooftops) and the unveiling of the face of King Tutankhamen who reigned in Egypt in 1300 BC.  We then had an in-class essay assignment on the value of memories in aiding or inhibiting our progress.  After talking about the process of plotting and then responding to the question, Mr. Kreutner revealed that this was an SAT Writing sample essay question.  Some of the 7th grade is taking the SAT next month (the others in January) for the Duke TIP program, and this was an interesting discovery because the task did not seem daunting for us.  Although, it was remarked that hearing that it was from the SAT at the outset might have affected us, but we definitely feel confident about this aspect of it.  In Math, we took our assessment on algebraic properties, shapes, and measurement.  In Spanish, we collaborated on correcting two emails to Mrs. Rowland, and then she taught us the verb “ser.”  We then watched a short webcast video about the topic, and then we broke into groups of three and practiced speaking with each other.  In Humanities, we continued learning about the five-paragraph/three-point essay style.  This gave us the chance to work on sample opening paragraphs, thesis arguments, and on the proof we will bring to bear.  This endeavor was invaluable because it relates to all of our classes (including the SAT Writing exercise from this morning), and it is a key part of our Depression-era narrative summaries that we have been working on in conjunction with Of Mice and Men.  In Science, Mrs. Ewing demonstrated the importance of rules and laws, especially those related to the physical world.  We also learned about our next project, and this concluded with the assignment of MAD topics.  There was also time for us to dramatize the human impact on the three water loops, and this was an effective way for us to understand and retain the effects.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– none

Math
– page 123, #s 11-30 from Friday
– worksheet from today

Spanish
– study the verb “ser” on p. 24
– complete Act 33 and write out complete sentences
– remember the emails

Humanities
– finish both summary essays
– be sure to have new history volume in class

Science
– bring one supportive article on MAD (Making a Difference) topic

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